Monthly Archives: February 2013

Must focus & new language partner

This week is going to be a really tough one. So many things to do, some things beyond my control. Without going into more detail, it probably sounds a bit cryptic, I know.

One thing I can tell, though, is that I have been matched with one more Korean language partner 😀 we met today to introduce ourselves, went for a walk in the park behind campus and just talked a little. Beautiful weather 🙂

She’s going on a trip and I have my exam next week so we will start meeting in two weeks. We’re going to practice speaking! My greatest weakness. She would like to speak more English to feel more comfortable speaking as well so we both have an incentive to do something focusing a lot on actually getting the words out there.
I feel fairly confident when writing – not that I’m anywhere near perfect – but when speaking I sometimes feel like I lost my script somewhere and forgot to read up on my lines before losing it. Hopefully I will be more confident in a few weeks time 🙂

As a starting point we were thinking of using the TOPIK 쓰기 questions as topics. Rather than writing essays simply presenting the answers to eachother and discuss from there 🙂

Happy 정월대보름

Today I received an e-mail from Korea 🙂 I always love receiving mails! And I learned something new about Korea that I want to share with all of you.

Today is the 15th day in the lunar calendar, also known as 정월대보름. While not as important a holiday as 설날, there are some traditions associated with this day.

Make a wish
Tonight the moon is full and because it is 정월대보름, you can make a wish while looking at the full moon. I think that’s a lovely tradition – and I already know what my wish will be 😉

Sell your heat
Back in the days when Korea relied mostly on farming, many farmers would set the farm on fire on this day to fight harmful insects and to drive away evil. Nowadays that would be rather unpractical and society has changed. What people still do is to “sell their heat”. As summers in Korea are quite hot, it is nice to be able to keep cool. According to the tradition, if you ask friends or family to take your heat, you can have a nicely tempered summer.
I might be careful with that one… Danish summers aren’t known for their spendour so I would rather keep whatever heat I might get than give it away! 😀

As for the food, on this day people eat rice mixed with a lot of different grains and they eat nuts. Today isn’t my cooking day so I cannot really influence the dinner at this stage, but I can always have some nuts a bit later 🙂

So happy 정월대보름 everyone. I hope your wishes come true 🙂

Time flies

How did it happen?! The count down to the TOPIK says “1 month” now. Well, it’s not entirely true since it’s going to be on the 20th of April, but I think I stopped breathing for a couple of seconds when I saw that the count down had changed again.

I have great Korean study plans for March. My law exam is on the 7th and then I don’t have any classes until April because the rest of my class is doing an economics course that I have already completed. That leaves an aweful lot of time for Korean studies 🙂 There is still hope for my TOPIK score then 🙂

I’ve signed up to be matched with one more language partner through my university. Of course I will continue to meet my current partner, but he has his own courses to follow so even if I have more time during March, I cannot expect him to push everything aside to nitpick on my grammar. I still haven’t heard from uni, but I really hope someone signed up 🙂 fingers crossed!

TOPIK prep status 11

Status for 16-22 February 2013

Language exchange
In our first meeting this week we talked about bikes and differences in biking culture. What a topic for a Dane! Basically everyone in Denmark bikes; mail is delivered by bike, we have national “we bike to work” challenges, and children can even take voluntary biking tests, examined by the police, just like adults are examined for their driver’s license for cars.

People working in ministries as well as financially challenged students bike to work/university. One place my brother used to work, they even had a “company bike” that people could borrow if they had a meeting somewhere in town. There was no company car for the lazy, they could take the bus…

You can tell the moment spring arrives just by the look on the male students’ faces and the way they greet eachother that fateful morning: “The girls!” “They are wearing dresses! and biking!” “I know!!!”. It never fails haha 😀

In Korea they don’t bike as much as we do… I was very surprised to find out that in Korea biking is something you do as a leasure activity. It’s not an integrated part of life and not just another mode of transportation.
There was an “experiment” where biking lanes were introduced in Seoul a few years ago, but unfortunately some taxi drivers quickly adopted them as fast-tracks for when they were in a hurry so most of the biking lanes have been abandoned because they were unsafe. Biking along the river in the weekend is a popular passtime for many couples, though. Imagine my language parter’s surprise to see Danish parents zooming through traffic with a baby on the back of the bike. However, I would probably also think twice about the wisdom of strapping a child into a baby seat on the back of a bike if Danish biking lanes were regularly invaded by speeding cars.

