19 In Seoul Life 2012

Tangled & Reflections

Even for someone who loves Korea THIS MUCH, I am beginning to see how it’s not really easy for me to settle in this country. I’m actually feeling stressed out about certain issues these days, which explains my lack of posts and refusal to go out and meet anyone. Sometimes, I really wonder if I should keep all my negativities out of this blog but then again, I still think I should share (to some extent) my true feelings.

I might have mentioned this before. But going to Korea as a tourist, as a short term student, long term student, high level expat, low level employee etc etc all means very different experiences. The next 12 months is probably going to be a very very tumultuous time for me, and my life is probably going to undergo many major changes. I feel like I’m at this stage where I should start thinking about what to do with my life. Should I keep Korean as my pastime? Should I use it in my future work/study? What do I want in life? So many questions. Time to find an answer.

For my past trips, I am always a foreigner. But this time, the line feels slightly more blurred. I think I am looking more like a Korean (ermm or at least no one can really differentiate and tell that I’m not a Korean) and I can cheat people for a longer period of time with my Korean skills before they start wondering what I really am. So, in many occasions, I felt like I was being treated like a Korean. Also, I hang out with more Koreans compared to the previous times. Working Korean adults. Things feel really different. I am kinda expected to act like a Korean. Sometimes, I missed being treated as a foreigner. I no longer get the ‘your Korean is very good’ but rather ‘you have to improve on xxx’. 부족한 부분!!!!! *sadface*

Not that it’s not a good thing. Today I was tasked with translating some IT related powerpoint slides FROM ENGLISH TO KOREAN. >< I totally hope I was of a bit of help. And I sincerely hope that he can understand my crappy Korean.

I think I have been giving a lot of Koreans the impression that foreigners who have learnt Korean for around 4 years are all around the same standard as me. And that learning Korean is not that difficult and with time it will come naturally. Erm ok. Too much positivity?

Like I said, this is just a mess of my own negative mean thoughts. I just have to sort out everything before I leave Korea. (:



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Katharine (수정)
    12 July, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    “Should I keep Korean as my pastime? Should I use it in my future work/study? What do I want in life?”

    — exactly the same questions here. But anyway, hang in there Shanna, you’ll surely find a definite answer in time 🙂

    • Reply
      12 July, 2012 at 8:16 PM

      let’s hope we find our answers soon! 😀

  • Reply
    Kwangmin Lee
    12 July, 2012 at 8:09 PM


  • Reply
    12 July, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Me too!
    At first I think of going to study in university in Korea but as you said I have thought about this last year. Then I change my mind to study in US.
    However, my passion for korean is still but right now, for me, I find no way to get a job in Korea T_TTT.

    I think many korean learners that hanging around your blog have the same question as your, Katherine’s and mine…

    • Reply
      12 July, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      I’m not sure what you’re thinking about studying. But Korean companies/people tend to value degrees in the US >>>> degrees in Korea, or so I’ve been told, since I’ve been thinking about Korean graduate school.
      On that note, if you’re worried about getting a job in Korea, I’ve had a lot of mixed responses from people. One Korean friend told me I HAVE to work in the US before Korea otherwise they’ll think I just couldn’t get a job in the U.S.
      At this point, I work for a Korean professor in his research lab (but go to an American university) which, I’m hoping, will help me in the future, because my professor knows tons of people in Korea.
      Also, if you know you want to do graduate school, University of Hawaii in Manoa has a program called “Professional Korean,” and they even set you up on internships in your field.

      Now, if you’re thinking about going directly into Korean as your field of study, be it language, literature, history, etc. I’m not EXACTLY sure how much of the above applies. Although, I want a second graduate degree in Korean literature and am considering doing that at a Korean university, because while most other degrees look better being from the U.S., a degree in a Korean related field from Korea looks better.

      • Reply
        13 July, 2012 at 8:43 AM

        I will try to get job in Us first. Actually I don’t know much about my life of what I want T^TT. I will try many thing first (and I think) I will realize later…..

  • Reply
    Xing Wei
    12 July, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Come home quick! I miss you! >.< 😛

  • Reply
    13 July, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    I had the same exact thoughts as you after my exchange, I thought I’d eventually go back to Korea and continue my post-graduate studies there or even work there. But two years on, and now that I’ve just graduated, I’ve decided to just treat Korean as a pastime and a language I use occasionally with my Korean friends and when I need to watch Korean dramas. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of working in a Korea/Korean-related field in the future, but it’s definitely not in my priorities at the moment.

