Where I am now and the place that I thought I would be two years ago are so vastly different that it all feels too surreal sometimes.
(either thinking about Korean connectives or about my love for kimchi fried rice)
Last year I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship called Study Asia, and participated in a summer programme in South Korea. I fell in love with the place, wrote a series of ridiculous blog posts while I was there, and was itching to go back as soon as I landed back in Edinburgh last July.
(casual rooftop view from my dormitory = SNU campus on the left, Gwanak mountains in the background)
I figured I would have to wait a long time, and have been considering doing postgraduate Linguistics studies in Korea, but the gears in my head started moving and my internal cash budget started calculating when the applications for the Principal’s Go Abroad fund opened.
That’s how I found myself back in Korea just a few months later ready for my 10-week intensive Korean Language course at Seoul National University.
(팥빙수 = also known as the world’s greatest dessert, at least in my opinion)
Do you know that feeling you get in your stomach when you’re really nervous or really excited about something? Like there is some kind of furry monster tickling your insides? Maybe not. But I got that feeling at random times during the day. Like if I learned a new grammar concept, successfully produced the correct change or had a moment to just collect my thoughts and think, ‘I’m in Korea!’ It’s a very special place to me.
(me according to one of my classmates. I didn’t realise my hair was quite as bad)
I wanted to go there again because my dream is to work for the Korean Literature Translation Institute. I developed an appreciation for Korean literature after my visit last year, and I think it’s a really interesting way to learn more about Korean culture, life, and how Korean people think. I’m trying to build up my collection but my favourite so far is ‘No-One Writes Back’ by Jang Eun-jin. It’s a story about one man and his dog who are travelers together, and it has one of my very favourite quotes in it – ‘It is when we travel that our hearts and our minds are the most open’.
I learned so much this summer, had an absolutely amazing time exploring and appreciating another culture, and thought a lot about my future goals and where I might be able to go in my life. None of this would have been something I considered without the support and reassurance from Edinburgh University and the Go Abroad fund! 고맙습니다!