Destination: eternity. 천리길도 한걸음부터 – even a thousand-mile journey starts with a step

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The first month – afterword

It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve moved to Korea. Looking back it seems to have gone quite fast, yet it was full of events, adventures and challenges. Here is a little summary of what has happened.

Aug 26-27 – I packed.

Aug 27 – I went to the airport and flew to Prague. Plane to Incheon delayed because of the typhoon. Slept in a hotel.

Aug 28 – Plane to Incheon took off. Long and boring flight.

Aug 29 – Arrived at the dorm around 5am. Drowsy first day in Korea.

Aug 30 – Moved rooms in the morning then off to orientation in Gyeongju. Orientation + dinner + talent show.

Aug 31 – Field trip to Gyeongju Expo Park, Pohang, POSCO, Yangdong village etc.

Sept 3 – Orientation of the language course. Everything in Korean. Ouch.

Sept 4 – First day of language course. Class is Cherry + me + 10 Chinese. Thinking about “what the heck am I doing here??” Plus lots of rain.

Sept 5 – I went to the bank. I talked in Korean. The reply was in Korean. I prayed that the right thing is happening. haha. Then went for a walk around the lake near campus.

Sept 6 – Played yutnori (traditional Korean game) in class.

Sept 7 – Played games during Korean culture class. Went to a galbi (pork rib) restaurant with the girls to celebrate the first week ^^

Sept 8 – Went to Seoul with Dorothy: Namdaemun Market, Deoksugung Palace, Gwanghwamun, and King Sejong Museum.

Sept 9 – Went to church with Dorothy ^^

Sept 12 – I said I wanted 운동 (undong = sport) instead of 우동 (udong = a type of soup) at the cafeteria…….

Sept 14 – Still struggling with how to express myself. My brain is buzzing with things I want to say. And I got my ticket for the cover dance final.

Sept 16 – Realized I can speak Korean. Wow.

Sept 17 – Typhoon. Windy and rainy but we couldn’t go home earlier :c

Sept 20 – Having fun with my classmates~ They’re pretty funny ^^

Sept 22 – Went to Gyeongju to see my friends perform at the kpop cover dance final. Did a little sightseeing in the afternoon then watched the performances in the evening. Lots of fun~

Sept 26 – Midterm: speaking.

Sept 27 – Midterm: grammar + vocabulary + listening. Class president treated us to dinner ^^

Sept 28 – Field trip to folk museum + Lotte World + ice-skating. Fun~~~

Sept 29 – Lazing around. Rare day.

Sept 30 – Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving day). Went to Hongdae in the afternoon.

I’m planning to write posts about the things in bold – either now or later. Anything you want me to write about? Just leave a comment :)



Don’t panic! – The first month

I know I’m a little behind with the blog, but before writing about my first days, the language course, the food, the friends I’ve made and the adventures I had (and the challenges I took up), I want to put this here as a note to myself and to you if you’re going through something similar.

The first month is always the hardest. Whether in a new school (or job), at a new place, in a new language (or this all at the same time), you’ll find the first month really hard. No matter how sure you were about it before, you’ll feel doubt and panic coming in smaller or bigger waves. Why am I here? Can I really do this? (Can I go home now?)

There is also the feeling of discomfort, confusion, and of being lost. You don’t really know how things work yet, but it’s okay. You see, taste, meet unknown things, get into unknown situations and you’re scared of making mistakes. It’s alright. Mistakes are the best teachers.

No matter how anxious you are, no matter how hard it feels, this is just the first month. You’ll learn, experience, try, understand things you never thought. You will get through the times you just want to run away, just take up the challenges without worries about the results. You can do more than you have ever thought.

Take it easy. Don’t be hard on yourself. This first month is when you can mess up as much as you want because it doesn’t count. This is the training period, the approbation. It’s there for you to learn without pressure, so don’t stress out about it. You’ll be okay. You’ll fight, survive, cope with things, learn and grow, mature.

When you look back at the end of the first month, you’ll smile. You’ve got it going!

