Jangwon An is from Korea and has been studying at ELC Boston for 14 weeks in our Intensive program. At ELC, Jangwon entertains his classmates and teachers with his amazing singing voice and karaoke skills. We will miss Jangwon’s tasty contributions to potlucks and participation in ELC activities after he returns home!
Where were you born and raised? Give us a mental picture of the place:
I was born and raised in Seoul. My city, it is famous for education so there are not many interesting things or entertainment. There are many schools and universities and academies. Other parts of Seoul have many entertainment areas and things to do, but in my part of the city, it’s mostly for academics.
What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?:
I usually do karaoke. Near my house we have many karaoke places where we can practice. Some of the places are very small, they have rooms for one person or two. I think I go once a day and practice there. I love this and I want to improve my skill. Another hobby is computer games, online games against other people. Many Korean people love this!
What is your profession? What do you like about it?:
I am a university student and I study electrical engineering. I didn’t really pick it, my uncle recommended my major. At that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I just followed my uncle’s advice. Now, I love my major. I really like math and sciences, they are my favorite subjects. I have had a chance to work with an electrical company for an internship so I think this was a good choice.
Tell us about your family, do you have kids? Siblings? Pets? Do they live close to you?:
I have one older brother and we live with my mother and father. This is really common in Korea if you don’t have a job to live with your parents. My brother is still studying in university so we both still live with our family. My school is a little far from Seoul so sometimes I stay in a dormitory during the school year. For pets, I used to raise many animals, dogs, fish, turtles and birds. Now, we don’t have any pets.
Why did you choose to study English in Boston? Did you consider other options?:
Actually, I wanted to go to Canada, I didn’t really know the difference between Canada and the United States. In the end, I chose Boston because my uncle gave me advice again to go to Boston. He has colleagues that graduated from MIT so he said I should come to Boston and experience that environment and atmosphere. My uncle said Boston is a very nice city.
What are all the ways that Boston is different than your city/town?:
There are many differences, but maybe the main difference is I noticed the building structures are very different. In Korea, there aren’t any historical buildings, all the building are new structures. When a building gets old, we demolish it and rebuild it. I love the old buildings here. Also, in Boston there are cemeteries, the historic ones, this is something new! In Seoul you would never see this. People would probably protest this, Koreans would think this brings bad luck, but I think it’s really good because here it is history.
What were you most surprised to learn about the US or Boston? Did you experience any culture shock?:
When strangers ask you, “Hi, how are you?” this is very different for me. In my city, we usually ignore the other people. In my apartment, we have many neighbors, but we don’t talk with this. It’s not unfriendly, it’s just normal in Korea. This is just the custom, but I like how friendly people here are.
What do you miss most about your country?:
I miss Korean food the most. My favorite food at home is Korean BBQ, especially the pork belly. The first thing I eat when I get home is pork belly. I tried it here in Boston, but it was really expensive. It was good though.
What are your top three favorite places in Boston?:
The first favorite place is ELC! The second place is Planet Fitness because it’s different than the fitness centers in Korea. The ones here, the ambiance and equipment here is very different, it’s more modern. Also, the people here are very motivated so it helps make me motivated when I go. I go to Planet Fitness every day. Third, I like Mooyah. I love their hamburgers. I went to other places in Boston like Harvard and MIT, but I like the real Boston places, like the gym and Mooyah!
Where have you found the best food from your country in Boston?:
I know good Korean food here in Boston, the best is Bonchon. We went there yesterday, it’s pretty famous. It’s in the Harvard area. I really suggest it, my friends who aren’t Korean really liked it too.
Favorite moment in class at ELC?:
My favorite moment was Thanksgiving here. I think that was really cool. We had a big meal and I tried many kinds of American dishes.
Favorite activity at ELC?:
My favorite activity was snowboarding at the mountain in New Hampshire. It was my third time ever snowboarding and the mountain here was really nice. It was really fun to go with other students. It wasn’t very crowded on the mountain so we got to go down many times.
What are some tips you have for people who want to learn English?:
I think I don’t have many tips because I also want some tips from people about learning English! Maybe I can just say practice, talk to people and make friends. Please tell me if you get any good tips!
What are your plans after ELC?:
I’m going to go back to my university and keep studying. I have two more years. I am a little bit nervous because when I was in my college I always feel pressure to get good grades, especially in my major. After I graduate I will work with the electric company in Korea as an engineer.