Category Archives: Learn Korean

73 Words

That’s how many new Korean words I learned this week.  That’s right, I got my exam results back from the TOPIK test and I got a 3 out of 4.  That means I’m a certified intermediate speaker, but it isn’t the score I was hoping for.  I know I’m not at that level yet though so I’m resuming my studying again.  One of the Korean teachers at school has agreed to meet with me and help me with writing and speaking (the two parts I can’t do on my own) and so here I am studying again!

I’ve bought a couple of essay writing books (called 논술 books) where I read a short story or article and then answer some questions and give my opinions.  I was studying from a 1st grade book before which already had a challenging number of unfamiliar words but I decided to really bump it up and am studying 5th grade readings now.  The kind of vocabulary is a lot more advanced but I think it’s better to start there and then just fill in the gaps of my knowledge as I go.

I also decided that I need to set some goals for myself which will help me work toward something and hopefully keep me motivated.  Here are my goals for 2012:

Korean studying goals:

  • Get 4 points on the TOPIK exam (take the test in summer or fall)
  • Learn 10 new words every day
  • Finish my 3 눈술 books
  • Finish 3 Korean novels (just started Paradise by Bernard Werber)
  • Improve my Korean to the point that I can read Korean job websites
Other goals:
  • Improve my BMR by adding muscle mass (lifting weights at home, daily walks)
  • Draw at least 3 times a week
  • Take up a new hobby


This will just be a quick summary as it’s been a while since I’ve really updated.

I completed my TOPIK exam two weeks ago and it went better than expected.  I probably won’t get the top score but I will probably pass.  It seems like the tests are hit or miss- they either have questions on topics I’ve studied or they have questions on topics that I haven’t studied.  I got lucky with this one though the time limit is pretty strict so I ran out of time on the reading portion of the test.  I believe the scores will be available sometime in December.  I can update more on the subject at that time.

Tristan’s mom is here visiting!  It’s been two weeks so far and it’s been a blast.  Our time together is pretty low key although she is going out and adventuring on her own while we are busy at work.  Tonight she was able to join us for the company dinner, and we are also going hiking tomorrow at Dobongsan with some of the administrators from our school.  I’m really excited!

We have enjoyed exposing Tristan’s mom to Game of Thrones as well.  We watched an episode every night and she’s cursing the fact that the second season isn’t made yet.  Tristan and I are reading the book series on the Kindle religiously every free moment we have.

School is going well, I love my kids more and more and I enjoy my job more and more.  Most of my time outside of work is spent coming up with some curriculum that I think will be effective or exciting for the kids, and I actually enjoy thinking about these things.  I just wish I had more time at work to actually follow through or implement these things.  Maybe there’s next year?  We are definitely thinking more seriously about next year.

Fall came quickly and the weather has turned brisk and beautiful.  This season fills me with so many good feelings and cheers me up so much.  Although none of the holidays associated with it are celebrated here, I am sure Tristan and I will find a way to keep a piece of those traditions alive in our home.

Last but not least, my sister and her husband finally made the move to Okinawa!  I have yet to even catch them on Skype, but I hope this means many visits are in our future, and we should be booking our tickets for Christmas vacation soon.

I hope all is well and all is warm! Take care until next time.

Practice Test

I took a practice test today, one from a few years ago that I could download off of the TOPIK site. I’ve taken practice tests before that left me feeling hopeful, but this left me feeling like I’ve actually regressed, like someone tricked me into thinking I’ve been learning Korean all this time but actually it was just a randomized jumble of words. It was HARD. I barely scraped over 50% on the grammar and writing sections (but I need an average of over 70% on all of the sections to pass; no way!!!). In the past, on other practice exams, I got around 70% for everything.

I feel like I’ve learned so much the last few months. I can read novels now! I can understand movies! I can conduct friendships in Korean! I’ve studied my ass off and yet it doesn’t actually show on the test. It’s not all been in vain, of course, but it will be pretty disappointing to have to wait around for the next testing period if I fail this one.

Anyway, I’m feeling really discouraged tonight.

Comic Book Lounge (만화방)

In an effort to mix up my studying routine I decided to check out a manhwa-bang (which translates into Comic Lounge) that’s relatively nearby.  From what I knew before it is a large room full of every comic book imaginable (well, Japanese and Korean-style comics) as well as novels and current issues of magazines lining the walls.  There are couches and you can purchase snacks, and you pay by the hour to read whatever you want.

It was all of that but not exactly what I was expecting.  I was hoping it would be somewhat dead so I could spread out and enjoy the place like a library, but once I got there I felt pressure to actually read comics instead of my own stuff as the seats were packed.  The place was pretty run down (the chairs were all falling apart, some with springs coming out) and all of the books were in pretty bad condition.  All of this I can live with, but it turns out you can smoke in there.

And everyone was smoking.  The place was packed with mostly business men looking men in suits over the age of 40 chain smoking cigarettes and reading random comic books.  Occasionally a couple of younger guys would come in and browse, though it seemed like they were just killing time until their friends showed up.  I toughed it out for an hour so as not to waste my money but I thought I would pass out from all of the secondhand smoke.  Check that off the list of options for new places to study; it seemed like a great idea in theory but it’s just not going to work out.

The place was about a 30 minute walk from home so while I was walking home I used my amazing smartphone to look up other manwha-bangs in the area.  Turns out there is one not five minutes from my house.  It appeared to be in better condition and was completely abandoned, but when I asked the owner if smoking was allowed he said it was.  I suppose I could stop by and see if nobody is there if I feel the urge to read comics (aka study), but it’s pretty disappointing.

Another random thing about these places– you can pay by the hour, but they also offer special overnight packages.  The one by our house lets you stay after 11pm until 7am and includes a coffee for only 8000 Won (about $7.50).  That beats staying at hotel, especially in this pricey part of town.  I guess some people do that but I still recommend staying at the sauna which is roughly the same price and includes a nice relaxing steam and shower.

Registration for the TOPIK

I just registered for the TOPIK exam tonight, all by myself!  I thought I’d need a friend to help but it all worked out.

Something stupid about Safari– the website said I could only upload a .jpg file, but when I attempted to it would only accept ones with a .jpeg extension.  Once I selected the image (after changing the extension to .jpeg), the website then said “we can only accept images with a .jpg extension.”  I was getting so pissed!  Luckily I switched over to Firefox and it all worked fine.  What the hell Safari?  Or should I blame wacky Korean websites that only work on PC’s in Internet Explorer?

Anyway.  ‘Tis done!