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Field trip (120831)

On the morning of the field trip I woke up early and went for a walk around the lake beside the hotel. The weather was nice and the place was beautiful, so I enjoyed it a lot. Along the path there were all kinds of trees and plants I’ve never seen. When just living at home, I didn’t notice that the plants would be special – it is easy to think that they are the same all over the world. But they are different; here there is bamboo, cedar, different pine trees that I’ve never seen.

We had breakfast at the hotel – finally something closer to Western-style food! They had omlette and French toast too, and I tried lichi for the first time. It was much better than I expected :P. I was eating with and talking to this cute Russian girl, who tried hard with her English even though she wasn’t very good at it. We took another walk around the lake after breakfast and then we set out for the field trip.

the lake beside the hotel

Our first stop was the Gyeongju World Culture Expo. The name can be misleading, because it was mostly about the time when Gyeongju was the capital of Korea (called Silla at that time). There were exhibitions about the myths/legends/folk stories that originate from that time. Many of them sounded familiar to me, and then I remembered. I watched the movie called Jeon Woochi last year and it had all these myths mixed into it, which I had no idea about at that time… Some treasures from the Silly dynasty were also exhibited, such as crowns, shoes, necklaces and tiles.
There was also the Gyeongju Tower, which had this amazing architecture (see picture). The view was amazing from the top floor. Another exhibition about the old capital, Silla was in the tower, too. What is amazing about Silla is that it was fully planned; they had planned what building goes where.
The last thing at the expo was the 3D movie, which was about one of the myths.

Gyeongju Tower

Pohang city has invited us to have lunch at the city council, so we went there next. Pohang is a really cool city, in terms of what they have and what they are planning to achieve. (Their promotional video has really convinced me, you see.) With a huge harbor, industrial area, research center, planned “silicon valley” it is indeed a very impressive place. (Not too impressive in terms of architecture though…)

Pohang city

They wanted us to see the POSCO industrial area, so we went there and shortly visited a factory. POSCO is famous for making steel; it is one of the biggest steel-making companies in the world. They import the raw materials and make steel from them, which they sell to factories making all kinds of machine (from refrigerators to ships). The part that we visited was the reheating and finishing parts of steel-making. It was really hot inside and steam was coming up from the cooling process. The steel was then rolled up into huge rolls – they are making around 500 of them everyday. It was really interesting though we would have preferred more explanation about what was going on in the factory…

Our next stop was the Yangdong folk village (close to Gyeongju). It is an old village that has been preserved as it was about 200 years ago. They interesting thing about it is that it is a village today as well, so all the houses we were looking at had people living in them! At one of the houses an old lady was out in the garden, not minding the visitors… Unfortunately we had only a very short time for the village, I really want to go back or visit a village similar to this one.

Yangdong folk village

The last stop of our visit was the Saemaul Movement Museum. It is located in a small village near Pohang (called Saemaul?), which was the originator of a kind of revival/movement in Korea in the 1970’s, which then led to the economic revival and growth that is present in Korea today. We also had the chance to meet the old man who was the leader of the village at the time of the movement. This movement and the ideas behind it had made a deep impression on me, so I’m planning on writing a separate post about it.

After all this we finally headed back for the dorm (a joyful 4-hour ride!). Everyone was really tired and sleepy… We stopped in Daegu for dinner – Mr. Shin, our kind of coordinator here negotiated on the dinner for us, so we had a great dinner for a cheap price. It was an American-Korean fusion restaurant, and food was good as usual :) We arrived at the dorm around midnight, and went to sleep in our new, final rooms with the thoughts of the coming weekend… :)

(to be continued)

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Orientation (120830)

On the morning of the 30th we moved to the girls’ dorm – which is basically the same as the boys’, but it’s the girls’. It was kind of early for that, because we had to do it before 7:30. Then we got on the bus to go to Gyeongju for the orientation. Dear NIIED please tell me why we had to travel 4+ hours? Gyeongju is quite far from Suwon…

We got bread and milk for breakfast. It’s funny how bread in Korea is not bread, it’s basically what we would call pastry back in Hungary. One of them had a peanuty crust and the other one had red bean paste filling. Good stuff and cheap! I love pastry a lot so I was happy to know Korea has this great stuff, too :)

It was raining a lot on our way, tropical storm Tembin was just casually passing through the middle of Korea. There were a lot of mountains on the way and many of them had clouds around their tops. I was wondering if the mountains were tall or the clouds were really low… I think it’s the later.

can you see the mountains?

