This year I have traveled to Korea for my volleyball tournament at an International School in Korea. Korea is a country where the people there do not speak English or Japanese, but only speak Korean which is a language I do not speak. When I travel somewhere with my family we go to a country where English or Japanese is a language of communication, so I almost never had problems with language with my life. Although I have gone to Korea several times, I was with several friends who could speak Korean.
During the tournament, I was homestayed by a Korean student. Although the student spoke English, I had problems communicating with her mother sometimes as she only spoke Korean. During the first day, I called my homestay to come and translate what I wanted to say. However, I have changed over the next couple of days. I used gestures and body language to communicate with her mother, and she even understood when I wanted my (and my teammate’s) uniform washed for the next day. I was personally surprised by the power of the language of gestures, and this experience also taught me how much gestures are important in communication with language.
On the last day, we had spare time at the airport, therefore, some of us went to Lotte Mall in the airport to shop. First, I was with 2 of my teammates, however, we lost each other when we were shopping at different shops (which were next to each other). As we had a meeting time, we decided to meet there. As it was my sister’s birthday, I decided to get makeup for her birthday present, so I looked around various shops. I found a shop that I liked, however, I did not know which colors to buy, and in addition, the price was not shown. I knew my sister wanted a variety of red makeup, but I could not choose for her, and as Korea is a country of beauty and makeup, I wanted to ask the shop assistant. She did not speak English at all.
Although I tried using gestures to convey my message, it seemed like they did not understand. I saw the limit of gestures there. I was thinking of a way to communicate my ideas. I thought of a way. A very major but an accurate way. I was so happy to have wifi and google translate on my phone. This was actually my first time using google translate in my whole life and it worked amazingly. I was able to ask the price of the makeup, and she also helped me choose colors for my sister.
This experience made me feel very proud of myself. Although I was alone, I had been able to communicate my own thoughts accurately to the shop assistant. Before this experience, I have always felt the border in language, making me hesitant to go to areas where I could not speak the language. After this experience, I feel like the world is now so small, with the technology. I really felt how we can use technology to communicate with many different people in different areas of the world.
I also felt the value in different cultures. As I mentioned earlier, Korea is a country of beauty, selling different makeup. The people there have a different sense of makeup, and I really value this as I personally like Korean style makeup better. Now I really am excited to go to different countries where I am interested in without thinking of the language barriers as I now know how to communicate using different strategies and techniques.