Why I never gave up learning korean

2:29 PM

...Seriously, it's been over two years!

Although I am an avid believer that we should focus on the future rather than dwell on the past, I think this time I would like to allow myself a look back on the events that have led me here, before I focus on what’s to come. And, if you don’t mind, I would very much like to take you on this journey with me.

How I started, my insecurities along the way & overcoming prejudice


Once upon a time there was a girl who felt lost
& had a lot of free time on her hands

There I was, fresh out of college - so goddamn lost as to what I was going to do from then onwards that I didn’t even want to think about it.

As the Serious and Responsible Adult that I was - and still am, obviously -, I decided to find myself something other than my future to occupy my mind with. Because that’s what you do when you have worries, right? You run away from them and hope they lose track of your ass.

The sooner the better.

A brief list of musts for my new language:

  • Be as different from both Portuguese (my native language) and English as possible
  • Sound absolutely beautiful to my ears
  • Have enough materials online for me to study without taking lessons, at home
  • The language and I must fall in love with each other either instantly or within a brief period of time


I already had my eyes set on Japanese when I made the decision to learn a new language. But things didn’t work out exactly like that in the end. My story with Japanese was a short-lived one. All because of my accidental stumble upon a Korean Drama.

The korean drama that made me discover korean
I guess you can say I owe all of this to Park Shin Hye and her flower boys on Flower Boy Next Door

At the time, I thought it was Japanese, like the airheaded person that I am. It took me a whole episode to start wondering about how the sounds I was hearing, although just as beautiful to my ears, did not sound much like Japanese. That, and how different the writing I was seeing was from what it should be.

I knew one thing, though: I liked what I was hearing and seeing. Actually, I LOVED all of it. You could say I got that last item on my list right then.

Korean and I fell in love.

I said goodbye to Japanese, and a big hello to korean.


It’s been two years since then. And you know what? I don’t regret a thing about the decision I made. What’s more, I continue to be just as excited every time I learn something new. It’s still just as challenging.


Like Rap Monster says in one of BTS’ songs, life isn’t just flower trails and good things.

To be entirely honest, as I was starting to get involved in both the language and the culture of this new country I was discovering, my ignorance led me to having some not-so-great-very-bad opinions on certain things.

My first experience with Kpop was as follows:

  1. watch a music video
  2. laugh
  3. promise to never do it again 

Mind you, way before all of this I was one of those people who listened to Gangnam Style multiple times “ironically”. That didn’t stop me from sitting on my throne of douchebagness and shut down Kpop entirely because it was so different from what I was used to (and what I listened to).

At this point, it should come as no surprise that for a while I took pride in telling people about how the origin of my interest in the korean language had nothing to do any love for Kpop music, or korean pop culture in general (which was kind of a lie because a Kdrama started it all).

Sitting on my dumb throne, it somehow made me feel superior to those who did start learning korean because of it. I look back and I want to shake myself senselessly until I realize how prejudiced and nonsensical that concept is.

In truth, that attitude was only a reflection of my insecurity. My decision to learn korean was always (and still is) looked down upon by family and even friends who don’t know a lot about South Korea, their culture, and the language itself.

(Not meaning to say that I am an expert on all things South Korea - I am not, I’m just a girl with a lot of interest in it)

I constantly felt like my decision to learn a new language, which should’ve been something to admire, was looked down upon just because it wasn’t the typical language a girl from Portugal would learn.

This lack of support made me question whether it was worth it to keep learning or not. And, apparently, it also made me emulate this behavior and look down upon others.

Somewhere along the way I became interested in this Pop Culture that I previously looked down upon. I started listening to korean pop songs (my first true Kpop song that I played on repeat was Big Bang’s ‘Bad Boy’), watched more and more kdramas, as well as variety shows. Along the way I met many people who also shared an interest in these things.

As it happens with everything, prejudice goes hand in hand with ignorance. As I learned more about the culture, and the more people I met, the less prejudice I held in me.

It also helped that I grew up and looked at life in general in a different, more open-minded way. Basically, I got off of that throne I was in.

It was about time.


Why you should do what you love
The things I do when I'm not actually taking notes include writing ILY (yoongi) like I'm still in middle school. I'm that cool.
You might be wondering why I never made the decision to give up, despite the obstacles I found in my way. The answer is pretty simple: despite everything, learning korean makes me feel good. 

I don’t perceive this learning experience the way I used to perceive my French classes in high school. To me, learning Korean is something I do for personal pleasure. It’s my favorite hobby! It’s fun, it's stimulating, and kind of really cool, if you ask me.

What it comes down to is the reason why you choose to do things and how they make you feel. If something makes you happy, who cares what other people’s opinions on it are?

As you can see from my example, much of other people’s judgement comes from their own insecurities anyway. So, I repeat, why should that impact your enjoyment?

Whether you’re learning korean because you want to speak to your favorite idol, or because you want to see kdramas without having to wait for subtitles, or because you want to be the next CEO of Samsung, any reason is an equally good reason to do it.

And that’s pretty much it.

My current korean pop culture related loves:

  • BTS (I think this one is pretty obvious from my last post about korean words I learned with them)
  • Running Man
  • Dean
  • Zico
  • Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
  • Jung Hoseok a.k.a J-Hope (yes, I know he's from BTS,  but he deserves a solo mention anyway - he's the idol I want to speak with *wink wonk*)


An accurately exaggerated representation of me whenever I try to study with books for more than 10 minutes
Even though I use the word study a lot of the time, I don’t know if that’s the correct way to describe my korean learning experience. Because I treat it as a hobby, where my goal is just to have fun doing it, my study methods are not so much cramming with books (there’s also the fact that I pretty much suck at studying). In fact, I don’t much care about getting books or taking tests.

Not to say that books aren’t important. I do use books sometimes, but I much prefer to approach learning as a game. So I use game-like apps to memrise vocabulary (get it?), listen to podcast lessons hosted by nice, funny teachers (TTMIK, anyone?), watch a lot of shows I grow to love, just to hear the language being spoken, and listen to so many korean songs all the time.

Granted, it’s a slower process. But, for me, it’s what works the best - especially since I mostly study during my commute to work. It’s also a much more natural learning experience, in my humble opinion.

Different people have different approaches, however. What works for me might be the total opposite of what works for you.

But, in the end, what matters is you answer this question with a ‘yes’: does learning korean make you feel good?

I hope it does.

Why did you start leaning korean (or any other language)? And have you ever considered giving up on it? I'd love to know about your story in the comments bellow!

Photography credit to Mariana Pereira, my personal favorite photographer  Follow her on her instagram I guarantee it's worthy of your follow! 

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  1. This is so inspiring. I am Korean but was adopted so i have been trying to learn Korean, but learning a language is quite difficult, especially when you have so much other things going on. Def going to try and be better at studying though!

    Enclothed Cognition

    1. That's true, it's really hard to find time to learn a new language when you have other things going on in your life! But don't be discouraged, you can learn at your own pace. It's pretty amazing that you want to learn korean. I hope you keep going!

      Good luck, Keri.

      - Maia ❤

  2. i luvvvv this post!!! so proud of you to come this far. i started learning french purely out of my love for this language a while ago but i stopped in the middle :( but given a chance, i would jump on learning french and arabic because i LOVE them so so much.

    Noor | Noor's Place

    1. Thank you! It hasn't been easy but it's fun!

      French is a beautiful language, I'd like to learn it after I've become somewhat fluent in Korean, actually. I hope you get to learn it, or Arabic (or both) at some point!

      - Maia ❤