We had lunch at a restaurant in Gyeongju. It was a self-service restaurant, so we all grabbed a plate and went around to take anything we liked… There were so many things! All kinds of noodles, fish and pickled vegetables… Some of the seafood looked a little scary, and there was a lot of raw fish. I took from whatever looked yummy and ate some rice cake at the end. It was really good~ The restaurant was filled with cute old people :)


Then we had to hurry to the orientation, because we were already late… There were welcoming speeches, some information and performances. Although I cringe when I think of speeches, luckily Koreans don’t like to make then long. One of the speeches (was it Dr. Lee’s?) was really inspiring – he was talking about his time studying abroad and he gave us advice on how to make the most of it. The two things that stuck in my mind were 1) helping your friends/others and 2) planning ahead.

The performances were traditional Korean performances: samulnori and dances. Samulnori (사물놀이) is a drum performance with four instruments: jing (징, a big brass gong), buk (북, a big drum), janggu (장구, an hourglass-shaped drum played on both sides), and kkwaenggwari (꽹과리, a small brass gong). This last one is the lead instrument. I liked the performance but it felt a little loud sometimes :) The dances were beautiful but very different from the folk/traditional dances I’m used to.

fan dance

After the orientation we had dinner, it was good~ but I had to ask Yushan who sat next to me about some of the food we were eating because I had no idea what they were… Turned out I was eating squid. Yikes! We had really fun converstations during dinner, you guys are great!


There was a little talent show after dinner. At the beginning some senior KGSP students were performing, and then came the new students’ performances. It was really fun, some of them danced/sang really well, some on them were just plain funny. We tried to imitate some of the dances at our table, thinking we can dance that too… but I guess we were wrong? haha

After dinner I looked around in the garden of the hotel a little bit, but it was too dark so I decided to come back in the morning. The hotel we stayed at was of this modern-traditional architecture. It looked really nice, the garden is really pretty (see next post), but the rooms show that it was built around 20-30 years ago.

I went to sleep early after dinner, because I was really tired (still fighting jet lag) just to wake up very early in the morning…

(to be continued)

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Worst case scenarios…?

On the 26th the night before my flight someone wrote in the facebook group that typhoon Bolaven is coming towards Korea and that it’ll hit it on Tuesday, 28th.  My flight was supposed to arrive at about the same time as the typhoon was expected to arrive, and this storm was mentioned as the strongest in many years.

So I was scared and all kinds of worst case scenarios were going through my head. Will we land in the midst of the typhoon? Or do we manage to land right before it? What if we have to land somewhere else, for example Beijing or Busan? The most terrifying was of course landing in bad weather, the other options seemed less life- and peace-threatening, but I still didn’t feel good about it.

At the airport I met up with the other Hungarians and the 4 of us boarded the plane to Prague. One of the girls, Eszter told us that Korean Air has contacted her before the flight, asking if she wants to fly to Prague with a later flight because the flight from Prague to Seoul will probably be delayed.

the plane to Prague was this small!

Now, delayed is not the right word. When we arrived, it was already cancelled, but when we asked around we learnt that it was actually just delayed 13 hours, meaning that it’d leave next morning. Now, what to do? We suddenly got 13 hours free time but no place to sleep at?

We first went to McDonalds to grab something to eat. McDonalds is great because they have free wifi and we just love free wifi. Everyone loves  free wifi. So we used the wifi and saw that other people are in the same situation, namely that their flight is delayed by 10+ hours. Someone who was also in Prague wrote that he went to the transfer office and got a voucher for the hotel right in front of the airport. So we went to search for this office, because anything seemed better than sleeping at the airport.

we could see the plane but couldn’t board it…

Honestly and without prejudice, I have to say that all the Czech staff we met knew nothing about what to do in this situation. It can’t be that nothing has ever been delayed overnight, right? We were kind of shocked, but kept on trying. One of the officers were kind enough to at least ask around/phone around about our situation, and after some waiting a stewardess came and wrote our vouchers. Yay!

