Looking for a better future and a better self
When everybody asked me ‘why are you studying Korean language?’ I always answer, ‘why not?’ Studying other cultures and languages is fascinating, it helps understanding better the world around you, meeting and talk with people you would have never thought before, and also realize some things about yourself and your own culture!
My not-so common background!
I majored in East Asian Studies, specialization on Korea, in 2015, being part of the first class that ever graduated in that major in my country, and also the Spanish-speaking world. My job prospective didn’t look so well, nobody in the country had heard before about my major, and Korea was still not a well known country in Spain. In addition, my Korean was kind of mediocre, not enough for a job, and no classes to continue improving. So I had 2 options, the first was stay in my parents’ house while trying to find a job and probably just work in something not related to my major, or I could get out of my comfort zone and apply for the Korean Government Scholarship Program. And that’s what I did.
The scholarship that changed my life for the best!
KGSP is the biggest and most important scholarship of Korea. It consists of one year of Korean Language course and 4, 2 or 3 years for undergraduate, Master’s degree and Doctoral degree, respectively. This scholarship pays for everything: from airfare, to tuition and living expenses. Every year, hundreds of students from all over the world are granted this scholarship and start a new stage in their life. I was lucky enough to be one of them. After quite a long and complicated process, I came to Korea on the summer of 2016 to study a Master’s Degree in Tourism Management in Daegu. I had 3 objectives in mind, study Korean until I got an advanced level, complete a Master’s Degree so I could specialized more my career, and challenge myself living abroad for 3 years.
|Here we went to fulfill a Korean tradition - watch the first sunrise of the year!|
Not a newbie to Korea!
It wasn’t my first time in Korea -as I already stayed for 4 months in Incheon as an exchange student by my own-, and my major provided me with plentiful knowledge about the country. I knew already the cultural cues, the busy lifestyle of Korea and the spiciness of the food, but anyway I was still fascinated with everything and I enjoyed it as it was the first time.
My two loves in Korea: Busan and Daegu
I spent my first year of Korean language course in Busan. There, I was able to study Korean with people from all different countries and experience a lot of fun culture activities. After I finished my year of language study, I came to Daegu for my Master’s. In KGSP program, the students choose the university they like most from a list provided by the organization, and it's assigned a different city for their language program. They do this so students can have different experiences in Korea, which I think it's a great idea! So, why choose Daegu? Well, I didn’t want to live in Seoul, too crowded, busy and too much of a big city for me. In Daegu I had one of my best friends in Korea, and while looking for universities that had a Master’s degree in Tourism Management, some universities of Busan and Daegu showed up. Out of them, Keimyung University looked the best, their dorm was cheap and they had an international lounge where meeting new Korean friends would be easy! So I decided to choose Daegu as my city to live for at least 2 years.
|In front of the sign of my language course university, Dongseo University!|
|One of the many times I could try a hanbok during my language school course|
|Me and my closest friends in Daegu in front of ColorfulDaegu sign!|
Getting to know people from different backgrounds!
I started my Master’s Degree, which is quite different from undergraduate; less competitiveness and fewer exams, but it is expected of you to study more on your own and develop your research topic. Also, I was the youngest student, as all of my classmates are already working and in their 30s or 40s. While is true that in Korea people usually don't go directly for graduate school, I think my major was quite special, as most of my classmates started working first and then decided to specialize more with a Phd or Master's degree. At first I was surprised and kind of sad that there weren’t that many people of my age, but now I’m so happy it is the way it is. It has helped me getting to know Korean people of different ages and background I was used to. It’s been a great experience and I’m learning a lot thanks to my professors and classmates. Don’t be afraid! People here are super nice and they always will try to help you and make you feel better if you have any problem! :)
|My class in the language school in Busan! People from all the continents!|
A long flight to pursue my dream!
While I didn’t need to prepare a budget before coming to Korea, because my scholarship paid for everything (you should really look it up if you want to come to Korea, seriously!), I can give an approximate budget of what I spent in my first months in Korea. I’m from Spain so I took a plane from my city, Malaga (Malaga airport) to Paris (Charles de Gaulle), and then another plane to Incheon (Incheon International Airport), and lastly a third plane to Busan (Gimhae Airport). Of course, there is a direct plane from Spain to Incheon, from the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, but it was more expensive. It was a long trip that cost around 1100 dollars, it can cost you less if you look it earlier than I did! After that, the first month it’s going to be the most expensive; you need to buy for the first time a lot of things (dorm or room rent, bathroom stuff, kitchen stuff if you cook, a sim card, transportation card, and also you’ll probably travel more), but I would say that around 900 dollars would be enough. In Daegu, the price range would be around 250~400 dollars per month for a room with kitchen and bathroom for yourself (called oneroom), and 150~200 per month if you live in a dorm! Don’t worry, after that you’ll spend less! I can live with 600 dollars per month in my own oneroom!
Now after almost 2 years here I can say I did the right thing leaving my comfort zone in Spain and try to challenge myself living in this wonderful and fascinating country! I’ve learn more Korean, more about Korea culture, and more about myself! Don’t miss the opportunity to come if you can! :)