It’s been a parade the past few months on Facebook as recent graduates from my alma mater announce new jobs, move to new cities and start their lives with all the fanfare of their 1,000+ friends on social media. But slowly, the balloons and streamers have started peeling away; the parade is over, and now we’re just a bunch of young adults cut loose to go into the world.
Which left me with one big question: how was I going to continue studying Chinese?
All my serious language learning so far happened in the context of college life—study abroad, formal classes, language competitions and so on. Oklahoma didn’t have a lot of Mandarin speakers just strolling around, so going through the university was my only way to find them.
As a post-grad who has cut strings from his alma mater, I had to start getting creative on how to keep up my East Asian swagger.
Going Strong on Chinese in the Mountain State
Surprisingly, I think I am now banking even more hours per week speaking Chinese then I did in school. Even though Boulder is hardly the multi-cultural mecca of the United States, I’ve managed to cobble together a strategy that is working fairly well.
Picking up Language No. 3 (Slowly)
안녕하세요? = Hello = Korean = Language No. 3
I’ve been wrestling with the idea of starting a third language since I got back from China last Christmas. I toyed with the idea of tackling a European language, but I just didn’t have interest. I finally settled on Korean; between the financial restructuring in the 90’s and the powerhouse entertainment industry that took over the country, South Korea is becoming an interesting country to follow right now.
The genesis of my Korean studies is like how I started Chinese three years ago—slowly, sporadically and with scattershot methodology. I have a textbook, an online course, a podcast and a notebook. That’s about it.
So far, the journey with No. 3 is slow—I’ve picked up maybe half the alphabet and have grabbed onto a few very specific phrases from rote memorization. It’s an easier language than Chinese, but between work, hiking, volunteering and learning Chinese, Korean is following the “slow and steady” as opposed to the “intensive and comprehensive” route.
End of College ≠ End of Learning
I knew before I left college that the process of learning is something that I enjoy and did not want to lose in my life. It manifests in different ways, but one of the most rewarding and challenging ones is language learning. I also knew that after the fanfare of graduation ended, it would be up to me to push myself. I am no longer accountable to grades and professors.
Continuous learning is one of the core disciplines that I want to instill in my life while I am still young. I’m a firm believer than learning, both in formalized accredited academia and individual pursuits, enriches the life and pays dividends over the course of it.
College is over, but my education is nowhere near from complete. 加油，화이팅
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