    Since your Korean is pretty advanced, I think if your future job calls for it, go ahead and use it in your application! (Knowing multiple languages is a definite plus for your resume!) But if not, don’t feel pressurised to take on something Korean/Korea-related just because you wanna keep your skills intact. Good luck with your decision! (:

    • Reply
      13 July, 2012 at 8:43 AM

      Thanks!! Right now I’m still at the ‘i definitely want to go back to Korea asap’ mental state, but I’m starting to think about what is a better route and trying to juggle between what my brain and heart says. I tend to rush into stuff, which is not that great. Hopefully the answer/solution will come to me soon! 😀

  • Reply
    13 July, 2012 at 1:22 AM

    Hi 🙂

    Sometimes reading about your negative stuff is actually nice, to see posts not incessantly praising Korea and life over there. Plus I feel like I can actually relate to you more… Somehow.

    Well life in SG isn’t as fantastic either, and good to hear that you’re blending with the Korean community *insert slight jealousy* haha 🙂

    Hope your life gets better though!~ FIGHTING TO ALL~~ ^^

    • Reply
      13 July, 2012 at 8:44 AM

      ㅎㅎ thanks!! it feels good to be able to type them out and relieve (abit) of stress! I actually miss Singapore at times xD have a good weekend!!

  • Reply
    Lucie Dvorakova
    13 July, 2012 at 5:33 AM

    I also think it’s important to also talk about the downsides and not only the positives. Also since we are human, I don’t think we can keep positive 24/7 the whole entire year.

    I think it is nice to be considered as a native. I take it from my perspective of a “Eastern European” (even though I’m central – Czech), being able to blend into an English speaking society. Now I know Europeans look the same, but then again I don’t have a Eastern European accent when I speak English. Many are recognised by their accent. Everybody thinks I’m native and I’m not so easily distinguished from the majority. I don’t like to be treated differently. On one side it may be tough to adjust, but then again I don’t like to be the “outsider”… now this is something I wouldn’t be able to do in Korea even if I lived there since I was born. ㅋㅋ
    Speaking of Korean, today I’ve been completely demotivated to speak in Korean. Being a self-learner, I barely have spoken anything. And today when I gather some courage to talk to Korean tourists here in Prague in Korean (they asked me for some help)… they just stared at me as if she didn’t understand me, which made me think… ok, I’ll just shut up and tell you everything in English. ㅜ.ㅜ

    But I digress…. good luck trying to figure out what you would like to do next. This seems to be one of the hardest things… and personally, when I decide and plan something, things work out completely differently.

    Have a great day~

    • Reply
      13 July, 2012 at 5:52 AM

      I’ve had that kind of a situation happen to me.
      How much Korean did you use with them?
      I was at a Korean restaurant, and so I ordered in Korean, and when the waitress looked at me all funny, I just repeated but in English, T_T
      But I’ve been back since and had another waitress understand me.
      Sometimes it can just catch somebody off guard if they aren’t expecting you to speak Korean and it might not register. So if you just said a little, they could have been like “Wait.. this isn’t English?”

      • Reply
        Lucie Dvorakova
        13 July, 2012 at 6:05 AM

        It was just one sentence with two words, so I probably caught them off guard… but since I never speak Korean and I’ve reached elementary level so far only, I have no confidence at all, so I was worried I mispronounced “지하철” …
        I know that they said something to each other, but it was too noisy for me to hear, let alone understand. The only word I caught was “외국어”…
        Hopefully the next Koreans I talk to won’t be so shocked. ㅎㅎ

    • Reply
      13 July, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      don’t let that experience mar your confidence! 😀 I think that they are just surprised that you are actually speaking Korean ^^ And yeah, none of my planning ever works. But I still insist on planning… D:

  • Reply
    13 July, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    7 months into learning Korean in 2006 I was referred by a friend (who worked for a cosmetic and health company) to do interpretation for their Taiwanese clients. My Korean was really not good enough to do interpretation for business purpose. What’s even worse was that part of the visit dealed with traditional Chinese medicine (한약) and acupuncture. So I was really embarassed not only struggling with interpretation, but sometimes on even communicting with the CEO of the cosmetic company.

    Well, that’s all part of the process, the joy and pain of learning a language in the most traditional and Confucian society in the world. These kinds of stuff help us grow and learn, so just share your pains and negatives with us along the way.

    • Reply
      13 July, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      wow that must have been tough but still a memorable experience xD I haven’t really tried interpretation yet, I have problems holding in chunks of info in my head, not to say remembering it and instantaneously interpret it.

    Leave a Reply