Monday, February 18, 2013

LanguageCast Hongdae

클로리스 티 & 커피에는 언어 교환. Photo by Katelyn
Language exchange! Echange linguistique! 언어 교환! Tonight, I discovered something amazing that happens every week -- multiple times a week, actually -- in Seoul: LanguageCast.

The gist of it is that dozens of people descend upon a sponsoring cafe solely to converse with other people in many different languages. There are tables designated for French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Korean, English, Chinese, and probably more. The crowds were huge at the Hongdae location, which I attended tonight; other exchanges take place throughout the week in Gangnam and near Korea University (mostly, I gather, for English-Korean exchanges).

I was overwhelmed when I walked into Chloris Tea & Coffee and heard the babble of so much conversation in so many languages. I could tell that some Koreans, unaware that a special event was going on, were also overwhelmed and also confused. But there were also many Koreans purposefully there, helping foreigners practice Korean or practicing other languages with foreigners. I ordered a latte and headed straight for the French table, and I basically stayed there all night, reviving my rusty French with folks from Paris and Marseille (I met some French-born Koreans for the first time!) and other francophones from Korea and the US.

There was also the opportunity to practice Korean, of course, which I did. And I tried a little bit of Mandarin with a Taiwanese woman but only managed to disappoint her and severely embarrass myself.  Too many languages in my brain results in 언어를 헷갈랴요 (mixing them all up)! Yet the lingua franca seemed to be English here; the event organizers were English-speaking Koreans, anyhow. Oh! I have to mention that the organizers are the people who run, the website where I self-studied Korean for a month before even arriving here. I was so surprised to see Hyunwoo, the podcast host whose photos and videos are all over the site, in person for the first time.

Overall, it's hard to describe the general 분위기 (atmosphere) of the place. It's frenetic, like a busy marketplace, but also very fun. There were so many interesting people to meet, from impressive polyglots to total beginners. Time simply flew by from 7:30-11:30 pm. For the last hour, it was very quiet and only the French table remained (even after all the actual French people had left), but I was still hooked, and I was thinking, "If only I could do this every evening!" Alas, the Hongdae meetup occurs only on Mondays, which means next Monday is actually the last chance I have to attend! 어떻게? :(

In conclusion... 오늘 레인귀즈카스트 다녔으니까 기분이 종말 좋네요! 다음 번에 다시 갈거예요. 그 때 한국말을 연습할것 같아요... 아니면 프랑스어를 또 이야기를 나눌거예요! 몹시 바라다!

(Translation: I feel great from having gone to the LanguageCast today! I'm going to go again next time. Then I'll maybe practice Korean... or converse in French again! I can't wait!)

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