I have to admit, I love watching Korean dramas and variety shows. The comedy, the action, the romance, the cheesy pick-up lines — they totally appeal to me. The thought that I didn’t understand a word everyone was saying never occurred to me, and I have always relied on the English subtitles to bring me through the story. Of course, I remember a few phrases here and there — but never enough to actually understand much.
Until… I was offered to take up Korean language lessons. In South Korea. And then I thought, “Why not?” It was the opportunity to learn a whole new language. And I might finally be able to get a little bit of what Gong Yoo and the members of Running Man are trying to say!
Lexis Korea – Korean Language Centre
And so began my Korean language journey with Lexis Korea. The language centre was the proud winner of the prestigious STM World School Award, an award voted on by industry professionals world-wide. With campuses in two of South Korea’s biggest cities — Seoul and Busan; it offers students not only the chance to learn the Korean language, but also be a part of everyday life in one of the world’s top countries to visit.
Lexis Korea offers several courses — from Intensive 15 and 25 hours a week courses to one-on-one and weekend courses. What I like about the system at Lexis Korea is that they allow students to enroll for a minimum of 1 week (until of course, for as many weeks as you need to master the language) — so even for a traveler looking to learn a little bit of the language, they could do so while touring the country.
The City of Busan
I was to spend 2 weeks learning Korean… from scratch. My first week as a complete noobie started in the beautiful port city of Busan. I have visited South Korea’s second biggest city once before (you can read about it here), and I was extremely excited to visit it again — because being a beach girl at heart, I love this city with many, many beaches. Busan is also culturally rich and blessed with gorgeous landscapes and landmarks — beautiful temples on cliffs, colorful villages on hillsides, and stunning city views from the mountains.
And the food. Oh the food. Not only in Busan, but everywhere in South Korea. Korean food is absolutely delicious to me. You can read about my favorite food in Busan here:- Mynn’s Top 10 Food to Eat in Busan.
Lexis Busan – Seomyeon
The Lexis Korea campus in Busan is located in the busiest area of the city — Seomyeon. I believe that I could find anything in Seomyeon — a shoppers paradise with undergrounds shops, department stores and outdoor markets; a cafe culture hub with pretty cafes, international coffee chains and dessert shops; and a thriving nightlife with pubs, club, restaurants and entertainment spots.
I love that I could be amidst the hustle and bustle of Seomyeon during class breaks and after school ends. Never the same restaurant for lunch, and so many options of things to do to fill up the time in the evenings. Lexis Busan is central, and convenient, and so easy to get to via the city’s (excellent) public transport.
Lexis Korea also helps students arrange their stay in several types of accommodations. There are the homestays where you get to live with a local family, the serviced apartments for a more comfortable and higher standard (and more costly) room choice, and the more budget-friendly mini studios (or goshiwon in Korean). During my stay, I was put up in the mini studio at Yangjeong — just one station away from Seomyeon on the subway.
The mini studios are super small (and extremely narrow), with basic furnishings (a single bed, a small wardrobe, desk, chair, air-con, small fridge and tv) and a tiny private bathroom. I have to admit that it takes a little getting used to, and I felt a little claustrophobic at first. The Yangjeong Ministudio, thankfully, is pretty well maintained — the rooms and building look clean and new. They also provide shared facilities like the kitchen (with free rice), laundry room and rooftop. The door to my room and the building entrance are password locked.
My First Week with Lexis Korea — Korean Foundation
Now on to my week of classes in Busan! The first day in school started with a quick orientation of what Lexis Korea was all about, how our week was supposed to go, and also our daily timetable. I took the Intensive 25 hours a week course that saw me heading for classes from 9am to 3.30pm from Monday to Friday. The Intensive 15 hours a week one only has the morning session. I started with the Foundation Course, and my class had a total of only 3 people — me from Malaysia, and another two from France and Switzerland. I really like the small, personal class as the teacher could concentrate on each one of us, and it was easy to interact with each other and ask questions whenever we got confused.
We had the same teacher for both morning and afternoon sessions, and the foundation course starts with the basic hangeul alphabets; and throughout the week, goes on into making basic sentences like greetings and introduction, and then well-used words like things, locations, occupations, actions, family trees; and ends with the construction of Korean sentences in the present tense.
At the end of the week in Busan, we had a test to see if we could head up to the next level of the course — and I passed with 92%! I was then promoted up to Beginner Level, and took my week’s classes in Seoul (will write about it soon).
Outside the Classroom
I had fun in class learning a new language; but I will always remember the ‘more’ fun I had outside classes. I loved getting to know the new friends from all over the world in Lexis Korea — and my classmates and I (and those from other classes as well) would not only head out for lunch break together, but hang out after classes as well to (sometimes) study and do our revision, or (most of the time) grab dinner or drinks in the evening. We even headed out to explore Busan together during the weekend. Thanks to Lea, Florian, Lisa and Elena for all that.
On several days of the week, Lexis Korea organizes get-togethers, activities and city tours to make our time in Busan even more interesting. During the week I was there, I had an orientation tour of Seomyeon on my first day, and then joined the school’s Friday tour to the Korean Central News Agency Historical Gallery and the Busan Jin Market. On one of the days that week, the school had an “Introduction to Korean Dialects” session — but since I couldn’t even speak the language properly (yet), I gave it a miss.
My Experience with Lexis Busan
I had a great week as a student at Lexis Korea in Busan. I really didn’t think I would enjoy studying again that much, but I actually did. Learning about South Korea through their language gave me a whole different perspective as a traveler — and it really gave me a taste of living and studying in Busan, and I loved every minute of it. The city is vibrant and exciting, but there are also the beaches — where you can sit by the cafes and listen to the sound of the waves while studying (or in my case, more writing).
My class in Busan was small, which meant that we had more one-on-one time with our teacher — and I think that extra attention really helped me understand the basics of the language a little faster. And learning the language in the country itself gave me the opportunity to use and practice it on a daily basis. Imagine how thrilled I was the very first time I answered a question by a cafe owner in Korean (albeit probably broken Korean)! Oh, that sense of accomplishment. Priceless.
*She Walks the World went to learn the Korean language in Busan, South Korea, thanks to Lexis Korea. However, as always, all opinions and suggestions stated here are my own.