The hotel was actually super cool and we got even dinner with the voucher. I thought I’d like to have an apartment like my room in the hotel, if that room had a small kitchen somewhere. I was nice to take a shower and sleep for a few hours before waking up at 5am to go and check in to the flight again. Luckily, the airport and the hotel were about a 2-minute walk away from each other, but my carry-on still felt very heavy. Next time I’m taking one with wheels…

the view of the airport from the hotel

We sat down for a coffee before boarding, but our faces… we were already tired. Then we finally got to board and we finally took off! The weather was really nice above Eastern Europe (until Belorus) and I was sitting next to the window :) The blanket they gave us was really nice, kind of thin but warm enough. Somehow pressure and air conditioning was much better than what I got used to on Ryanair… I didn’t get a (sinus) headache after it and it wasn’t freezing cold either.

somewhere above the Czech Republic

We got a lot to drink and a meal twice the flight. I asked for green tea rice porridge (녹차죽) first and then for bibimbap (비빔밥, rice mixed with vegetables/meat). Great food! The stewardesses were really pretty too, they all had a cute bow in their hair.

green tea rice porridge

No matter how good the service was, it was still a 10-hour flight and it was boring… The seats had a screen with entertainment options so I tried to entertain myself with some music and video clips, and when I got bored I just watched to plane on the map. At last we were getting ready to landing, and there I got worried again… It was a little windy and I was praying so much for a safe landing! (Of course we landed safely, huhh.)

Incheon Airport is really big though. We had to wait a lot until the plane got to the gate (every plane was delayed because of the typhoon) and then had to walk a lot to the passport check. My visa was stamped, fingerprints and photograph taken, and then we went to get our baggage. It took about another hour until they arrived… Then we gave the customs declaration paper to the guy in charge and went outside. First I thought no one was waiting for us, but then we found the taxi driver guy and the others who had to wait for us… sorry! Poor taxi driver was really tired, it was after 3am that we left the airport.

Driving through Incheon was quite surreal. It was really late and we were really tired… it took about another hour or more to get to Suwon. When we arrived there at the university, the dorm was locked because it is always locked between 1am and 5am. Luckily, there was a security guy (or receptionist?) around who opened the door for us and gave us keys. We kind of barged into the room and contemplated on sleeping then I decided it’s best to  update to my family about the situation and then tried to rest a little bit. About 2 hours because then it was time for breakfast.

they put us in B first. but B is for boys

When we got the keys we got meal tickets as well, so we just went downstairs to eat. It was good! Then we had a little meeting with Mr. Shin who gave us some information about what is going to happen in the next few days. After this we basically went to eat lunch then to the placement test at 4pm. I felt really tired and not in my best shape to do this test… it basically went the way I thought it would: I understood most of what was asked during the oral test but had a hard time answering (numbers >.<). The written test was basically the language exam we are supposed to take in the summer, so it was really hard… I tried guessing and thinking a lot but gave up after a few pages. Then I went to dinner and then to pack my things, because we had to move to another building next morning and then go to the orientation to Gyeongju…

(to be continued)

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준비! Preparations (2)

Packing and all kinds of other things are of course important to get done, but because this is such a big adventure and such a different culture I thought I should prepare a bit mentally, too. This post  is a little a collection of my inital thoughts, worries and fears, and I’m curious to see whether they come true or not (and if they do, in what form).

The first thing that comes to my mind is saying goodbye to people. No, first I have to tell them that I’m going to Korea and then make them realize that it’s a temporary goodbye. It is kind of unnerving to say it and wait for the reaction. I never know what to expect but somehow reactions are still the same (except a few exceptional people): why there, why so far, why why why. As I complained somewhere, I wouldn’t get any “why?” if I was going to England and not Korea and that’s fine. I just grew tired of explaining the obvious: Korea is a country like any other, people can study there like anywhere else, and besides I get a super awesome scholarship so hey why not go.

