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Jumping into a new language and culture

기사승인 2018.09.04  23:18:37

공유
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Bam Walaiphan

Division of Liberal Arts

The moment I stepped into the Incheon Airport, it was a new life for me. I am sure everyone feels the same way when they leave for a new adventure in a different country. When I was in high school preparing for my university applications, I never thought of coming all the way to Korea, but thought of going to either the U.S. or the U.K. I wasn’t interested in K-pop. But the reason I chose Ewha because a friend from Thailand that introduced this university. Living as a Thai in Korea was harder than I thought. The hardest part was culture and language difference. For example, in Thailand it is considered rude to make any noise when eating even if you are with friends.

When I first came to Korea and went to have a meal with my senior, she thought that I did not like the food because I was eating too quietly. Also, the jjimjilbang culture in Korea was a phenomenal experience. I realized that Koreans enjoy going to saunas specially called jjimjilbang here. Going into burning hot saunas and sitting there for minutes sweating out was hard to understand because back home the weather was hot enough. To define jjimjilbang exactly, it is a large gender-segregated public bathhouse specially in Korea. It was an interesting place because when I first walked in, there were people sleeping on the floor, eating egg and drinking sikhye. The place even had a small arcade. Experiencing this was very fun until we went to the hot spring. At the hot spring, women were walking around confidently without covering themselves. Watching the people shower and changing in the changing rooms publicly was interesting. This was something new to me so when I had to change and shower, I was trying to cover my body with a small towel and my hands as I felt shy. But, getting to know such Korean culture was fascinating. I am still a bit shy going into jjimjilbang even after being here for a year. Adapting to the difference in culture was not as a bad as the language barrier. Learning Korean a challenge. Starting from writing to alphabets, it was completely different.

Especially for me, I had to add on a new language to my list. Including Korean, I know in total four languages – Thai, Burmese, English and Korean. Knowing these several languages, learning Korean was definitely not easy. I got confused with English sometimes but Thai the most. When I started my first semester, I could not understand Korean at all. This made it hard to make friends and step outside my bubble. But as time passes, I can see the progress in my Korean.

Leaving Thailand was a big change for me as I came to Korea to start a new chapter of my life. But, having to experience a different culture was a great chance for me to learn more about the uniqueness in a country

Bam Walaiphan (Liberal Arts) evoice@ewhain.net

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