The countdown has begun! I am 3 weeks away until I’ll be stepping foot in Seoul, South Korea, the city of birth, the home away from home, my motherland. I haven’t been back for over 30 years since I was born! That’s a loooong time I know! The reason…well… there are multiple reasons why I haven’t been back:
1) Because my parents are cheap and never wanted to pay for my plane ticket. A roundtrip plane ticket from Baltimore/Washington, D.C. is about $1,200 USD each. Ok, I can’t put all the blame on them but I was broke for awhile too so there…
2) The second reason is because I wanted to brush up on my Korean language skills because before I planned to goto Korea my language skills were horrible. For about two years now, I’ve been taking Korean Language classes through a language institute and at the Korean Embassy as well as studying through different resources such as Talk To Me In Korean (TTMIK), How To Study in Korean, YouTube, Hello Talk, language exchange sites and etc. It’s tough when you’re not immersed into the culture.
Here in D.C., you don’t have many Korean folk. When I say D.C., I mean D.C. proper…in the city. It’s mostly interns from China and Korea. There’s some out in Rockville, MD and the most would be around Annandale, VA since it’s known as Korean Town because of many Korean businesses residing out there but it’s not metro accessible and I don’t have a car anymore so naw….that’s not going to work. Plus those Koreans I engage with, we end up talking in English anyway. It’s not like Spanish where you have an abundant amount of Latinos everywhere and were born speaking it in there families. It’s funny how it’s not quite the same for Asian people. But anyway…
3) The third reason is because I wanted to save up some paid time off to be able to stay in Korea for awhile. I was shooting for 4 weeks but ended up settling for 3 weeks but I think that’s a decent amount to start with to see if I like it and to interact with the people there and become immersed into the culture.
It’d be interesting to see how I’ll fit in since I do, obviously, look Korean but I’m not Korean, I’m a Korean-American who was born in Seoul but raised in American culture. Also, it’d be cool to see a change for once where I’m not a part of the minority as I’ll be part of the majority! If you ever intend to visit Korea, I highly recommend studying the Korean language, 한글 and the nuances that’s part of the culture. It’s very different from American culture and those outside of the Asian countries.
There’s one book by Seoulistic and TTMIK called, “Survival Korean”. I highly recommend it as it gives you just about everything you need to know to navigate Seoul when at a restaurant, cafe, taxi cab, subway, bus, shopping mall, hair salon, hospital, browsing the web and etc. It also gives you a crash course on how to read and pronounce! I kind of wish I bought this a long time ago because it took like a month to get here and I’ve only been reading for about a week now. A lot of words that I’ve learned are sometimes hard to remember when you don’t attribute to something can be used on a repeated basis. But the book applies grammar and conjugations to everyday language. It has a lot of useful information although I was a disappointed with the dating section as it was only two pages. Like, really guys?
A second book I recommend is the Lonely Planet Korean Phrasebook & Dictionary since it can fit in a back pocket or purse which makes it easy for traveling unlike the Survival Korean book. It has at least two more pages on dating but there’s even more content squeezed into this smaller book! One thing that bothers me though in the book is when they include the word “dongshin” (동신) which means “you” in English but Koreans don’t use this often. You’ll hear it when someone is angry and is cussing at someone or in a K-Pop love song to express their love but that’s about it. In Korean culture, you address someone by their name or title.