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A Smart Girl From China

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You can hear strange accents but also energetic voices if you visit the Korean language class at Dankook University at Youngin in Gyeonggi Province. The class has about twenty students coming from a number of countries studying the Korean language and culture as well as their own majors. Among theses students, there is one girl who catches everyone’s eye. Her name is Li Xi who hails from Guangdong in China. Li Xi came to Korea last year to study English and the Korean language as an exchange student. She is studying English translation at Guangdong University of Technology in southwest China.

Since attending the Korean language class for foreign students at Dankook University, Li Xi’s ability in conversing in the language has greatly improved. She can write, read, and speak Korean quite well so it hard to believe that she has been learning Korean for only six months. Li Xi said: “It is much more difficult to learn the Korean language than English; but, as an exchange student, I have to learn. I attend not only Korean language classes but also take English literature and linguistics classes in English.” For three months this winter she has only concentrated on learning Korean. After the class she usually watches Korean soap operas on the internet for fun but also to get more familiar with hearing Korean.

Li Xi lives with her friends whose are also exchange students like her in a university dormitory where she eats lunch and dinner at the cafeteria. However, for breakfast, she usually just buys a box of ‘Chocopies’ (chocolate cake with marshmallows, a popular snack in Korea) because she doesn’t have the time to prepare breakfast every morning. Like other foreign students, Li Xi likes Korean food, especially ‘Ganjang Gejang’ (fresh crabs in soy sauce). She remarked with a smile: “The first time I boiled Ganjang Gejang because it looked strange, but after tasting it I was fascinated with its fresh and sweet taste.” She also enjoys Bulgogi (seasoned beef with soy sauce) and Japchae (fried Chinese noodles with beef and vegetables) and says that both are similar to Chinese food. She said: “I enjoy lunch at Chinese restaurants as well because it is cheaper and, of course, being Chinese the food is delicious to me. Even though the dishes served in ‘Chinese’restaurants in Korea are not exactly Chinese food, I still enjoy to eat at one. I can also partake of Jajangmyeon for only two thousands won (about 1 dollar) in a restaurant in front of my school.”

But Li Xi freely admits that she is not a big fan of spicy food like kimchi. Since suffering from a terrible stomachache when she ate spicy ‘Haemul Udong’(seafood noodle soup), she is always careful about spicy Korean foods. At first she could hardly eat kimchi at all, but now she has just started to eat a little. She remarked frankly: “To be honest, I don’t think I am going to enjoy kimchi until I go back to China. But, still, I will take back with me some packs as presents for my friends. For my parents, however, I will bring Hongsam that is has been getting popular as a healthy food.”

For the half year Li Xi has stayed in Korea she says that the best place she has visited was Sorak Mountain. With some friends she planned a two-day visit during which they climbed the mountain together and enjoyed a spa. She remembered poetically: “The mountain was covered with a carpet of expressive huge rock and maple trees turning red.” She has also visited Nam-i Island located in Gapyeong in Gyeonggi Province, has gone shopping in Myeongdong (in downtown Seoul), and visited the amusement park in Jamsil in the capital. She said with a glint in her eye: “Before I leave Korea I would like to visit tourist spots as much as I can and especially Jeju Island.”

Li Xi is going back to China in July when her one year as exchange student at Dankook University comes to an end. She summed up: “Before coming to Korea I didn’t know much about the country, but having been here for some months now I can honestly say that I enjoy living here. If in the future I have the chance to come back to the country I will do so with great pleasure.”

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

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