Rays of Splendour

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Learning a new language – Korean!

Recently, I decided to sign up for Korean Language classes again. I’d taken some basic levels in Korean a few years back on a whim because I was curious as to why people are learning it. However, I stopped learning after two levels of Korean classes as I felt it would be pointless to devote myself to learning a language I would never use.

But oh, I spoke too soon because it turned out that the recent motivation which made me pick up Korean again stemmed from a need to use it in the next few months to come.

So the month of August saw me signing myself up for Korean classes at Daehan Korean Language Centre with trepidation. ‘Trepidation’ came into the picture because of two reasons.

1) Everyone I see (aka schoolmates/classmates) are people who are wayyyyyyy younger than myself. They are either 18/19 years of age or in their twenties. I won’t be able to blend in seamlessly like I did the previous time I learned this language.

2) It is the high period at work right now with many deadlines to meet one after the other and workload is quite massive this time of the year. This means that it may potentially (who am I kidding? It’s no longer a potential but a reality at the time I’m blogging this!) be challenging for me to set aside time for revision.

Nevertheless, I still needed to sign up for this class.

And perhaps because this is my second attempt at learning this language and when I’m much older, I found that I started noticing things like the following:

Age gap between you and your teacher

My Korean teacher is not much older than me. So every time I’m unable to submit my homework or answer her questions, I would feel very, very bad. She doesn’t scold me for the non-submissions which makes me feel even worse. I really do not like putting another adult in that position however with work at an all-time high (the kind where you continue with work even till late into the night after getting back from Korean classes), it really leaves very little time to read through the textbook and do the homework.

Pace of picking up the language

Frankly speaking after my jaunt with learning Chinese (back in pre-university and university days) as well as Japanese (a few years back when I planned to pursue postgrad studies in Japan), I find that Korean is much simpler to pick up than I had expected. So even though the last time I learned Korean was a while back and I’d forgotten most grammatical rules and vocabulary, I was still able to catch up.

I guess this has to do with the fact that it has only one writing system – the hangeul – and thus far, it seems like the way the verbs conjugate are much less complex to Japanese.

That said, one of the biggest issue I’m grappling with is the use of honorific and plain forms of the sentences. I foresee myself making several faux pas when communicating with people due to my current inability to switch between honorific and plain form in conversation and writing.

Textbooks and workbooks used in class

The school uses the Active Korean textbooks and workbooks, used by Seoul National University, for lessons.

Source: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ACTIVE-KOREAN-Learn-KOREAN-Text-book-with-AUDIO-CD-VOL-1-4-LANGUAGE-study-1007-/271075668732

From past experiences in learning foreign languages, I’ve seen and used my share of language textbooks. There were some good ones and some which I feel are not helpful to the learner.

However, I feel that this particular learning resource is a great one. Grammatical rules and vocabulary are introduced progressively and with clarity. The examples used are also highly relevant and those that one will definitely use during conversations.

There were some lessons that I missed and did not even have time to attend any makeup for. Yet, I was able to quickly catch up just from reading the explanations in the book.

Your classmates and you

Being the eldest student in class, I can sense that my classmates do get a bit uncomfortable whenever they are paired up with me for conversation practices. There could be other reasons too for this discomfort but regardless, I do not blame them for feeling this way especially these people are still in their teens and probably have not had a much older classmate before.

I find that most times, I will react by ignoring their discomfort and trudge along with the conversation drills amid awkward silences that fill the gaps whenever we are done with a section of the passage. Once the practice is done, the classmate will turn back to their friend (most of the teenagers come together with their friends to class) and pretend that I never existed.

Nevertheless, I’m quite okay with that since my purpose in coming to class is truly to learn the language and not to socialise.

So yep, despite all these, I’m still sticking to learning this language. It has been quite fun thus far anyway. 🙂

However, would I have the confidence to communicate in this language when it comes to the crunch?

Honestly, I don’t really know. For now.

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It started with 2 Euros

Ever since a trip I made to Italy about two years back, I found myself developing a thing for bracelets/bangles.

During that trip, I bought my first bracelet in Venice. It cost only 2 Euros and frankly speaking, I don’t even know why I bought it.

That 2 Euros bracelet somehow sealed the deal. For when I returned from Italy and after wearing that bracelet out for the first time, I saw how a simple accessory can transform the look of an outfit from plain (my default look) to one that looks more presentable. Since then, my collection of bracelets/bangles have slowly increased.

Then recently, I find myself having a thing for these statement pieces. The fact that it adds a twinge of difference from the normal bracelets/bangles aside, the words on these statement pieces serve as a reminder for me (especially the one on “Be Present”!) on some of the values I hold dear as the daily life unfurl.

Not for the first time, I’m thinking this: At the end of the day once we’ve stripped away the layers of complexities (for example, your definition of success, how human relationships should pan out, the notion of Power, etc) that we’ve somehow created for ourselves when it comes to Life, Life essentially has some core tenets attached to it. Tenets that, if we remember, will anchor us firmly even through the toughest of times.

For me at the present stage in my life, these core tenets to Life are gratitude, being present in Life and to recognize that Allah is central to every aspect of Life.

In the latter, I find that during those quiet times when I ruminate about the blessings He has given me – both good and bad – I realize that I am nothing and have not created anything. Everything happened and was created because He allows it to. Even the ibadah. It’s humbling, truly, to realize that the prayer you made was only possible because He had made you remember that it’s time to pray, willed it in your heart that you want to pray, and also to create the conditions that enabled the prayer to be completed. MasyaAllah.

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