한국어, the Korean language. It's been quite interesting trying to learn this language. My Japanese friends told me that already studying Japanese would make Korean a bit easier to understand. It's true. I already accept (without questioning or wondering why) the order of sentences, the titles given to people of different age groups, and pronunciation. I even notice some similarities in words, like how "time" in Korean is shigan, and jikan in Japanese.
.... You don't see the similarity? That's ok. For me, it not only rhymes, but is very easy to remember.
About a month before leaving the States, I began learning Korean from this website called Talk To Me In Korean. (This website is amazing, by the way. I love all the people and their dedication to teaching the Korean language in a fun way). I was successfully able to learn numbers and a few important verbs and conjugation rules, but there was just so much to prepare for that I didn't get to study as much as I'd wanted. I figured once I arrived in Korea, I'd be able to get in a few lessons a day.
WRONG! Oh, how wrong I was.
I knew vaguely of the schedule they'd put us on. Lectures and field trips would be abundant during the three week orientation I was about to begin. I did not, however, anticipate being so exhausted after lectures that I just wanted to send emails and go to sleep.
It wasn't that bad. I suppose with a bit more effort I could've made time to learn one lesson a day, but the orientation's schedule (which I can talk about later) did keep us all quite busy.
Oh, but I DID study. I did learn new phrases and words on my own, from new friends, from Korean friends and strangers that I met along the way, and (of course) from labels and signs.
Thanks to breakfast time in the cafeteria, I learned words like milk (우유) and napkin (냅킨). Thanks to doing laundry in the dorm building's basement, I can recognized the regular washing cycle (표춘). Thanks to taking walks around town, I added train station (city name followed by 역), bank (은행), and noraebang... karaoke rooms (노래방) to my vocabulary.
Thanks to a four year old boy named Optimus Prime, I learned airplane (비행기), and thanks to his mother (the nurse who helped us all greatly during orientation), I have a lot of phrases written down in Korean, "just in case."
Now,things have settled down a tiny bit, and I have more time to stop and read all the signs. I have time to frequent a coffee shop and say, "hot chocolate 주세요!" I have time to ask old ladies for help reading bus stop signs. I have a bit more time to ask the worker at the supermarket where the cough drops are located. In time, I should be striking up random conversations with Korean people my age and saying more than hello, "안녕하세요," to the other teachers and staff at school. All in good time.