On December 22, 2020, Chea Sokpheanika, a Senior of the D e p a r t m e n t o f E a r t h
Resources and Environmental Engineering, won the Grand Prize in the 1st Sungkyun Korean Writing Contest in Korea. She was selected as the South Korean Government-invited student in 2017 and thus came to the country all the way from Cambodia. The theme of this year’s contest was “challenge” and she wrote an essay in Korean with her own experience of challenge in her life.
Q. How did you get interested in Korea and Korean language?
A. I was in middle school when I first learned Korean. I was in an international school of which a Korean missionary established. Therefore, I had classes in three languages, consisting of Cambodian, English and Korean. I could get to know about Korea and the Korean culture by communicating with Korean teachers. Later, as I visited Korea in 2012, taking a tour around Korean universities made me dream of studying in Korea.
Q. Can you briefly explain the essay you wrote in the contest?
A. The theme of the essay contest was “challenge”. It was chosen to remind writers the true meaning of the spirit of overcoming adversities that everyone currently needs in this pandemic. As a person who have continuously challenged myself in my life, I defined the meaning of challenge in my own words. Then I wrote about the ability and attitude one should have for facing challenges by introducing my preparations for coming to Korea, the biggest yet most meaningful challenge in my life.
Q. It is hard to write an essay in a foreign language. How did you prepare for the contest?
A. Since the preparation period was short, it was important to use the time effectively. First of all, I took a look at the past 1st place works and figured out how the essays were written. Then I took a note about the strengths that I found in their essay structure. As I practiced writing, I tried to include those strengths in my essay in my own style. Moreover, I tried to estimate the theme for the contest, listing the biggest issues of the year.
Q. How do you feel about winning the Grand Prize?
A. Winning the Grand Prize helped me recover my confidence. I have been applying for an internship these days. However, I failed several times and lost my confidence. This was truly a great opportunity to recover from those failures.
Q. Do you have your own tips for studying Korean?
A. I tried to establish a habit of reading various Korean books, from easy ones to hard novels. When I find an expression or a sentence that comes to my mind, I memorized and utilized it for appropriate situations. Besides, watching Korean dramas is another way to study Korean. Watching K-Dramas helped me to learn actual idioms and expressions that Koreans use casually, which are difficult to learn from books. Among various ways to learn Korean, it is important to find out which method is effective for your study, as I did.