Learning Korean through Hanja

At the beginning of the month, during Chuseok, I decided I wanted to try learn Hanja to help improve my Korean vocabulary. Initially, I was going to purchase Talk To Me in Korean’s Hanja Guide book because it has explanations in English plus other words where the characters appear therefore increasing my vocabulary. However, after talking with my fiance about my intentions of purchasing the book online he suggested we go visit our local book shop and buy a Hanja book aimed at beginners. The book would be in Korean therefore I’d be studying Korean whilst studying Hanja – this made a lot more sense so we went to the book shop and managed to find “쉽게 따는 행복한 급수한자 8급”. Later in Seoul, I bought a notebook to practice my Hanja stroke order which has become really useful as after Chuseok I didn’t have time to study Hanja, and so the repetition of writing the characters has helped me remember the meanings and order.

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After studying the first 20 characters in the book again in my notebook I gave myself a test to see how well I remembered the meanings, pronunciations, and the Hanja itself.

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For characters that have more stroke orders I’m planning on using 2 pages to get more used to writing them. In the book there’s a short quiz at the end of every set of 10 characters (they are put together based on the topic, i.e the days of the week, numbers etc) and one of the questions at the end of the quiz usually shows you a character with a red line on one of the strokes and asks you what number is that stroke in the stroke order (see photo below – Question 5). There is a Hanja exam people can take after every level so that type of question will probably appear in the exam often.

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I’m currently on level 8 (the lowest level) and plan to take the Hanja exam once I’ve completed levels 8 and 7 because level 8 only has 50 characters whereas level 7 has 150 and I feel like taking the level 8 exam would be a waste of money.

So there are 8 levels in total – with level 1 being the top and level 8 being the lowest. Level 8 contains 50 characters and level 1 contains 3,500 characters so there’s a huge difference in the amount of Hanja to memorise! Most young kids start to learn Hanja in primary school so by the time they reach high school they know a large amount of Hanja.

For those that are interested here are the Hanja you will learn at level 8:

  • The hangul in italics are the pronunciation of the Hanja.

 

– 달            – 불                – 물                   – 나무           – 쇠  /

– 흙            – 날                – 작을 소              – 횐              – 뫼

– 한            – 두               – 석                    – 넉 사              다섯

여섯           – 일곱            – 여덟 팔               아홉            – 열   

– 동녘 동       西 – 서녘            -남녘                – 북녘            – 큰

– 나라         – 백성           – 나라 국               – 계집 녀           – 군사

– 아비 부        – 어미            – 형                    – 아우            – 바깥

– 마디         – 일만            – 사람                 – 푸를            – 해

– 배울         – 학교            – 길/어른            – 가르칠         – 집

– 가운데     – 문               – 먼저                 – 날                 – 임금

 

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I’m finally in Korea!

It’s been just over 3 weeks since I arrived in Korea but it feels like I’ve been here longer! I have yet to officially start my new job as an English teacher at a hagwon (after school academy) but I’ve been to the school to meet the kids and shadow the current English teacher so I can get a better understanding of what to expect when I start. The school is nice, the owner is lovely and the kids are soooo cute! I can’t wait to start teaching them.

Since next week is Chuseok and that week has many holidays I don’t start work until the following week. Today I’ll be going to Seoul to try on dresses for my wedding photoshoot and then I’ll be staying at my fiance’s grandparent’s home for a few days to celebrate Chuseok with them. It’s going to be the first time I’ll see all his family members at once so I’m nervous and since my speaking ability in Korean isn’t that good I’ll probably be sitting listening to everyone talk to each other. I decided to myself that when I moved to Korea I’d make an effort to study it every day – so far so good. I’ve even started learning Hanja (the Chinese characters that you sometimes see on the news and in old books) to help me learn more words.

The weather has been good since I’ve arrived but these days it’s quite cold even during the day. Maybe it’s finally turning into Autumn…time to look for a warm jacket to buy! I’m worried about Winter the most because temperatures can get to -15 degrees which I’ve never experienced that level of coldness in my life – the coldest I’ve experienced was -6 degrees in the UK and I thought it was unbearable!! Winter jackets (with padding in them) are so expensive….I don’t really want to spend 200-300 pounds on a jacket when I haven’t even received my first paycheck. However, if I wait that long then the jackets will have increased in price due to the demand for them and then they’ll sell for about 400-500 pounds (or even more!) so I’m not sure what to do.

Also, I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather or the water here but my skin has been causing me so much stress. I feel like I’m a teenager with the amount of spots on my face – I’ve always had some trouble with my skin due to make-up and I still haven’t found out what’s causing me to break out when I wear make-up. I don’t want to go to the doctor about it because I haven’t received my health insurance yet and I also do not want to be taking pills for weeks which is what happened last year when I had the same problem. Hopefully I can try find some creams for acne.

Now I’m more settled in I really hope I remember to actively update this blog!

