It’s our second ‘Like It’ video! YAY!!!^^ And, as hubby said in there somewhere: We are just getting started.
It’s exciting to think of it that way because we really do like this place. Korea, for all it’s Kpop and Kdrama and tasty food and other things that people know about this place is, we believe, still a mystery for people who haven’t been here….. and even for us that do. It may sound a bit crazy, but we still sometimes don’t know what to expect from this place during day to day living. It makes living here exciting and fresh, something Richard and I welcome.
I feel like there is so much information we left out during taping. For example, the reason why we chose this question over the barrage of other questions we received. The reason we wanted to address this topic before others that we may very well cover in later episodes is simply because these are the types of questions we are asked the most by family and friends when we are home. The ‘language barrier’ line of questioning is sometimes a difficult one to answer, and as well can be a difficult one to understand if someone hasn’t been here before. We also find that people from different countries who come and live in Korea have different experiences. Some of them explain quite differently how the language barrier feels to them, and making sure we put this out there in the blog here is important.
Korea (like pretty much anywhere) is constantly changing. That being said, for us Korea seems to change a little bit more quickly than other places we’ve lived or experienced. For instance, we’ve never seen a place that builds a house or apartment from start to finish faster than here. It’s incredible. Things change so quickly here that sometimes it hard to keep up. We used to go to this Chicken Galbi restaurant when we first started living together not too far from our house and loved it. We’d go regularly, and we were there so much that the staff knew us well. The place also did a really good business and so we were in shock one even when we set out for dinner only to find that it had been closed. When it re-opened about a week later, it wasn’t a chicken restaurant anymore, and looked nothing like the original place. We were in shock, and a little bit sad as well. We have since found a new Chicken Galbi place to eat near our home and love it!
But it isn’t just the physical Korea that changes quickly. It’s also the people. We have observed that the overall level of English that people possess across the country has increased since 2008 when Richard arrived here. This is simply observational, but he has told me in recent conversations that, as a general rule, His students level of communication ability in English has risen in the last 5 years. This makes sense if you attempt to look at the situation in Korea from a macro point of view. Hagwon (private academy) schools sprung up in mass in the 1990s, and have since become a central part of the education economy in Korea. Clearly this is true from factors like the number of foreign English teachers that now live in Korea and teach English. Students that started attending these schools back then are now entering university everywhere, and apparently all this money spent by parents for their children to study English is beginning to pay off. The importance of English in Korea as a focus of study in order to find a better job and have a more successful and happy life cannot be underestimated, and we can see this throughout society.
One of the funnier parts of the video I thought was when Richard said he didn’t know a word of Korean before coming here. I asked him about this after we were done filming, and he told me it was true. I found this unusual, and honestly a bit fascinating, because he is bilingual in English and Spanish. He didn’t have parents that spoke Spanish with him growing up; instead, he actually learned it the same way many of us learn a second or third language: by studying it. (it was actually one of his majors in college) Therefore, it seemed somewhat ironic and counterproductive that he would come to here without knowing anything. His response: I wanted to try my hardest to have a fresh perspective of a new country I had never been to simply by arriving in it, and then going from there. And if you think about it, back in 2002, this was a lot easier to do than now. In 2002, YouTube didn’t even exist as a website. Wow I can’t even believe I just wrote that!
In short, it is now easier than ever for people from all over the world to come here, and even with only a few words of Korean language still interact with Koreans. Does this mean that there will be perfect communication between foreigners and Koreans? Far from it. The more Korean language you know the better. That goes for being in any country. Demonstrating respect for Korea by knowing some of the language is the best thing anyone coming here can do when interacting with the people. And with that in mind, if your Korean language isn’t perfect, it isn’t the end of the world, even for people that live here. Like I said in the video, my Korean isn’t that strong, and somehow I still get by fine and love living here. It’s amazing how that is possible.