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EF Stories: Lea from Portugal at EF Seoul

EF Stories: Lea from Portugal at EF Seoul

My name is Lea and I'd like to tell you about my adventure with EF. In August I travelled to South Korea to learn Korean for three months.

I had already started learning Korean in February 2018, through an online course, because I wanted to be able to connect easily in South Korea and start communicating as soon as I arrived. I'd already been to South Korea three times, so I knew what to expect. South Korea had already stolen my heart even before the EF course, but what I experienced in my three months there only made what I already felt stronger.

My host father travelled a lot for work, so I mainly spent time with my host mother (42) and their son (7). Mum cooked for us every day and, as is customary in Korean culture, shared everything willingly. I also had lunch with them during the week when my classes were in the afternoon. As well as kimchi, rice, kim (Korean for seaweed) and egg, there was also soupas, samgupsal, bulgogi, bibimbap and other delicacies. As soon as I got home I was asked "Have you eaten yet?". My host brother was very shy at first and it took him a while to get out of his comfort zone, but from the start I felt part of my host family. We went on trips together, visited some of their favourite restaurants and on my birthday we had some super delicious meals. I really liked my host family and I still keep in touch with them today. Next time I go to South Korea I'll definitely pay them a visit.

My host family lived in Yongin, two regions away from Seoul, in a recent neighbourhood with skyscrapers. There are many advantages, but also some disadvantages to living there. The air quality was definitely better there than in the city centre and the flat was modern. I had my own bathroom and for a symbolic price (€3.20 per month) I could use the shared gym in the apartment block. The cost of public transport was relatively high because I had to travel into the city on the red line (the most expensive route). Each journey was 2.20€. If you want to explore the country, plan longer journeys to areas like Hongdae or Itaewon (about 1.5 hours away).

Classes at the school were a mixture of set classes and SPIN classes (specific interest classes). This allowed me to improve not only my vocabulary and grammar, but also my knowledge of Korean culture. The number of SPIN classes was large and changed frequently. The lessons were taught exclusively in Korean, but when the expression on the students' faces became indecipherable, we were allowed a word or two in English to clarify things. Overall, my Korean has improved significantly. If you have the time and want to learn the language, I recommend learning Hangeul (Korean characters) before you leave. Knowing it makes things easier in practice, but it's not compulsory. You can also take the EF course at the most beginner level. After my study trip, I developed an even greater understanding of the Korean language and culture.

All the EF staff were very friendly and available, even outside of working hours, to answer any questions. Whether you needed help with personal or school-related matters, everyone was on hand to help. The interaction between students and teachers was friendly, which undoubtedly made the lessons more interesting and lively.

The activities we could do were diverse and adapted to the time of year. In August we went to Caribbean Bay, the largest open-air swimming pool in Korea. There was even a DJ and we were able to swim and snorkel listening to good music. There were regular dance classes for K-pop fans and dance enthusiasts. Students could make requests for activities to the Activities Managers, who did their best with all the offers they provided each week.

In addition to all the incredible experiences I had with EF, I also travelled around the country and visited some friends. I really got to know the country and learnt about traditional customs. My friend Suhyun invited me to Chuseok, the Korean harvest festival. There, I had the chance to see a Buddhist festival, harvest sweet potatoes and cook traditional Korean dishes. I took dance lessons with Kyme and we managed to dance three choreographed routines, which I'm very proud of. And finally, a particularly special experience on my trip: I met all my favourite Creators in person and appear in several of their videos. From crazy nights in Hongdae clubs to karaoke parties and walking marathons to catch the last train - I'll never forget any of it. It will all be in my heart forever.

Thank you EF for these unforgettable experiences!

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