Guest post by Rosalind Ong, founder of Fun Language Learning:
I started learning Korean on my own back in my university days because I thought it would be cool to watch Korean dramas without subtitles.
School work soon caught up with me and learning Korean took a back seat until in 2009 when I decided to enrol myself in language classes.
Even after I started working, I took a 3-week break from work to go for an immersion programme at Kyunghee University.
There, I learnt much more than I did when I was taking Korean classes in Singapore. However, three weeks zoomed by in a flash, and very soon, it was time for me to head home.
Nevertheless, this trip paved the way for my longer adventure in 2011.
After working in the corporate world for a few years, I started to get disillusioned about work and life. Despite performing well at work, I was uncertain about my future.
There were two things, however, that I was sure — I had developed a passion for languages and I needed to seek meaning in the work I do.
That was when I began taking personal development courses. I realised that I needed some time to realign myself and naturally, I thought of leaving my comfort zone again.
In 2011, I quit my job and went to Seoul to study at the Language Learning Institute in Yonsei University.
As I unpacked my bag at a Goshiwon (고시원 考试院)—a dormitory for Korean students from other provinces of Korea —I felt waves of excitement bubbling inside me.
I knew I was going to experience many firsts and come out different. For one, the size of my room was no larger than that of a prison cell.
This was a frugal choice that I made for my accommodation so I had nothing to complain about. In fact, I found it a cosy place with just enough space for one person to stay.
I also cooked my meals in this tiny room. I had to cook because Korean eateries usually serve meals for at least two persons. Until I settled down at Yonsei University, I didn’t have a meal buddy.
Cooking regularly was a first for me. Back home, I was blessed with Mum’s food most of the time. Nevertheless, I realised I could adapt well.
Back to school
Classes at Yonsei University were intensive. Every day from 9 am to 1 pm, we would have grammar, vocabulary and reading classes. There were also projects, written tests, listening and oral exams at the end of the term.
Despite the heavy work load, I was enjoying every moment and reliving school life. Almost every other weekend, I’d be backpacking with fellow Singaporeans to various cities in Korea.
We travelled by bus to Suwon, Incheon, Yangpyeong, Nami Island, Jeonju (famous for bibimbap, a Korean mixed rice dish), Pohang, Gyeongju, Gwangju and Daegu.
These were impromptu trips; we set off without booking any accommodation.
I travelled so much that at the end of 6 months, I was a confident tour guide to my family when they visited me.
My mum saw how I lived independently in a foreign country and spoke Korean fluently to the locals. She commented that for the first time, she saw a passion rekindle in me — the passion for learning.
Time to say goodbye
After being away from home for half a year, I discovered a newfound appreciation for Singapore. I was very proud to introduce myself as a Singaporean when I was in South Korea.
Being bilingual in English and Chinese gave me an advantage in communicating with friends from around the world. I was also able to do translation work while I was travelling.
Not only that, but I also had a slightly easier time picking up the Korean language. Many Korean words are ‘borrowed’ from English or originated from Hanja (Chinese).
I experienced great personal growth from living abroad and learning a new language. I was more convinced than ever that I wanted to make a career out of languages.
If not for this trip, I would not have gained as much clarity and cemented my focus to set up two businesses around languages — Lucid Words (thelucidwords.com) and Fun Language Learning (fllacademy.com).
• Clarity is power as my business coach Marshall Thurber mentioned in a recent business course that I took. It was when I gained clarity that I could move forward and stop meandering in all sorts of directions.
• It is okay to take a break and re-evaluate what I am doing. In fact, I believe it’s helpful to do this periodically to ensure that our actions are aligned with our purpose and goals.
This is guest post by Rosalind Ong for Happiness Notebook. Check out her story at http://happinessnotebook.com/disillusioned-corporate-exec-found-calling-after-six-month-travel-in-korea/
I hope you have gained insights from Rosalind’s guest post. As always, remember to take action because knowledge becomes a power only when you act on it. If you support what I am doing here for Happiness Notebook, share this post on Facebook or WhatsApp or any of your preferred social media.