Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Korea: 2011 Summer Fellows: Saying Goodbye
In just the past 3 months, my conversational skills in Korean had increased tremendously thanks to the program that I was in. I agree with Caleb Dependahl in that I highly recommend people who want to learn Korean to take it at Sogang University in order to improve their speaking skills.
And now the time has come to say goodbye to my classmates. They definitely made my experience in Korea very unique and special. I will miss those times that we studied very hard in memorizing dialogues and trying out restaurants and dessert places in the area. We had a farewell dinner last Wednesday and ended the night Korean style by going to a "noraebang", which is a karaoke room. In a "noraebang", you have a private room with disco lights and musical instruments that you can bang with such as tambourines. We also were able to eat ice cream for free; however, not all places give out free ice cream. We only payed for 2 hours but they gave us about 30 minutes more to sing. Each hour was equivalent to about $24. We had a big group but typically each hour in a noraebang is about $13 or even less. It's better to go in the daytime because it's cheaper and often times they'll add more minutes for free.
In the book "Korea Unmasked" by Won-bok Rhie, it said that "noraebang" came to Korea around the 1990s and appeared in Japan in the 1980s. So noraebang is fairly a recent phenomenon in Korea, and there are at least one or two on everyblock and sometimes there is a microphone projected outside of the place to lure in customers. They'll choose a room to advertise, but from my experience by being caught off guard by walking past one, they usually choose the room with the worst singers.
One of my favorite experiences that I had with my classmates was going to a Korean pop concert about a month and a half ago. Famous k-pop stars such as 2pm, F(x), 4minute, No Brain and much more came out to sing. The crowd consisted of overly excited middle school kids holding up signs of their favorite groups and families. If you like catchy dance music, then you'll love k-pop. The concert was free which is always a good thing. It's hard to catch a free show like this because they usually put it together the very last minute. One of my classmates who is into k-pop was on top of things when it came to k-pop concerts so we were able to check it out.
One thing that I'll miss about Korea is their coffee shops. There alot of cute and unique French-style coffee shops. Alot of the shops are 3 or even 4 stories high and is filled with people on the weekends. I will miss drinks that I could find only in Korea such as iced sweet potato latte. I have been desperately trying to find a place that sells sweet potato latte in VA and Breeze Bakery in Annandale, VA sells it, thank goodness!! I'd have to say that one of the most unique cafes that I had ever been to was going to a cat cafe. It's a cafe but you can play with cats at the same time. Don't worry dog lovers, there are also dog cafes around. At the cat cafe that I went to, we had to pay $7 as an entrance fee and we got one drink free. The selection wasn't too bad, and I ordered an iced caramel macchiato. There was a list of rules that they showed us, and one was that we were not allowed to hold the cats. They had pictures of them on the wall with their names and ages.
I am very thankful to have given this opportunity to learn Korean and travel there once more. I definitely made so many memories and discovered new things about the culture this time around.
MA Speech and Language Pathology 2013
Sigur Center 2011 Korean Language Fellow
Sogang Unviersity, South Korea