Download the FREE content-packed guidebook The Poor Bastard's Guide to Learning Spanish (and other languages) when you sign up for the newsletter!


Email Address




School Tips: International Students

Your ships... burn them with maximum prejudice.

Burn them.

So yesterday after my stupid class I was going to go home and actually learn some Korean, when suddenly a cool South American dude was like “Hey Matt come to this international student event! There’ll be food and presentations from lots of countries, and I’m going to play a Michael Jackson song on my guitar!” Never one to say no to the possibility of finding Indian food in Korea, I went along with it. I ate many foods. I met people from all over the world. I watched presentations and sexy dances and videos until 8pm. It was fun… until I realized what had actually happened.

They Englished me. They Englished me hard. Cool people from all over the world, easy access international foods, a sexy Phillipina girl desperately wanting to carry my children… and I had spent eight hours without hearing a single world of Korean. I excused myself to the restroom, got on a bus, and went the hell home.



Gal dernit, I’m in Korea. Unlike these people hell-bent on recreating their own country here, I’m actually trying to learn the language and assimilate. International events are the worst. They have one single function: repel the native culture. Out of the hundreds of people in attendance, maybe, maybe 1% were Korean (seriously, it was like 3 or 4 out of ~500), and they were in full-on I’m-here-to-speak-English mode. Which is brilliant, because they’re using this system to their advantage, just like I would. But for anyone who wants to learn Korean, this place was death.

That was yesterday. Today is the international student field trip, where everyone gets on a bus and takes thousands of narcissistic photos of themselves with people and rocks and shit while avoiding the Korean language at all costs. Obviously I didn’t go, because here I am taking a TV break to write this (with Korean in my headphones of course).

International students are the enemy. They’ll use anything to get you into their circle- community, food, and yes, even sex (rebuffing the advances of that not-Korean-speaking Phillipina who had not ten minutes prior done a burlesque sex-dance on the stage was absolutely my saying-no-to-the-One-Ring moment). They’re nice, they’re cool, and they don’t ask much in return- just that you completely give up the entire reason you travelled thousands of miles in the first place.

Burn your ships.

Burn them hard, and with prejudice.

They're the friends you deserve, but not the ones you need right now.

They’re the friends you deserve, but not the ones you need right now.


Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Opt In Image
Become more motivated!

If you can't get enough of learning tips and advice on how to become more AWESOME, you really have to sign up for the free newsletter. When you do you get Ramses' ebook The Poor Bastard's Guide to Learning Spanish for FREE!


Email Address

*We care for your privacy and will never, EVER, share your e-mail address with others.

The following two tabs change content below.
Matt is an unorthodox teacher and, above all, an unorthodox writer. He taught himself French mostly by watching TV, and now lives in Korea where he is training for the International Bench-press/Bicep Biathlon.


Mary Halloran January 27, 2014 at 11:55 am

This post cracked me up, you’re a hilarious writer.

Same thing happened when I did the Chinese Language Program at Tsinghua University. All the international events involved a bunch of non-English native foreigners trying to English me–but at the same time, I noticed that the Japanese and Korean students had such poor levels of English, that had no choice bu to speak to us in Chinese.

In fact, many of my fellow classmates even suggested: “Hey, since I can’t make Chinese friends, I should just talk to the Japanese and Korean kid in our class to up my Mandarin. ” I guess the Japanese students in Korea were still trying to English everyone? Or do you find that Korean is the *only* way you can talk to them, so you have to use it? I actually learned Japanese from speaking it with my ex-Korean bf and Chinese friend in Japan. I mean, their English sucked so we had no other choice.

When I first started learning Chinese and Japanese I cut off all contact with foreigners and I was one of those racist language learners that refused to be with my own people (aka English speakers). I tried as hard as I could to suck in Mandarin–I wanted nothing to do with those other silly foreigners. But after 5 years in Asia, I started opening up to other foreigners and speaking more English and realized–hey, some of these foreigners are worth meeting, and they help me keep my sanity.

I agree about the worthlessness of the int’l events that the school sponsors (waste of time!), but as for burning bridges, I think it’s a matter of picking what bridges to burn rather than burn them all.


Matt January 28, 2014 at 2:28 am

I can’t even keep up with your brain. Japanese students in Korea studying Chinese with your Swahili ex-boyfriend who was adopted by Mandarin-speaking Cambodian rebels? What?!

Thanks for the compliment on my humor. I like telling jokes and my family sometimes tells me I’m funny.

As for bridge-burning, I’m kind of a rip-the-band-aid-off type, but to each his/her own. I’ve mellowed out since I started writing here, people can do whatever and it may or may not work. It’s all good, the important thing is that we eventually end up naked together, right? That’s what Gandhi said anyway.

I like your blog, or rather I’d like it if I was a girl, what with all the relationship stuff. I’m not your target audience, but it’s nevertheless well done.

Keep on rocking in Shanghai!


Mary Halloran January 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

Hahaha yeah, I mean, the best way to learn Mandarin is from a China raised Swaihili kidnapped by Cambodians, as I always say. I guess all I was wondering is: Do you ever speak Korean, in Korea, with non-native Koreans?

Oh man is my blog that girly? I need to man it up.

Thank you for the compliments, I am starting on French this year so will look around here for tips and whatnot. Good luck with Korean (grammar is a btch eh?).

Oh yeah random question, how do you feel about politeness levels in Korean? Or have you not really focused on that at all?


Matt January 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

No, I don’t really speak Korean with non-Koreans. I did at school, until I decided I couldn’t stand another minute practicing with Chinese foreign exchange students and started spending all of my time with actual Koreans.

French is cool, you will be delighted as your brain decodes the beautiful language into the never ending stream of complaints and insults that comprise it! As a certain genius who may or may not be me once wrote on this blog, pick the culture (not the language). Is France for you? If so, kewl. If not, kewl. Either way, topless pics are appreciated.

Politeness levels aren’t a problem, as far as I’m concerned. Switching between low and polite speech is easy enough(“when in doubt, 요 it out” covers most of it), and I have yet to find myself in a situation requiring higher levels of formality. I spend 90% of my time in low speech anyway, since my aspirations are purely for friends and sweaty, rug-burny fun.

Don’t man up your blog, it’s already good. If you try to make something for everyone it ends up being for no one. Don’t take any guff from anyone, not even smart, strong, rich studs like me.

Keep on kicking ass, Mary!


Mary Halloran January 29, 2014 at 7:44 am

Hey strong, smart, rich stud man,

You’re so nice and motivating! Just wanted to say that.

And as for French, I hope it picks me. Half my family lives there and I’m sick of being the stupid American that can’t speak it–thought I’d put a change to that. Although secretly I can hear Italian calling my name… so many languages, so little time!

And topless pics don’t come free.

Anyway, update more, haha.


Raphaelbarros December 16, 2014 at 7:43 am

Man, that remembers of one of the biggest mistakes I made when I went to study for one year in Korea: living with three friends that speak the same language as me (and during the second semestre, living in a building packed with people from my country).

Now I’m back in Brazil, studying Korean by myself and trying to compensate the oportunity lost. I just found your blog today and find it really informative, but with some stuff that made me confused about my approach to learning Korean. I’m right now thinking about a way to convert from my way of learning it (a mix of Sogang textbook, ttmik, anki with audio and maybe 2h of immersion per day, even though it’s just watching a series with Eng sub, listening to music and reading some 만화) to yours, just to test it out during my vacation. I’ll probably ask lots of question on the following days 😛


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: