This June, we're sharing stories of discovery and realisations from people who can be considered in-betweeners as travellers. For staying at a foreign land longer than the usual tour but not long enough and permanent to consider themselves immigrants, here are accounts of people who have come to love and explore an unfamiliar place Like A Local.
Star Clozetter Melissa Phang shares how she fell in love with South Korea, enough for her to call it her home away from home.
There and back again
I shuttled to and from Korea for four years and would sum up the duration of my stay at two years, but I still make very frequent trips there.
Having a good eight months of break before starting college in 2011, I decided to pick up something useful — the Korean Language. I guess the affinity started ever since then and my ability to speak fluent Korean has been very helpful in trying to live like a local.
My long stays in Korea started in 2012, when I started as a summer student at Seoul National University, staying there for 2.5 months. Following that, in 2013, I interned at the same summer program and stayed to study at Yonsei University for the next four months. I came back to Singapore and returned to Korea the next Spring and Summer. I went back again to Seoul in 2015 and worked at Seoul National University for about a year.
Korea has always felt like home to me, sometimes more so than Singapore. The food, the people, the culture, the way of life all fit very well into my palette; and the fact that I have very good friends in Korea made my time very unforgettable.
In 2012, since I enrolled in the summer programme, we were all very well taken care of. The only downside was that my Korean roommate then, sharing the same room, was unfortunately very unfriendly. My other house mates, though, were very
nice so that made up for the experience.
As mentioned, Korea feels like home so there weren’t any major challenges except for the fact that living alone, I had to do all the household chores, which I didn’t have to in Singapore. I also had to be very extra careful about my formalities especially when I was speaking to people senior to me.