I sat in Starbucks yesterday evening studying for TOPIK. Ah, beloved TOPIK.
TOPIK is the Test of Proficiency in Korean, administered by the government four times a year to those of us attempting to get a hold on the language. It’s to give us a heads up on how we’re doing and also for loads of important things like deciding entrance for foreign students to universities in Korea, scholarships, study abroad, job opportunities and the like. For me, I just care about getting a heads up.
As I sat there staring at the vocabulary list in front of me, I heard someone speaking loudly. Looking up, there was a guy and girl across the coffee staring at me and motioning. I took out my headphones.
“What are you studying?” he asked from the other side of the room.
“Korean” I replied, holding up my textbook for him to see. “You?” I asked.
“Tagalog” he replied, holding up his. “She’s teaching me”, he said motioning at the girl next to him.
Conversation ensued and within five minutes, they’d moved to the table next to me and we were chatting away like old friends. United by a love of travel and language, the three of us swapped stories; “So my parents are Chinese..” he began, I butted in with “Oh, I speak Chinese, do you speak Chinese?” and then we swapped to Chinese and we carried on until they had to leave for dinner.
Admittedly I didn’t get much Korean studying done that evening but instead, I’d made two new friends and my Chinese got a workout…so all in all, not a bad result!