The second topic was internet usage and addiction. Another interesting topic and one which is probably more global than biking.

I spent quite a bit of time preparing for these meetings 🙂

Nothing this week. Not good… Shame on me. But at least I have been working a lot on the language exchange.

I’m slowly entering exam mode for my next exam so that is taking up a bit of my energy, but I also try to make time for Korean. This week, I think I did pretty well 😀

Another little generalisation about 이/가

As always, when I come across the odd little gramamar points, I try to note them down to better remember them. Here is another one about the subject marking particle:

When writing a sentence, which in English would contain the word when, it is often more natural to use the subject marking particle 이/가 than using the topic marking particle 은/는.

이/가 is therefore often seen with the pattern -(으)ㄹ 때


제 오빠가 덴마크에서 일했을 때, 사무실은 회사 자전거를 가지고 있었어요 ~ when my brother worked in Denmark, his office had a company bike.

Word of the day: 가끔 ~ sometimes

가끔 ~ sometimes, at times, now and then, occasionally

This is a word I happen to need quite often, but somehow I only heard 가끔 this past week.
It’s a good little word that is a lot more specific than for instance 언젠가 which doesn’t have quite the same connotations of something happening several times, but not all the time.

Hanja: 물건 품 ~ item, piece

Hanja -> meaning -> pronunciation

品 -> 물건 -> 품

Okay, I really liked the “piglet” character, but this has got to be one of the easiest Chinese characters to date.

It can be used to mark that something is a physical object of some sort.

For instance:
복제품 consists of two separate words:
복제 ~ reproduction, duplicate, replica
품 ~ an article, a piece, an item

=> 복제품 ~ an item which is a replica (not an original). For instance as seen in museums.

TOPIK prep status 10

Status for 9 – 15 February 2013

Sogang Korean
Nothing. And not a pang of guilt since that was planned.

I have been revising a bit in my level 3 book so I completed a couple of lessons.
I also wrote a couple of sentences at focusing on the “answer the question” assignments rather than the regular lessons.

Language exchange
This week I have met twice with my language partner, and I have tried to write more as preparation and make better use of vocabulary. As always, the next hurdle is to actually remember it all. I’m really looking forward to next week’s topic: bicycles. Here in Denmark practically everyone has a bike and you can even see bankers bike to work wearing their suits so I should be able to think of many things to talk about 🙂

It has really been a treat to just take it easy on the Korean front this week. I haven’t felt pressured by my Korean studies, I have been really efficient in my regular uni readings, and still I feel like I have progressed in my Korean.

Word of the day: 멘붕 ~ mental collapse

멘붕 ~ mental breakdown (literally “mental collapse”)

This is another colloquial word that is not in the dictionary and comes from two words:

멘탈 ~ mental
붕괴 ~ collapse

Examples of when it is used:
Most of you have probably seen the desperate kind of messages people will post on facebook before exams. They fall into the category 멘붕.

In a SNSD song, one of the girls sings about having a 멘붕 because her boyfriend wants to see her without make-up (…well… Anyway).

Word of the day: 돌싱 ~ return-single

돌싱 ~ “return-single” (aka divorcee)

This I think is a bit of a funny word and it is one that you cannot find in a regular dictionary. It is a colloquial word that comes from the combination of:

돌아오다 ~ to return/ to come back
싱글 ~ single (English loanword)

In full it is: 돌아온 싱글, which is shorted down to 돌싱. So basically it is someone who returns to “singlehood”.

In Korea, getting divorced is still frowned upon in many families, although it is becoming more normal. Compared to “divorcee”, “돌싱” has some lighter connotations and smells less like 실패 (failure). If watching a match-making show on Korean TV, you might therefore have seen an episode dedicated to the 돌싱 rather than divorcees.