This is a report that I wrote for my final project in Korean class. It was written in Korean, but for my column I have translated it into English. I hope you enjoy it.
In Korea, I have learned many things, but two things that I learned while living here have been the most important to me. I have learned about Korea, and I have learned about myself.
Last year, when I was in the United States, I had set one major goal for my year abroad. I wanted to learn a lot of a foreign language, and to learn the language to the extent that I could be a fluent speaker. While I have been in Korea, although I have been learning a lot of the language, I am unfortunately still not at the point where I am fluent. At this point, I have some skill in reading, writing, and understanding Korean, but I still find speaking to be very difficult.
When I started my exchange year, I only knew a small amount of Korean, so I wasn't able to understand the classes at the school. So, instead, during class I spent the time studying Korean on my own, and now I am able to understand much more.
With all of the Korean studying that I did, I also learned a lot about self-discipline. For example, I have been working to make goals and a schedule to stay organized and work as efficiently and effectively as I can. I am sure that these skills will also be helpful when I go to college.
While I have been in Korea, I have also been learning many things about Korean history. This history is something that I did not learn in my school in the United States, but it is very interesting and important to the world. One example is how it has helped me to understand the conflict between North and South Korea much better through learning about the background of the situation and understanding its roots. While in Korea, I have been fortunate to not only learn about the history but also to have the opportunity to see many of the important places.
Learning about Korean culture has also been very important for me. One way that I have been able to learn about the traditional culture is through the Korean culture classes that my school offers. In Samulnori class, I have learned how to play an hourglass-shaped drum; in calligraphy class, I have learned about the traditional writing style; in cooking class, I have learned about cooking Korean food; and in Hanbok class, I have learned about the traditional clothing of Korea. Also, through living in Korea, I have also learned about some of the family differences here.
But Korea also has an important modern culture, and I have been able to learn about this culture, too. Korean movies and television have a very unique style to them, which is something that I have really enjoyed. Because of this, I have watched many of these programs. I have also found Korean music to have its own unique sound that I have enjoyed, too. Along with the movies, television, and music, I have also really enjoyed Korean books and comics. But, although I enjoy Korea a lot, I know that it certainly isn't perfect. One of the major problems in Korea is the intense school system that is very stressful to students here.
With all of these things in mind, I have been able to learn many things in Korea, and I will be able to bring this knowledge back to my life in the United States. At my university, I am planing to study English and German, and I am sure that the experience I have been having here with Korean will be very helpful. Also, because of this experience in Korea, I am hoping to go abroad again, possibly to come back to Korea.
Editor's note: P.J.?Sproule is a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Houghton Rotary Club living near Seocheon, South Korea, for a year.