5 In Korean learning journey (:

How does it feel like to have learnt Korean for 8 years?

I’m sure there are many people out there who have learnt a language for many years and with all issues, there are always differing views.

But here’s my two cents on how it feels.

It’s a love-hate relationship now.

It used to a love relationship, where the love got stronger with time. The more I studied, the more I want to learn and the more I enjoyed it. The sense of satisfaction that you get from being able to decipher texts / sounds in a new language is indescribable and it remains one of my proudest achievements to date.

But as time crept by, the greed also got stronger. The greed to get better.

Which is not a bad thing. But I did suffered from somewhat an “identity crisis”, or rather the lack of an answer to the question of “What does Korean mean to me?”.

Should I keep it as a hobby? Should I make use of it in my career? Should I invest into language programs / a master degree to get even better?

Perhaps these might be easy questions to answer for some but for me, it tormented me for a quite a while (and still bug me).

It made me deeply unhappy to know that I can do better with the skills, and yet I am not.

My personal crisis probably hit a peak in 2013 and for a period of time, I found it hard to face the language head on, always wanting to avoid it somehow. It’s hard to describe what it felt like, the closest would probably be like how Nodame felt in Nodame Cantabile (one of the reasons why I love that show/anime so damn much). But of course, I need to say that I don’t have her talents, just that I identify with some of her thoughts.

I always thought that the longer I learn the language, the stronger the passion would be.

Which turned out to be.. somewhat ambivalent.

I still loved the language, but the burning passion to study and learn and absorb more isn’t quite there anymore.

Passing TOPIK 6 was perhaps the turning point.

It’s silly, but somehow you kinda lose your focus after getting the certification. By then, most of the textbooks available were too easy for me, and it felt strange that I no longer have books to study with. Of course there are the ‘real’ books (novels etc) out there, but being a fan of textbooks, it felt weird that I suddenly don’t have stuff to work on.

There was also a little bit of complacency too. Or rather, the sense of comfort that I can understand conversations, read stuff etc that there was no motivation to really improve. When I travel to Korea, I could function perfectly well. I get lured into the false sense that I’m pretty good and with that feeling, I didn’t feel the urge to do much to improve my proficiency.

That’s why at times I do welcome the occasional wake-up calls when I see people who are better than me, or people who are working super hard etc. Nothing is more motivational that that stab of jealousy HAHA.

This blog actually keeps me tethered to the language too. I’ve seen too many friends leave the language aside for other work / life commitments and although I feel like I’m too far gone on this path to forget Korean, I still feel scared at times that one day, I might be the same. Like I always said, there is nothing wrong with thinking that there are more important stuff in life, but having invested soo much of my life into this language, I would not be able to forgive myself if I forget it.

Throughout the years, I have received countless questions on why I love this language so much and why am I spending so much time on it. There were compliments, but often there were loads of doubtful looks and plain criticisms. I’ve learn to take everything in stride but as the years pass, sometimes I also question my passion / obsession.

A friend (or maybe more than one) commented that my life wouldn’t amount to much without languages. HAH. I don’t particularly like anything outside of languages and as a result, my social circle is also quite limited to language people. HAHA.

I can’t tell whether I’m more affronted or amused at such comments.

Or the fact that I can’t even refute.

It has given me a lot, but perhaps it has closed some doors for me too.

As a teenager, I was one of those that nobody would take notice on and I never had anything I liked then too. So who is to say that my life would be richer without having spent so much time on Korean and other languages?

I would never quite know the answer to it, would I?

Learning Korean has taught me to dream. It has taught me to be a better person. It has taught me that the world is a bigger place than I thought.

And that is enough (:


Learning Korean has also made me a bigger book lover than I already was 😛

Received these books from TTMIK and I am SO excited!


I think most people know that I greatly admire and respect the whole team behind TTMIK and I’ve been recommending this online resource to everyone I know (:

Super glad to receive these books but of course, rest assured that my reviews are always still unbiased and honest! 😀

Looking forward to reading these!


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  • Reply
    8 March, 2016 at 8:54 PM

    I really thankfull with you for sharing this. First of all, sorry for my broken english hehe; second, I am through a bad phase with korean right now but you made me realize I cant stop to study korean.
    I went to korea for six month just for learning korean; I risk my relationship, my job, maybe even a little of my health, and a spend a lot of money because was something I really really wanted to do. However, after I came back to my country something happened and I left korean aside. But you are right, I would not be able to forgive myself if I forget it either.
    Thanks for help me to remember that. And I admire how you spend all this years learning korean; you are kind of an example for me. Am still on my first years, so the path will be long. Bye!

  • Reply
    Rania Fadiyah
    11 March, 2016 at 10:04 PM

    What coincidence! I start to learn korea about a month ago and suddenly felt lazy about it. Thanks for post about this. Actually I learn to self studying mostly inspired by you hehe. Fighting!

  • Reply
    2 December, 2016 at 2:25 AM

    Yoo hoo. Kai here. There is a reason for everything. There is definitely something you seek within the languages, the comfort that you gain and the sense of belonging that you cannot find somewhere else. It is irreplaceable. The friends that you make along the journey and the values that you gain.

    You’re surrounded by languages, so what? There are people out there who can’t speak english or chinese properly enough to carry a conversation and they go around ruining others’ days. The dots will connect one day. Keep your faith and keep your trust. The dots will connect. It is the power of language.

  • Reply
    5 September, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    Hi Shanna,
    I just found your blog through google when searching “What are some N3 books to buy in Japanese bookstores?” and this post really struck a chord with me.
    I have been learning Japanese, if on a consistent basis, for the last 2-3 years, if on and off basis, since I was 13! But I failed JLPT N2 this July. But no worries, someday I’ll get there!
    I’m very inspired that you are multi-lingual- its not easy! You should be proud!
    I’m going to Osaka in early October and you mentioned Bookoff. May I know which Bookoff you went to? Is it near a train station? Easy to find?
    I will visit Ki-shun in SG as well- you really recommend good bookshops and Japanese books for learning! I have Kanzen master introduced by my sensei and he says its good!
    I can never do self-study, so I’m really impressed with someone who can stick with it by self-learning languages.
    Thank you and continue writing!

    • Reply
      7 September, 2018 at 9:10 AM

      Hi Clara! Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂 I don’t quite remember which book off I went to but I think there are are mostly v accessible and near to shopping districts. Li shun in Singapore has closed down though )):

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