But back to goodbyes. I have already realized in Finland that the hardest thing in living abroad is not being together with my family. I didn’t really miss anything except them (and friends, of course, but you make friends abroad but can’t get another mother, right? right.) I’m glad we got to spend a few weeks together in England – I also got to know more about what their life’s going to be like there, and we had a lot of fun! Still, goodbyes. We visited our grandparents, too – grandma was very straightforward; she said I shouldn’t go. Helena said the same before, and I know what they feel, I’ve been on that side, too. Still, I can’t change my mind. Saying goodbye is probably harder for those being left behind than for those who leave. I know how you all feel, and I’m sorry. I love you all the same though, I hope you won’t forget that.

After saying all the goodbyes (still dreading the airport but I told myself it’s okay to cry there), there’s a quite long flight ahead of me. It’s not the flight from Budapest to Prague but from Prague to Incheon that worries me a little bit. It’s about 10 hours and I should really sleep the whole time not to get a terrible jet lag afterwards. (Actually I never had jet lag before, I’m wondering if it really affects people that much.) Recently flights made me kind of sick; because of the air conditioning + pressure I got sinus headaches, which are… not fun. I’ll be really careful this time, better not start my adventure with a terrible cold. I will also try to move around the plane a lot (sleeping and moving around a lot at the same time will be quite interesting…). It turned out that 3 of the 5 Hungarians with this scholarship are going with this plane, so we won’t be alone at least. There’ll also be people joining us in Prague, so fun! (I mean, sleep.)

Now what worries me next is when I arrive at the airport and take my first breath outside. Based on what Helena wrote on her blog the air is really humid, like really. Really. This is something I can’t really prepare myself for, but I guess the next few weeks I’ll be sweating a lot. Then the weather will start to cool hopefully…

(There should be a paragraph here about the actual weather, but I’ll write about that when I get there. You’ll see why.)

Now when it comes to actually being and living in Korea, language will definitely be an issue. Because we’ll use English in the first days, and I’m not conviced of the high level of English of either the organizers or the other scholarship students, or Korean people in general. I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but I know that acceptable English is not great English. I also know that most of the scholarship students had to write their motivation letter & curriculum vitae in English, so I guess their English is okay. But when I was in Finland, I realized that okay English is far from really good English. Or maybe my standards are high. (says an English Studies graduate. ugh.)

Of course sooner or later we’ll meet the Korean language as well… I’m kind of worried about that. I understand a lot but can speak very limited things. If we have to write a test to determine our levels, I might do quite well, but otherwise I feel like I need to start from the beginning. I think I always feel a little inadequate… maybe I expect too much from myself.

Talking about people, I’m really curious but also quite worried about the people I’ll have the language course with / I’ll live together with. Partly because we are all from different cultures, and partly because many of them might not have tried living abroad or away from their families. How will we get used to each other? How will we manage to come over cultural issues? I’m sure we’ll be fine but I can’t help to worry. I am for one experienced in these things, but I know many others are not. Maybe I’ll teach them? I mean help them?

And no matter how good friends we become with these students, I know there’ll come a time when I get lonely and start missing my family. There’s not much to do about that, but we promised each other to skype often and I’ll try my best to answer messages/e-mails on time. Loneliness can’t really be avoided, but I think it’ll be good to talk about it with the other students, because last year I thought I was the only one feeling lonely and it turned out that almost everyone felt the same way… gotta do something about it!

There is something about Korea and Korean people that I want to mention. The reason why it will be very different from Finland is because in Finland I could pass for a Finnish person. When walking on the street, I didn’t look any different from Finnish people, and if I did I still looked European and European is almost like family. I was a white person in a white country, so there were no problems. Also, Finland is getting better and better with multicultural issues, immigrants, etc. so racial discrimination is fought hard against. In comparison, this time I’ll forever be a white person in an Asian country. Expats have mentioned that it’s really hard to live in a country if you’re always reminded that you’rea foreigner and that you’ll never ever be able to not be one. I don’t mean I would want to assimilate so much, but it probably hurts to be reminded all the time that I can’t be part of it simply because I was born at a different place with a different body. And it especially hurts if you try your best to be humble and understand their culture. I’ll come back to this topic when I’ll have first-hand experience, for now it’s just what I’ve heard and worried about. No offence is intended towards Korean people, it’s just how it is. Asians or African/African-American people here have the same experience and we’re just as quilty(?) as any other country.

