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Saturday, 19 August 2017

CU Student Journey from the Campus of Chandigarh University to the International Podium of South Korea

~ Geet, Student, Chandigarh University

A few months ago, I was granted with a 100% scholarship by the education ministry of South Korea to participate in a one-year exchange program at Pai Chai University. This opportunity came my way all through the great support of my home University - Chandigarh University.

One of the biggest challenges I face here is the Korean language, but I am equally passionate to learn. The initial stages of learning a language can be very monotonous. I found myself becoming lazy and procrastinating every now and then.

In the month of May, my teacher announced to the class about an upcoming Korean Speech Contest at Pai Chai University. She said one student would be nominated from each language school class. It was an instinct to just raise my hand and volunteer as I raised my hand I looked around at my friends and noticed that I was the only one with my hand up. After the teacher wrote down my name, my friends started praising my “bravery”.
Frankly, at that point of time, I had no clue what I had just gotten myself into. Two months of studying a language and here, I was up and ready to deliver a speech in front of the whole school and be judged for it!
But, What is life with no challenges? So, I began jotting down my thoughts and wrote a speech in Korean in about a week. My teacher made the necessary corrections and BAM! It was ready. It was after this that I had to fasten my belt even tighter. They say memorization is the absolute worst way to deliver a speech. It didn't seem like I had any other option at that point but I really wanted my speech to sound as natural as possible. So, I began using the vocabulary from my speech in day-to-day situations.

I became a complete psychopath by the last week, as the anxiety began to grip me. I practiced countless times but was still so sceptical about how my performance would go. I have been a stage person for years but, I never ever had this many thoughts or predictions of making a fool of myself on stage.

I woke up at 5:30 the day of the contest knowing that I was going to represent my country in front of hundreds of people. For the first time in my life, I draped my own sari, which by the way was almost as challenging as giving the speech. It took me nearly an hour and a half! 

But, I can't compare the feeling of grace and elegance you get in a sari. Confidence is so effortless in it.

My Russian friend accompanied me to the venue. I went back stage, gave myself a pep talk, popped in my headphones and listened to some bomb music on ear damaging volume.

Before I knew it, it was SHOWTIME…

I felt so relieved and content at the end of my performance because it was finally done and over with. The anxiety was finally gone. I sat calmly and watched all the wonderful performances by the other candidates from different countries. What a show it was! After about an hour and a half, they announced the results.

I know it seems so overrated to say that the results didn’t matter. But, THEY REALLY DIDN’T. My purpose of taking part was to challenge myself to the extreme and I was satisfied.

My name was announced and I didn’t comprehend for a few seconds because my name becomes a completely different sound with Korean pronunciation. The hard work was paying off! I stood 1st place amongst level 1 Korean Learners and 2nd place competing with advanced Korean learners.

Such a priceless feeling to make your teachers, family, and friends this proud!

 Later that week I was in a Korean Newspaper! How cool?

The chance to represent my country, share my experience, deliver a speech in another language, majorly leap out of my comfort zone, win, get a money prize, get published in a South Korean newspaper and make my loved ones proud.

I couldn't have asked for more of an outstanding experience.