Korea, Seoul, BIBA… It was a pleasure!

First of all, I want to thank to Diana and Blackie, my teachers, because they were patient with me the whole time. It was not easy for them, neither for me sometimes, but I think we made a good team together.

It’s real, I am back home. Back to my usual responsibilities. And because of that I owe you an article about what I have learned in my 5 months of studying Go in South Korea.

These 5 months were especially a life lesson for me. Before going to Korea, I wouldn’t imagine that I could be home sick or that I  wouldn’t adapt to some environment.

It was a bit hard to adapt to the Korean life style. There were good moments, bad moments, just like in any experience that you live.

I realized one thing. Wherever you go, you put your fingerprint in that place, more or less. For example, you go every morning to a pick up some kimpab from the closest kimpab place and then you would go to a Seven Eleven to buy your favourite orange juice and then for the dinner you would go to your favourite restaurant, Makgeolli place, where 2 nice ladies know that at 6 pm you will be there to order some delicious food. These things make you feel like home somehow and those people will remember you in the next few weeks, or maybe months if you’re an amazing person.

These are a few things that I’ve learned in Korea:

1. Don’t expect a teacher to TEACH you. It sounds weird, right? But it’s true.

If you want to study Go and improve, you need to know that a teacher will not do that for you. The teacher is not there to tell you what to do, how much and in what ways. The teacher is there to guide you on your way of becoming strong.

Blackie was telling me that the master Lee Chang-ho had a teacher, Cho Hun-hyun, who let the master study mostly on his own and just once in a month he was getting a review from him, only when it was necessary.

2. Frustration while solving tsumego is mandatory!

Indeed it is. It’s impossible for a human being to stay hours and hours in front of some sheets, thinking and reading variations after variations, without getting frustrated and angry. So don’t feel there is something wrong with you if you feel you cannot solve that problem right now.

As my Sensei Blackie says, when you go to the gym to train your body and become powerful, you don’t expect it to be fast. It takes months, maybe even years to get to the result that you want. Training your mind is as difficult as training your body. So get used to the idea that is a long journey.

3. Find your place.

A restaurant, a specific area in a park, a street where you like to walk alone. There will be moments when you want to be alone, to contemplate or to get some energy. That should be your special place!

4. Don’t get too attached to people.

BIBA is a school for foreigners, so it is pretty common for people to come and go. I was not used to this kind of system, so when you get to live with the same people for a few weeks or months, when they leave, it is a huge drama. Everybody is sad when there is a student going back home.

5. Don’t throw and push too hard the stones on the board against Korean papas!

Because they do it! :))

And if you do so as well, they are getting even more mad. They anyway try to kill you everywhere and if they don’t manage, they still want to count. Been there, done that!

6. A bowl of rice a day, keeps the doctor away!

7. Koreans say that salt is very harmful for your health, but not the sugar!

Even though the Korean food is delicious and usually healthy anyway, they don’t put much salt in it, because they think it is unhealthy. However,
when it comes about sugar, they don’t apply the same principle. You can find sugar in potato chips (?), normal foods and they even have a recipe of watermelon with milk and sugar.

8. It is much easier to lose weight and buy the standard size of clothes there, than to find your sizes!

9. Your tygem rank matters more than your EGD rank!

In my first tournaments, when I was asked how strong I am, I was always saying that my strength is 1 dan European, until I realized they don’t really have a database, so you should always say your Tygem ranking.

10. Don’t think too much, don’t waste time and energy on weird thoughts, study Baduk.

Even though I studied a lot and I miss that, I have a regret that I didn’t study enough. Many friends of mine who went to Asia to study Go, have this regret so I think that is familiar among the Go players who study seriously Baduk. But because I am an overthinker, I wasted a lot of energy in things that didn’t need to be in my head.

The reason why I left Korea is a bunch of more reasons that I prefer to not share. But mostly, I chose to come back home for a relative of mine. Go is still not more important than my family and probably it will never be.

Of course, there are more things that I’ve learned in Korea, that I am about to share in the next articles. I am greateful that I have been there.

I was lucky.

Thank you, people. Our blog is something that will remain and it will make me remember for sure about Korea. I hope I am going to meet you all in the next tournaments!

BIBA, it was a pleasure!


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