Next chapter in my life

So it’s been nearly a year since I started my job as a Data Gatherer and whilst it was fun for the majority of it, it has become more stressful and exhausting than I first thought it would be due to the increased targets, longer working hours, lack of social life and just night shift in general.

I’ve been very inactive with this blog which I do apologise for. Working 2 jobs (1 during the day and 1 during the night) really got to me – I was lucky if I even got out of bed at the weekend as I was usually trying to catch up on my sleep.

But pretty soon I’ll start the next chapter in my life – moving to Korea! I’m currently in the process of getting my documents ready for my E2 visa and then I’ll be moving to a small town called Seosan. It’s pretty small but it’s only a 1 hour 30 min bus journey to Seoul! I’ll be teaching English in a hagwon (private academy) So my working hours will be long but at least it’s not night shift haha.

I’ve already joined some groups on Facebook but as Seosan is so small I highly doubt there will be any foreigners there, never mind any British people. I really need to up my Korean language skills – I took the TOPIK II exam in April but I only got 103 points out of 120 😦 120 points is the minimum needed to pass the Intermediate 3 level. However it was my first try and I wasn’t sure what expect but now I know I can take the exam in korea when I’m there.

Not much else is happening in my life at the moment except me and fiance bought a new camera for our lives in Korea! We have the Canon PowerShot SX510 HS but wanted to upgrade to something with a little more quality. After some debate we decided on the Canon EOS M6 – so far so good! It’s actually really good for vlogging and selfies as the camera panel flips up so you can see yourself. You can also change the lenses which is great.

Anyway, I hope everyone is well and I’ll speak to you all soon (hopefully)!

Our relationship has changed

Since my last post I’ve been too focused on my new jobs and trying to get my TEFL certificate to post anything on here. 

The one thing I want to share with you the most is that I got engaged last month 🙂 Seunghwan proposed to me on our 5th anniversary which was romantic and sweet! We’ve been in talks with his parents and my parents about where to have the first wedding – it was obvious that we would had to have 2 weddings as it would be extremely difficult to get all our family members in the same room. We’ve decided on getting married in Korea first because next year Seunghwan graduates university and then he needs to return to do his national service. Which has made planning a wedding 10x more stressful because we need to work around it. I wanted to wait longer so we could save more money but things aren’t looking like it’ll turn out that way. We’re going to have a family discussion at Christmas with my parents to start making plans and to finalise details.

I just can’t believe we’ve been together 5 years already. How time flies! I celebrated my 22nd birthday last week and it hasn’t sunk in that I’m getting married… I’m still so young but when Seunghwan finishes his service I’ll be about 25 which is crazy to think about! It’s going to be difficult spending 2 years without him as I’ve become so accustomed to having him with me for the last 3 years. Also, I need to decide if I want continue to work in the UK or move to Korea while he’s in the army. There’s so many things I need to decide in only 1 year – it’s stressful just thinking about it!

Anyways, I hope everyone is well and hopefully you’ll see a post from me soon 🙂

Back on track

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After 2 months of being stressed, poor and unhappy, I’ve recently started a new job! When I wrote my last post I didn’t have a job as I’d left it to travel around Korea for 6 weeks, so I was desperately looking for either a full time or part time job. I applied for a few different jobs per day and was invited to an interview for Pandora – I didn’t hear back from them so continued my job search. Unexpectedly, I received an e-mail from an agency stating they had found my CV on one of the job websites and asked me if I was interested in a role at a big financial company. So, I got a telephone interview with the financial company and the next day I was told I got the job! I was excited but nervous because this would be my first ‘proper’ job after graduation and I was worried I wouldn’t be any good.

I’m a week into the training and have another week of training before I start my normal routine which will be night shift. It’ll be my first night shift job but I’m more of a night person anyway so I’m looking forward to it. I like to be organised and to follow a set of rules which this job requires employees to do so I think I will greatly enjoy this job. I feel like it came at the right time – I was and still am struggling financially because I have only had 1 month’s wage to live on for the last 3 months but the pay at this job is weekly so I can finally get myself back on track.

2 months ago I received an unconditional offer to study a Masters degree in International Marketing but due to not being able to get any funds to cover the cost of tuition I had to decline the offer which really upset me. I like studying and I like learning about marketing so it would have been a really good chance for me to increase my knowledge on the subject. However, it’s not a requirement for most graduate jobs therefore it really isn’t necessary for me to study further. I do plan to keep some of my wage and save some money so if  I want to study next year or a few years later I have the funds to do so. Although, I was sad for not being able to do the degree, I do now have a full time job so things are looking up!

