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Seoul Shock: Ahjumma Calling

Seoul Shocker is Danielle Davidson’s firsthand experience with studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

I mentioned earlier I’ve been getting calls from an elderly lady. She decided to call me again. I was sure she had the wrong number or was dialing incorrectly, but I didn’t know how to tell her. On top of that, it was early in the morning. However this time I was better about talking to her in Korean.

Ahjumma: yeoboseyo

Me: yeoboseyo

This voice sounds familiar

Ahjumma: ye, nuguseyo?

Me: Danielle iyeyo

**Don’t tell me it’s that Ahjumma again.**

Ahjumma: nugu?

Me: Danielle

**It is you!**

Ahjumma: eh?

Me: joesonghabnida, migugsaramieyo, hangugmalmolayo.

**Now she knows I don’t speak Korean, she’ll apologize and hang up.**

Ahjumma: eh?

Me: hangugmalmolayo! migugsaramieyo! miguk!

**Talk loudly, she is elderly…**

Ahjumma: isangeh

Me: ye  *hangs up*

**Wait did she just say it was weird that I was an American who didn’t speak Korean?**

*ring ring*

Me: yeoboseyo

Ahjumma: yeoboseyo

**You again!!**

Me: joesonghabnida, hangugmalmolayo!

Ahjumma: isangeh…

**It is not strange!**

Me: … yeh, joesonghabnida *hang up*

*ring ring

**Nooo, Ahjumma this is the wrong number!**

*silences phone*

I promptly found out how to say, ‘this is the wrong number’ in Korean and saved the lady’s number under ‘Ahjumma calling’ so I know when to just let it ring.

Anyway, I finally opened up a bank account!

I’ve never had a bankbook with butterflies on it before. I’m not sure why everything in Korea is so prettified. It confuses me at times, but I still love my butterfly-covered bankbook.

A Korean friend went with me, and I’ve gotten used to the fact that when there’s a Korean with me, or any Asian person for that matter, the Koreans will speak to them instead of me.

Even if I can understand a good portion of the conversation, it’s assumed that I can’t. Which is fine. If I want them to talk to me instead of my friend, I can ask them a question directly in Korean.

Another thing that confuses me sometimes is when people speak English. I went to the store the other day, and the cashier spoke to me in English. I stared at her. What did she just say? Is she speaking in English or Korean? I fully expected her to talk in Korean, so when she spoke in English, I was caught off guard.

She asked me again if I wanted a plastic bag, and I nodded enthusiastically and answered her in Korean. I think I made her day. The foreigner who gets confused when you speak her native language and then answers English questions with Korean. Yeah, it’s fun sometimes.