In general, the first month tends to be crazy. Awkward. Stressed. Worried. Confused. Lost. Tired. Overwhelmed. But also very exciting. Wonderful. Adventures. Discoveries. Little moments of success. Growing up. Learning learning learning. Joy.

We’ll see, we’ll see.

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준비! Preparations (1)

The day of departure is getting closer and closer (as you can see on the counter on the right), so of course there’s a lot I need to do to get ready. But what exactly am I doing these days? The first post will be about the actual things I got done: sorting, packing, etc. The second post will be a little different – how am I getting ready mentally?

So here’s the list of things I got (or I am getting) done before flying to Korea. It might be a good checklist if you ever get into a similar situation. ;-)

The first step is to sort out my things, simply because I can’t take everything with me (it’s kind of an understatement though. I can take barely anything with me.) There are 3 piles: one that comes with me to Korea, one that I need but won’t take with me this time, and one that I don’t need anymore. It’s a great feeling to get rid of stuff, so I encourage everyone to do this kind of sorting even if you’re not traveling anywhere. Less stuff means less trouble and less worries – and more space of course.

So I sorted out my clothes and my books/notes mostly (everything else either obviously comes or obviously stays here). This is the 21st century, so paper-based books should be replaced by pdf-s or ebooks or whatever. Also, books are heavy, so I advice everyone to cut the list of books really short. Takes those with you that you can’t buy online anywhere or those that have some value (e.g. birthday present, etc.) I even found my cookbook scanned on a website, so guess what I don’t have to take it with me! A little more space for other things. I also scanned many of my notes and official papers that I might need.

When it comes to other things, the most important is of course to pack those things that are hard to find or buy in Korea. The second most important is to look at everything and check if they are in a good condition or something has to be repaired, fixed, etc.
For example, if you have big feet, you might need to take a year’s worth of shoes with you. Or if you’re tall, you should have enough pants (Korean people are not too tall you know…) Or if you need big bras… you get it, right?
So check your shoes, clothes, coats, bags if they need some fixing!

Since it’s Korea, I felt that I should get a small phrasebook at least for the first few days when we have no classes yet. Luckily I found a cheap one, but it seems a little culturally inaccurate at times. Oh well, at least I have a phrasebook.

Of course I need a visa, too! (for the longer stay, until 90 days you don’t need one) But since it’s KGSP (the scholarship), the whole thing was really easy and is payed for by NIIED. Right after my graduation ceremony (finally graduated!) we went to the embassy and then the visa was done in a week. I got a nice one-page sticker with a one-year visa (for the language study) and almost got stuck at the embassy because I had no idea how to open the gates (they wouldn’t open from the inside). The Korean guy who did my visa application came to my rescue but I felt like an idiot (I mean who gets confused and stuck at an embassy??)

Before the visa application I had to have a medical examination done as well. I think I spent more time in health centers and hospitals this year than ever before. I also had my wisdom teeth removed in August, which was probably my worst experience this year (look what I’m saying!) but it’s over now and I’m actually happy I had it done now. I could have had them removed in January, but I was a coward and that fact left me with no other time than August (school until end of June and July in England). I’m glad I did it in Hungary (for several reasons, but I advice you get your treatment done where you actually understand what’s going on). I also had to renew my hepatitis B vaccination (bless the doctor at the hamophilia center for doing a test and warning me about it). As much time I spent on my health this year, I actually have to cancel my health care here in Hungary, otherwise they would make me pay every month when I’m actually not here…

The last thing I want to mention is collecting addresses (both postal and e-mail addresses). If you want to message me, do it at juliekatona at gmail dot com (if I don’t answer by Monday morning, message me again) and if you want me to send you a post card (which I can’t promise but maybe I will?), just leave your address in a private message (e-mail, dm or any other kind of message).

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The road here

Who would have thought I’ll have such a story to tell! At the beginning of 2011 I had no idea that just in 1-2 years things will change so much. So I thought it would be interesting to do a quick recap of all the things that happened to me in just this one year (July 2011 – July 2012), because it shows the road that led me here and shows the direction of my future.

Where did it all start? Where am I going? What has happened along the way? – is what this post is about.

