Thursday, June 6, 2013

현충일 - Memorial Day

Korean Memorial Day is June 6th. Everyone is on holiday, so I didn't have to go to school. Instead, I went on a hike with tutors and students from the community center Korean class that I've been attending once a week for the past year. It was my first time in Jinhae, one of the three older cities that makes up the incorporated city of Changwon.

Three awesome things: the weather was great; hot, but not too uncomfortable, which means that summer's really here. Second, the food that people packed for a picnic was also great -- I had 떡만두 (rice cake dumplings) and rice balls for the first time. Also, the really nice Chinese couple invited everyone over to their apartment afterward for watermelon and beer.
Canada, China, England, United States, Korea. Hiking in Jinhae!
The last awesome thing was the language exchange that happened. There was a very diverse group of hikers today: about half were Korean, but there were also representatives of Canada, England, the US (that's me), China, Taiwan, and Russia. I communicated in English, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean, and it was excellent practice. Although the state of my spoken Chinese is pretty dismal after two years of almost no practice, I was able to stumble through extended conversations with the Chinese couple and the Taiwanese exchange students (who, when they discovered that I can also speak Taiwanese, albeit with an overbearing American accent, proceeded to switch to that instead).

As for Korean, I realized today when I struck up a conversation with one of the Korean tutors whom I hadn't met before that my Korean skills have improved vastly since I arrived in this country. I couldn't say much more than my name and "I love you" before, but the immersion has truly helped. I'm grateful for the amazing opportunity I've had this past year to learn an almost-completely new language, and I'm still determined to become fluent before I leave.

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