gwangju-fave-cafe

Turning Korean

When friends and family tell me I look like a Korean now, I do not think they are serious. But recently I have been mistaken for a Korean by Koreans. So I guess it is kind of true.

-Exhibit A-

Last weekend after partying until late, I was going back to my dorm and a Korean from the same building was walking behind me. As I was about to put in my password to open the door, he warned me about entering the dorm after curfew. He was speaking in Korean so fast I only understood a few things. I said it was okay, and that my Korean is not so well. He was about to enter his room (which was at the first floor in front of the elevator) while I was waiting for the elevator when he tried speaking in English saying he was sorry because he thought I was Korean. But really, I was quite grateful for his concern.

-Exhibit B-

Just this afternoon during my walk around the city, there were these Koreans who were promoting some sort of event/product at the underpass. The guy nearest to the stairs where I was walking approached me and started talking in Korean about whatever they were doing. I did not quite understand what he said because of the noise. I just told him that I was not Korean and I could not speak really well. His friends seemed to understand what happened as they all chuckled and started saying some English words.

Today, before I went back to the dorm, I stopped by my favorite café downtown and had a short talk with the cashier as I was ordering. She was speaking a little bit quickly so it took me quite some time to answer her questions. When she asked me what my major was, I told her I’m still studying Korean. I explained that this was the reason why I cannot speak well, but she said my Korean sounded good. That time, I was already thinking of ending the conversation but her compliment gave me a confidence boost so we talked a bit more about why I was alone today and what my friends were doing. It was a really short talk but it made me realize something. After one semester of learning basic language, I am now more confident when it comes to speaking with the locals as opposed to my first few weeks here. My listening and reading skills also improved. Hopefully, this confidence boost will help me push myself further come the next semester.

I find it amusing that after three months of staying here, locals think I am also a Korean. Quite flattering perhaps, but it also puts a bit more pressure on me to learn the language faster. Sure, I have to go out more and practice what I have learned so far. But just for a bit, I am going to enjoy the few days of vacation and fall in love more deeply with Korea. 😉

Morning Calm Indeed

It has been more than half a month since I arrived here at Gwangju, South Korea which was enough time for me to have tons of wonderful adventures. Our classes have not yet officially started that is why we have a lot of time in our hands to go out for trips.

What has made my stay interesting so far is the opportunity to make friends who came from different parts of the world. The diversity of our group is very enriching to both mind and soul. It is amazing and fun to share different cultures with each other.

Before I came here, I always wondered why it was called the “Land of the Morning Calm.” I never knew it was somehow self-explanatory. Back in Manila, I was used to waking up at around seven in the morning and find the streets very busy. But here, even though Gwangju is a metropolitan area, I wake up at seven and find myself in a , literally, calm morning. Most places open and
most people are out on the streets at around nine in the morning. Their days start quite later compared to Manila, but their nights are just as long. Nightlife is not something to worry about if you are a party animal.

The weather is another thing that makes me love Korea even more. During midday, when the sun is at its peak, it can get hot when there are not much clouds up in the sky. But the wind still blows a cool breeze so by just staying under a tree’s shade one can already avoid the harsh heat of the sun. Or there is always a coffee shop around the corner to enjoy a cool drink or some desserts (and free WiFi of course).

Reading about South Korea having the best internet connection around the world is not just propaganda. Experiencing its high-speed internet connection firsthand is just astounding. Streaming music and videos, uploading photos and sending mails are so fast you save a lot of time to enjoy more activities. However, it is definitely not perfect so some connections — especially WiFi — can get a bit unstable sometimes.

I’m so stoked for more wonderful adventures ahead of me here in Korea. Definitely, this is a country I would recommend everyone to visit at least once in their lifetime.