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Day 34: Talent Show

I feel like a lot has happened today.

It was a special day at school. All high level students (levels 3-6) gathered in the assembly room to watch a Korean Speaking competition held at our language school. Ten students were holding speeches with one common theme of "Korean culture".

​Apart from the speaking contest, there were also dance and singing performances. A total of four and the performers had gone through a longer audition process and preparation too. Two of my classmates were performing, so we were all really looking forward to it. The first classmate sang, and the second one danced, and both did really well.

The competition was interesting to watch too. When it was announced at the beginning of the semester I considered applying, but I thought it would be too difficult since I still didn't know how my Korean skills fit in and I hadn't spoken Korean aloud in six years, so I decided against it.

Since then, I've both discovered that my speaking skills are pretty decent, but also that I've gotten stage fright. I know that I can speak Korean, and it's not a problem in normal every day situations, but during class when we have to present something even just in front of our classmates, I find myself shaking and when it's my turn and I stand in front of the white board, my brain suddenly switches off and I don't remember any words, in any language, and i have no idea where I am, or who I am, or what I'm supposed to do.

I power through, but I hear my voice shaking, and wonder what happened. I used to always speak confidently in front of a crowd, so what in the world changed?

I would have enjoyed preparing for something like this speaking contest, but with recent presentations in front of the class, I would be too worried about going blank again. Besides, everyone who competed or were a part of it, worked so very hard up until the day, and there are a lot of things I would have been unable to do because of a lack of time if I had participated. Besides, there was the whole audition process and very possibly I wouldn't have been picked at all, and that would have been okay too. But that is not what came to past, so instead I simply enjoyed the performances and speeches very much.

I thought that was all the day at school would have to offer, but then something unexpected happened.

At the end of the contest there was a fun little quiz situation where three winners were chosen and got a prize. Everyone had to answer Yes or No questions, and at first the questions were about Korean culture, and everyone answered well, but then they suddenly turned weird.

One questioned showed a photo of lip balm and hand cream and other such items, and then photos of the five male teachers in our school (Mr. Teacher was among them) the questions was to find out whose item they were. Hilariously they turned out to belong to my Mr. Teacher. Many people got that one wrong.

The next question was the one that surprised me though. This time they showed the hand of a female teacher and showed photos of five teachers, asking whose hand it was.

It wasn't the answer to the question that shocked me, it was that the first of the five options was a very familiar face.

Six years ago I also studied here at Ewha, at level 1. I haven't been back to South Korea between then and now, and when I first arrived, at the entrance ceremony, I was looking over at the teachers, trying to see if one of my two teachers from last was there, but I couldn't see them. But right there in the quiz question, was my teacher from six years ago.

As we came out of the hall, and I walked with two classmates, I kept my eyes peeled for her, and then, as if by fate, I saw her walk out towards the elevators and approached her saying: "Teacher!" in Korean.

I introduced myself to her and we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet for a coffee at some point. She was very surprised when I told her that I was level four now, despite only having studied level one with her, and it was lovely to see a familiar face.

I went out for lunch (burgers) with two classmates. And there we ended up talking about music and concerts, and then one of them said (in Korean): "I was wondering if I should go to the Big Bang concert tomorrow."

I casually add: "There probably won't be any tickets anymore..."

"No, no, I checked," she replies. She notices my plotting smile and says: "Want to go together?"

​So... I'm going to a Big Bang concert tomorrow. To those of you who may not know who Big Bang are, or why I'm going to their concert here is a brief summary: Eleven years ago, I was a young teenager happily surfing the web, when I came across the music of Big Bang. A Korean Boy Group focused on hip hop. I use to not like hip-hop, but my heart started to open itself to Korean hip hop and I liked the sound that Big Bang were going for.

In 2007 they released a song called Lies, and that song represents the day that I truly fell into the deep rabbit hole known as the Korean Wave and fell in love with Korean music.

If I hadn't discovered Big Bang back in 2006, I probably wouldn't have gained such a huge interest in the country, I might not have cared to learn more about the culture, I might never have discovered the wonders of this country, and I most likely wouldn't be sitting here, in Seoul, right now. For me, it all started with Big Bang.

In 2012, I saw them in concert twice in England, but I haven't seen them live since. I didn't expect to see them live here either, but now I am. The members are about to head out to do their mandatory military service, so this seems like it'll be their last concert, at least for a few good years, so I feel lucky and happy that I get to go. I'm sure it'll be a good experience.

I ought to say: "yet another good experience". Every day here is another day of possibilities and full of good experiences.

My day didn't end here though. After spending time with my classmates and booking the concert tickets, and came back home and waited for my roommate to finish a meeting with her Korean helper, and then we headed to Suwon.

In my blog from yesterday, I mentioned that my roommate is getting a tattoo here in Korea, well today we had to meet up with the tattoo artist to hand him the reservation fee. We've been pretty nervous about it, since it all came together so suddenly.

The first time my roommate and I went out to eat together, we talked about her wanting a tattoo. Back then we weren't roommates yet, and she didn't have the faintest idea of what tattoo she wanted to get, just that she wanted it to be something special. And now, a month later, not only does she know what she wants, we have already contacted the tattoo artist that she likes - and a date.

So today we went to his studio, and we now have a date for the tattoo session. We have mid-terms coming up in about ten days and then, after the mid-terms, in we will go there again for my roommate to get the tattoo. Today is D-13.

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