David, an exchange student from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, wasn't attracted to European history. He thought it was a succession of wars between similar countries. For this reason, he turned to Asian studies. "The movies starring Jackie Chen and Jet Lee were some of my favorite. Also I was interested in the Samurai of Japan, and enjoyed watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," said David.
How he started to learn Korean language and culture is a quite a long and romantic story. He had a girlfriend in Britain who was from Korea. He bought a Korean phrase book and studied it for quite a while to surprise her. However, studying Korean alone with only a simple phrase book was very difficult. He was only able to memorize some Korean phrases, which were useful to couples such as "I love you." Almost every student in SOAS is given an opportunity to visit the country they are interested in. David studied Korean at SOAS for a year. Thanks to his learning Korean during his freshman year, his fluent Korean always surprises Koreans.
Asked about where he lives, he replied that he is living in a "one-room"(studio) apartment. "One-room apartment is much more comfortable than the dorm. I found it quite inconvenient to share a room with another person. Also, it is located high up on the campus. In my one- room apartment, I can get together with my friends any time I want. In addition, I can bump into many Koreans." David gave some advice to foreign students who come to Korea. First, try to make many Korean friends. He said that making a penpal through Internet chatting before he came to Korea helped him a lot. Second, it is important to spend time hanging out with friends and playing. "Don't be a nerd!" When foreign students come to Korea for the first time, they should not bore themselves by spending their entire time studying. Hang out with friends and experience Korean culture. Especially, he liked makgeolli and used to go to "makgeolli jib"(makgeolli house) to have some drinks with his friends. David is now almost a Korean-Briton. Not only does he speak fluent Korean, using his cell phone he texts in Korean just as any Korean would. He plans to return to Britain this August after sightseeing in China and Japan. "After my graduation, I would like to come back to Korea and live here," said David. "I hang out with Korean friends and place myself in the middle of Koreans. Among them, I was able to find Korea's hidden fascinations. I am sure there are more to come, and I can't wait to find out."
- By The Granite Tower of Korea Univ. Reporter Chang Hae-yoon