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2019.09.09 09:10

Korean teacher shares her experience of living in Vilnius – peace, fresh air and bland food

LRT.lt2019.09.09 09:10

As the new academic year begins, a new crop of about 220 students will start studying Korean language and culture at Mykolas Romeris University's (MRU) King Sejong Institute, according to a press release.

The Institute‘s new administrator, Heejin Kang from Seoul, says it is easy to feel at home in Vilnius due to its peaceful atmosphere and fresh air.

“I love this place,” said administrator Kang, who just started her job in Vilnius after a month-long vacation in Seoul.

Having taught Korean language for three years in Katowice, Poland, she says she wanted to come live in Vilnius.

“One of my Polish students had Lithuanian parents, but they live in Poland. She told me about Vilnius, its beauty, the history. I wanted to come.”

While in Poland, Kang also heard about KSI Vilnius, founded in 2014 by MRU and Korea’s Dongseo University (DSU).

“This makes it all the more interesting for me. We feel the energy here,” Kang said speaking of the many cultural activities organized at KSI, like K-Pop contests, film screenings, a theater group and taekwondo classes (offered during summer).

Fresh from a stay in Seoul, Kang had her fill of spicy Korean food, especially the rice cakes with chili sauce known as Gochujang. It is made from red chili peppers and powder and is very popular in Korea, she said. “It’s too spicy for foreigners. Of course, your mouth is burning after it,” she said.

Korean food is expensive in restaurants Vilnius, as well as in Warsaw or Katowice, so Kang often prepares Korean dishes at home.

“We can not go out to eat every day,” Kang said.

“We use black soy sauce with garlic powder and sesame oil to make a popular Korean sauce that we serve with spinach or other vegetables,” she explained.

“Most Koreans eat spicy food,” she said adding that she finds Lithuanian food generally quite bland.

An optimist who likes to laugh, Kang said she has had “no difficulties” adjusting to Lithuania. “I feel very peaceful in Lithuania,” she said.

A city of 10 million, Seoul can be polluted and stressful to live, she says.

“Life and work has more of a balance in Vilnius and it’s less stressful than in Korea,” Kang added.

She has much respect for students who take up studying her language and culture.

“Foreigners studying Korean are so cute,” she said laughing.

“I love them because they are studying Korean and love our culture,” she said.

About 10 years ago, there were very few outsider who knew much about Korea or its language. Not so anymore, she added. At least everyone knows Korean companies: Samsung, Kia, Hyundai.

MRU KSI offers about 10 courses this semester. First classes started on September 2, but registration for Conversation 1 Korean course is still open. The 15-week course, which began on September 4, is free (registration via email: ksi.vilnius@mruni.eu).

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