It was the beginning of 2011 and I was thinking about studying abroad. I had no idea where or what, but I wanted to give it a try. Or did I just want to leave? Either way, I was getting desperate. I applied for the Erasmus scholarship (European university exchange scholarship) in 2010, but to my surprise I didn’t get it. I was confused and impatient, but I had to wait one more year to apply again. I couldn’t consider any other scholarship until I graduated, and graduation seemed to never come…

When it turned 2011 I decided to try to get the Erasmus scholarship again. This time I chose to go to Finland, because most of my courses left to be done were Finnish courses. My Finnish teacher also recommended a summer university scholarship, and to my surprise I got both scholarships.

In July 2011 I left for Vaasa, Finland for the summer university. This was a first in many ways: my first time spending so much time abroad and away from my family, first time living abroad, first time studying and living with international students, first time being so independent… It was a great preparation for my exchange studies, mostly because I learnt some ways of Finnish life and spoken Finnish(!) before actually moving there for a semester.

Then came the end of August and I went to Turku, Finland for my exchange studies. This was a different experience from the summer university, because it lasted months instead of weeks. Summer university taught me independence, but these months taught me patience, trust, care, courage and so on. There were really hard times and really fun times, friendship and loneliness, success and struggling as well. It was an eye-opener, because I have met many kinds of people I have never met before. It was also a time for learning about God, who has led me to a great church and great people in Finland. And to be honest, I really liked Finland in many ways.

To come back after these great experiences was good at first, because I really wanted to see my family. I didn’t really miss anything when I was away except my family. And after a few weeks of being back to Hungary, I realized that no matter what I don’t want to live here.

I was impatient about when I can finally leave. I was frustrated that I had to be here, finish whatever was left of my degree. I was also frustrated that I had to move back home, because independence just tasted too good. I felt it was time for me to start my own life but everything said “just not yet.” I didn’t know at that time that it was a time for me to spend time with my family, because I would not be able to see them for a long time. When I slowly understood this, I treasured it a lot. We spent a lot of time with mom talking about the future. It was an anxious time as neither of us knew what the future might bring, but we knew some kind of change was up.

So another round of looking for a scholarship has started. The countries I was looking at were Finland and Britain, and then Japan, Korea, China. I had my mind on studying advertising. As time passed, I felt that even if there’s a great scholarship in Britain or Finland, I would still not be satisfied living there. My heart was telling me Asia; I would have felt really restless in Europe.

I came up with Korea because the government scholarship they offered was the best I could find. I had my doubts about the university, the major, the whole scholarship, and if I really want this, but I sent my application and decided that if I get accepted then I’ll do it. My family was already looking towards England, so even if I didn’t get it I would have had another option. I prayed a lot that it would be God’s will what happens and not mine, because I simply couldn’t decide if my plans are good or not. I wanted to be with my family, but I didn’t really feel like going to Britain; on the other hand, going to Korea for years seemed to be too long, too far away and just too much.

When I got accepted I still had doubts but I had set my mind on it so there was no way back. Slowly it started to sink in. It’s not easy to leave everything behind but this is what I wanted and decided on. I am also sure that this is where God wants me to be. Even if it’s hard, even if it hurts sometimes, even if I worry, He’ll take care of us and wants me to trust Him while going to Korea. The journey now is set towards Korea.

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Kedves mindenki

–> Rather read it in English? Click here! <–

néhányan talán már tudtok róla, néhányan talán még nem.

Szeptembertől Dél-Koreában fogok tanulni:
az első év a koreai nyelv tanulásával fog telni a Sungkyunkwan Egyetem nyelvi intézetében (Suwon),
a második és harmadik évben a mesterszakot fogom csinálni (Újságírás és kommunikáció) a Chosun Egyetemen (Gwangju).
Mindezt a koreai állami ösztöndíjprogramon keresztül (Korean government scholarship program, KGSP), a koreai állam támogatásával tudom végigcsinálni.
Ez azt jelenti, hogy a következő 3 évet Koreában fogom tölteni, tanulással… Mintha eddig nem tanultam volna eleget! :P

Ezen a blogon keresztül próbálok majd titeket naprakésszé tenni, hogy éppen mi a helyet. Így fog működni a dolog:
ez lesz a főblog egy tumblr mellékbloggal.

