I started learning Korean almost 1 year ago. I’ve always had it on my bucket list to learn another language and have attempted Gaelic, Latin, Greek and Spanish. I put more effort into learning Gaelic than the others because I felt more of a connection with it being the language my ancestors spoke.
However, one thing I do regret about studying the previous languages is that I was too stupid and young to realize how important it would have been to pay attention and learn Spanish.
I started learning Spanish in grade school all the way up to my freshman year of college. I had amble time to become almost fluent in the language but 1. I didn’t want to learn a language someone forced on me and 2. I thought it was dumb to learn another language when I was in grade school.
Once I got to high-school and college, I realized that my naive adolescent brain really screwed me over. I really wanted to learn it then.
Now, you could stop here and say, “You can still learn it. I’m sure some things stuck with you which would make it easier to learn.” My response is yes, I could start learning it. However, I like to be different and I want to learn a language that most people don’t normally study. Hence, my sister and I trying to self-teach ourselves Gaelic.
To make a long story short, there weren’t enough free resources out there for us to learn Gaelic and we struggled to really grasp the language without a proper instructor.
Travel back to one year ago from today…
I initially wanted to start learning Japanese because I thought it would be really cool to not need subtitles while watching anime. I started studying it, but then I kept getting ads for learning Korean.
I won’t lie and say that I looked into Korean after I kept seeing the ads but gave up trying to learn it about 3 times. Finally, on the 4th attempt, I decided to really put effort into it.
At the same time, I was really on a downward spiral with my depression and desperately needed something to keep me active and away from my life-threatening thoughts. I actually stumbled upon the Korean group, SHINee, and felt a connection with one of the group members, who also dealt with depression.
Between diligently self-teaching myself Korean and consuming myself with this group and individual, I was able to occupy my mind from some of the negative thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, you can’t ‘make depression go away’ by replacing it with something else.
I won’t say that it didn’t help me, because it truly has. I’ve met some great people who have the same interests as me and some amazingly strong individuals that are going through the same mental health issues. I can talk to these people about anything and not feel judged or find that I’m not actually being heard.
Even today, I still talk to all of them and hope that I can continue to do so. It truly is nice talking to those who have similar interests or struggles as you. The only sad part is that I can’t actually meet them.
In the beginning, I really pushed myself to study Korean. I mean, I really studied. I spent about 3-4 hours every day for months just studying. I was putting my all into it because 1. I desperately needed a distraction for my health and 2. Learning a new language has always been on my bucket list as an adult.
I was having so much fun studying again and realized that I missed going to school and learning. I also realized that so many cultures study hard to learn English, yet many English speakers don’t put in any attempt to learn the language of another culture. I want to alter that one-sided mindset as best as I can.
I even joined the Korean language learning group on Reddit and downloaded the app, HelloTalk. Both have been extremely useful on my self-teaching journey. However, the two things that really helped me learn and have kept me interested in learning has been BillyKorean and Talk To Me In Korean. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it this far without their lessons.
I watch their YouTube videos, bought their workbooks and even still listen to their podcasts on my way to work.
Initially, I really didn’t want to take a full on Korean course because I was worried that it would turn my learning into a chore rather than a fun hobby.
However, I reached a point where I was becoming overwhelmed. I felt that I had stopped progressing and that things I once knew were harder to remember.
So, I enrolled in a language course online.
I think a combination of waiting for the class, depression unmotivating me once more and becoming busy with life all caused me to stop putting in as much time into studying. That made me feel even more depressed because I had put so much effort into learning the language already and really didn’t want my mental health to impede the initial goal I set.
I pretty much tortued myself for months that I wasn’t putting in as much effort and that I needed to get back into it. Even today, I constantly beat myself up for not studying one day or not exerting as much energy into learning as I did before.
Still, I continue to push myself because I really do want to learn. I think if you have the passion and motivation, it will move you forward. I’m constantly trying to find new ways to integrate the language into my daily life and make it fun. Whether that is watching K-drama’s, listening to K-pop, or attempting to read Korean children’s books.
I know this was a very long post, but it was important to me. Learning is important to me and I believe we never truly stop learning. It is important to keep our brains active in order to keep them healthy. I truly do believe that I’d be in a far worse place if I hadn’t done these self-interventions. So, in a way, Korea kind of saved my life. Thanks Korea! 감사합니다! 👍🥳 I couldn’t have done it without you. 언제나 한국에 방문할 거예요.
Are you learning any languages or are you studying anything to keep your brain active? Comment below!