'I Learned a New Language During Quarantine, and It Was Life-Changing'

Learning the language was what I had signed up for, but it gave me more than that.
by Cyril Adavan   |  Dec 28, 2021
Image: Shutterstock, Pexels
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In college, I discovered my penchant for learning new languages. My degree introduced me to this exciting world through our required foreign language component. I studied beginner Bahasa Indonesia and intermediate Spanish. And from that experience, my bucket list just got crazier in a good way. I wanted to be a polyglot. Soon enough, it was cut short because of other priorities.

One summer night in quarantine, as I was scrolling through Twitter, BTS’ “Dynamite” trended. Out of curiosity, I headed to YouTube to watch it. After watching the three-minute music video, it instantly blew me away. The rest is history.

An exciting thought came to me. What if I learn Korean? On the first day of Korean language class, I sat in front of my screen, wide-eyed like when I first watched BTS. I knew that I was bound to fall into the rabbit hole. I knew I enjoyed learning languages when I looked forward to my classes. It was a breath of fresh air from my chosen degree. When writing tons of papers and essays became draining during the pandemic, learning a language came to the rescue. The sessions re-energized me like what a pastime does. 

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Learning the language introduced me to so many other things

Learning the language was what I had signed up for, but it gave me more than that. BTS’ videos and music were part of my everyday life during quarantine. I discovered many other talented acts along the way. These people inspired me in so many ways and being a part of my life during these trying times made life in quarantine easier to navigate.

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It taught me to loosen up and be more open to exploring

Learning a new language opened paths I never even thought of exploring. We had video homework in class which I enjoyed the most. I was never the kind of person adept at visually communicating a story, but I got to try overcoming this weakness by creating the scenes for my video assignment. Although it was embarrassing to hear myself awkwardly speaking in Korean, I had a good time and laughter shooting the videos that I looked forward to doing every week. Before, I would usually nitpick every little detail. I had learned how to loosen up and not take things or even myself seriously all the time. I never even expected in this lifetime to edit a video. It was never one of my interests but having firsthand experience editing the videos that I shot was a learning experience I still look for now that my Korean classes have ended. 

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Not only did I learn a new language, but I also learned new things about myself

I also uncovered a part of me when I started learning Korean. It was necessary to use what I learned to avoid running the risk of forgetting. It was a no-brainer to turn to K-pop. My personal Twitter account became a fan account, I must say, even if I never planned to turn it into one. My moots (aka mutuals, aka internet friends) kept me updated. The community was vibrant and fun. Fandom culture allowed me to broaden my world when going out was restricted.

I believe every reason we have for learning Korean is valid, whether it be simply wanting to watch K-dramas without the need for subtitles or to live, study, and work in South Korea. As for me, I found a soulmate in the Korean language and culture the more I got to know it beyond K-dramas and K-pop, as well as its strengths and weaknesses. The pandemic was frightening, but as I ventured on a newfound hobby of learning a new language, it was less scary.

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While schools suspended classes, I thought of where to go next. What will happen in the future? How long will this take? As I strived for fluency with the language, I spent less time mastering my anxieties of the future. But like learning a new language, fluency does not happen in a day. The same goes for dealing with the pandemic. I found comfort in taking things one step at a time.

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