Főblog (wordpress)

  • hosszabb, rendszeresebb bejegyzések
  • kultúráról, kajákról, helyekről ahol jártam, stb.
  • nyelvtanulásos bejegyzések
  • heti vagy havi összefoglalók arról, hogy mi is történik/történt (wordpress-en és tumblr-n egyaránt)

+ hozzászólási lehetőség ;-)
+ kérdésekre válaszolás és kérések fogadása (milyen bejegyzésekre lennétek kíváncsiak, stb.)

Mellékblog (tumblr)

  • rövidebb, rendszertelenebb bejegyzések
  • zene
  • képek
  • bármi Koreához és az ott töltött időmhöz kapcsolódó

–> reblogolási lehetőség ;-)

Viszont szeretném felhívni a figyelmet arra, hogy a blog legnagyobb része angolul lesz, de amennyiben kéritek, más nyelveken is posztolhatom ugyanazt (magyarul, finnül, japánul). Azért csinálom így, hogy minél több emberhez eljusson a blogom. Tudom, hogy néhány embernek nehezére esik angolul olvasnia, ezért ha van rá igény, magyarul is posztolok, de csak ha külön kéritek. Nem könnyű 2-3 nyelv között váltogatni, ezért próbálok a koreai-angol kombinációnál megmaradni (és jelen pillanatban a magyar nem világnyelv). Előbb-utóbb koreai bejegyzések is lehetnek.

Mivel nem vagyok túl jó blogoló, ezért reménykedem, hogy van sok kérdésetek/kérésetek azzal kapcsolatban, miről írjak. Mindig van lehetőség kérdezni/kérni akár a hozzászólásokban, akár a Kérdések/kérések részben (fent). Itt van például néhány téma amiről szeretnék majd írni, lehet szavazni vagy hozzáadni, hogy mikről írjak előbb (és hogy szeretnétek-e magyarul is olvasni róla).

  • hogyan készülök az útra / ott élésre
  • mit várok már legjobban Koreával kapcsolatban
  • min aggódok a legtöbbet
  • miért éppen Korea/Ázsia
  • miért megyek el Magyarországról
  • hogyan jelentkezz erre az ösztöndíjra
  • mit pakolj
  • repülési kisokos
  • culture shock
  • stb.

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Dear all

–> Inkább magyarul olvasnád? Kattints ide! <–

some of you might already know, some of you might not.

Starting from this September I’ll be studying in South Korea:
the first year will be Korean language study at the language institute of Sunkyunkwan University (Suwon),
the second and third year will be a master’s degree in Journalism Communications at Chosun University (Gwangju).
This is all sponsored by the Korean government through the Korean government scholarship program (KGSP).
What it means is that I’ll spend the next 3 years in Korea studying as hard as possible :P (As if I hadn’t been studying enough…!)

I’ll try to keep you all updated through this blog. Now this is how it works:
this will be the main blog with a tumblr side blog.

Main blog (wordpress)

  • longer, more regular posts
  • posts about culture, food, places I visited, etc.
  • language learning posts
  • weekly or monthly summaries of what has been going on (including the things posted on tumblr, too)

+ opportunity to comment
+ answering questions and accepting requests for posts

Side blog (tumblr)

  • short, irregular posts
  • short updates
  • music
  • pictures
  • anything related to Korea and my time there

-> opportunity to reblog

Most of this blog will be in English, but if requested I can transform the posts into other languages (Hungarian, Finnish, Japanese). The reason for this is that I want this blog to be available to as many people as possible. Sooner or later some Korean posts might pop up, too.

Since I’m not a very good blogger, I’m hoping that you have many questions/requests about what I should be writing about. You can always ask/request things in the comments section, or in the Questions/requests section (on top). Here are a few topics that I’m planning to write about, you can vote or add to them what I should be writing about first.

  • how I’m getting ready for the trip / for living there
  • what I’m looking forward to the most when living in Korea
  • what I’m most worried about
  • why Korea / Asia
  • why leaving Hungary
  • how to apply for this scholarship
  • what to pack
  • flight know-how
  • culture shock
  • etc.