In addition to getting a new job, I will also have a side job as a private English teacher. My boyfriend met a Korean couple through the sports club he plays with and the wife was looking for an English teacher to help her improve her English whilst she is living in Scotland. My boyfriend introduced me to them and I agreed I would teach her English 3 times a week before work. I’m still in the process of doing my TEFL course and plan to finish it this month so I’ll be fully qualified to teach. I’m nervous about teaching because I don’t have any experience but this opportunity will help me later if I do want to go to Korea to teach. It’ll be a learning curve for both of us 🙂

If you guys have any tips on teaching English for the first time, I’d really appreciate it!

 

 

 

I need a little pick-me-up

I’ve just been feeling down lately, with trying to find a job and find funding for my post graduate degree. I’ve been really unproductive playing old Pokémon games and watching anime. When I feel like this I tend to stray towards music to help me with my feelings.

This music video was actually introduced to me by my father when I was in Korea. He told me the video had Korean in it so I had to check it out for myself. I really like the song and the music video is okay although it gives off a Japanese feel even though the writing is in Korean and the woman speaks Korean at the end. The way everyone is wearing the same work clothes (grey) and even the train at the beginning of the video reminds me of Japan for some reason. Nonetheless, I am constantly listening to this song on Spotify to get me through the day.

Another song by the same group, One Republic, that makes me emotional but really motivates me to do some good in the world is their song ‘I Lived’. It just makes me think about my life and how there are other people in the world who have it worse than me so I really shouldn’t be feeling the way I am. Instead, I should think positively about life and how I can improve it, even if it’s by something as simple as donating money to charity.

 

 

 

Travelling around Seoul in Hanbok

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While in Korea I had the opportunity to rent a Hanbok (Korean traditional dress) for the day and travel around Seoul in it. Baring in mind it was around 30 degrees and I wore the dress for 10 hours, I was so tired after it but it was one of the most memorable experiences I had in Korea.

In the morning my boyfriend and I travelled to Insadong where we rented the hanboks. The store is called 오늘 하루 and is really easily accessible from several stations (see map below). Check out their Facebook page!

오늘 하루

It was really cheap to rent the hanbok for the day. To rent the hanbok for 4 hours it costs 14,000 won and for 24 hours it’s 28,000 won. A really good deal if you ask me! Since we weren’t staying in Seoul we couldn’t keep the hanbok for 24 hours so we returned them when the shop closed at 8pm but if you can wear them for 24 hours, I would recommend that you do because it’s a nice experience wearing Korean traditional dress.

You get to choose the type of hanbok that you want to wear and the colours which is really nice. The staff members do help with choosing matching colours so if you don’t have any idea what colour you want to wear they are happy to help. I was undecided between a pastel style hanbok and a vibrant style but in the end with the staff’s recommendation I chose the pastel style.

 

My boyfriend also wanted to wear hanbok so the staff recommended he wore similar colours to mine so we’d match. Some of the older people who stopped to speak to us asked if  we had just got married as we were wearing matching hanboks! We did get a lot of stares, especially from older people but all of the comments were kind and positive. Many people said we were pretty when we walked passed which was nice to hear. The benefit of wearing a hanbok in Seoul is that you can visit some of the traditional palaces for free! We took advantage of that and went to Gyeongbokgung Palace which is where you can see many people wearing the Korean traditional dress.

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When we were in the Palace we were stopped by a reporter who wanted to interview us. It was a surreal experience being interviewed, especially in Korean. The interview was for a Chinese broadcasting network in New York but the reporter was Korean (strange, I know). He wanted to do an article on why wearing hanbok is so popular these days, especially amongst foreigners. It was really fun and the cameraman took shots of us taking photos of ourselves which was awkward but funny. In the end we only appeared for 3 seconds and I don’t speak but it was an experience that I probably wouldn’t have had if I never wore the hanbok that day so I’m grateful for it. If you can understand Chinese then here’s the link to the article: http://www.ntdtv.com/xtr/gb/2016/06/11/a1270713.html

Before arriving at the Palace we were stopped by a Korean guy who wanted to take a picture of us for his Instagram account. At the same time we were asked by a Chinese mother and daughter where we rented our hanboks so we were slightly confused what to do. We got asked a lot where we got our hanboks by tourists throughout the day so we always just showed them the nearest subway station and explained where to go as neither of us had mobile data to use.

At night we decided to visit Namsan Tower before handing back our hanboks. We wanted to take the cable car but couldn’t find the way from the subway exit. Coincidentally, a couple asked us how to get to the cable car at the subway exit so we decided to walk there together. The woman was a Korean woman who had studied in the UK for her masters a few years ago and the man was Chinese who was visiting Korea for a few days. He had also studied in the UK for his masters which was a surprising coincidence. They had both also been to Scotland! So it was nice talking to them and asking them where they had visited in the UK. Actually, they weren’t a couple at all. They had met through a language exchange type app and the Korean woman was showing the guy around Seoul for the day. We spent a few hours together taking photos and chatting which was a nice way to end the day.

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I had such a great day and would definitely do it again! If you have the time you should definitely rent some hanboks and travel around the city for the day with friends. It’ll be an experience you won’t forget!