I’ve made many Korean friends here in Canada and most of them are hell-bent on improving their English, while simultaneously having the time of their lives in Canada. The problem is many of them choose to live in K-town, spend most of their free time with fellow Koreans, and then feel bad for speaking so much Korean so lock themselves up in the library to try and study English.
Well, I’m going to give you some advice on how to avoid spending so much time in the library by yourself, yet manage to improve your English while having a great time!
Avoid living in Korea town! Try to pick a place to live downtown where you will have to meet and speak to people who do not know Korean! Learn about different cultures, try new foods, get to know people of different ethnicities, by living in a place where you are forced to meet them! (because I know approaching a native speaker of the language you are learning can be really hard!)
Living in a different area, such as downtown or perhaps even near York University or other major universities/colleges, allows you to interact with people around your age and helps you feel more comfortable with a bunch of people of different ethnicities. You can also learn a lot of new and useful information about these people’s cultures and try their food!
HANG OUT WITH CANADIANS! Of course you’ll have your close-knit group of Korean friends, and if something really serious is on your mind it’s probably easier to talk to them about it, as there is no language barrier; but, for the most part, try to hang out with people who speak English! Make friends with them! Don’t just use them to learn the language! You may be surprised and how nice and understanding a lot of Canadians can be! After all, most of us immigrated from another country! If not the people you are meeting, their parents or grandparents probably did! So they understand you!
Talk with them as much as possible! Chat on the phone or on Skype, go on mini-vacations together, and even study together! Who knows, you may even end up with a boyfriend or girlfriend! ;)
Attend language exchanges! The people you meet at language exchanges most definitely understand the way you’re feeling! They’re shy to speak Korean just like you’re shy to speak English! Plus, you guys can help each other a lot simply by taking turns in speaking languages, teaching each other about vocabulary and grammar, and even helping each other with homework! You can also teach each other about your respective cultures, food, customs, and traditions! Make friends with as many people as you can when you attend language exchanges! Most of those people are looking for friends too! :)
Be aware of your surroundings! Learn about Canada – the history, government, laws, rules and regulations, customs, food, etc. The more you know about Canada , the easier it’ll be for you to interact with the right people and for you to feel comfortable!
Don’t lose yourself! Don’t make a new you just because you think you can start over here or you can erase whatever happened when you go back to Korea, because you can’t! You affect every single person you meet here, and they affect you! You never know what might happen in the future! Don’t be afraid to build real relationships while studying abroad! Those friends just might come visit you someday, and they may become valuable people in your life! So, even though you’re learning English here, you can also learn a lot of valuable life lessons!
Good luck to all Koreans studying abroad! I hope everything goes well for you, and I hope this blog helps you make good decisions while studying in Canada!