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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not Learning the Language

It's hard to believe, but I've been in Korea for six months. Six whole months… To some people that might not seem like a long time to be away from home, but to others it would be inconceivable. I guess I learn toward feeling like it hasn't been that long. I miss my family and friends, but I also know how good it will feel when I get to see them again. I'm looking forward to those first few weeks back home, but of course I'm also grateful and excited to spend the next six months in Korea.

What the hell is that! I'll never know now...
These past six months have flown by! What have I been doing all this time? I've been working and sleeping with practicing Kumdo, reading books about Korean culture, exploring a bit, playing video games, and eating good food (and some not so good food) sprinkled in during my free time. I've really done a lot in a short amount of time, but I haven't done what is perhaps the most important thing I should be doing: learning the Korean language. Before I left the US I was hoping that I would be able to become conversational in Korean by the time I came back, but I'm not so sure that is going to happen. Here I am, living in a country that is almost as far away from home as you can get, and I can barely speak the language. Everyday I feel rude for not being able to speak Korean. I can order food, give directions to a cab, and ask simple questions, and understand a good number of curse words, but how much of an accomplishment is that? It's hard to learn a new language, everyone knows that. It takes time, effort, and a little bit of money and sitting in front of a computer mindlessly wandering the internet or drinking cheap beer is so much easier to do...

I feel like many travelers who speak English are exceptionally lazy and arrogant when it comes to learning a new language, and I am no exception. In all honestly, I really would be fine in Korea if I didn't speak one word of Korean. Everyone here speaks a little bit of English, which is exactly the reason why so many English speakers forgo learning a second language. Signs are in English, restaurants usually have an English menu, and the people speak some English (but if they don't, then we can always break out the international sign language that every human seems to know). In reality we don't need to speak a second language! But what does that collectively say about us foreigners living abroad? Your language isn't important enough to learn? It isn't useful enough? I don't want to waste my valuable free time to learn how to communicate with you properly? It's hard to think of a more pretentious, arrogant, and rude attitude to hold toward such a welcoming foreign country…I'm not saying everyone should be fluent in their host countries language, but if you end up spending a year or more living there then how could you not at least want to be able to communicate in the native language? How could you not make an effort?
The Korean makes sense, the Engrish does not. 

These past few weeks I've decided that I'm not going to be that person anymore! Deborah and I have signed up for a Saturday Korean class and we are going take a Korean language test in April. I know it's not much, but this will force me to study and hopefully I'll learn a respectable amount of Korean in the remaining six months.

Thanks for reading,
Yip yipyip


  1. Mom bought me the real deal rosetta stone german edition for christmas..... Been doing it religiously for the past month.... Love it.... Grant it german is much easier than korean to learn


    1. haha awesome! Learning to speak the mother tounge I see. I have the Korean rosetta stone, but it was too hard for me...I don't think they spent too much time making the Korean one, but I bet they spent a good amount of time making the german one. Didn't you take german in college? Anyway, you should brush up on your Korean too for when you come to visit!