Korea: 파이팅

I spent the fall 2009 semester abroad at a global university in South Korea. My university in Texas maintained an exchange program where engineering students could move to South Korea, attend classes in English, live in an international dorm and not fall behind in their course sequence. I jumped at that opportunity!

During international student orientation, I became very sick. But I still met an amazing Korean gal named Mi-Young.

Don't mind us, causing trouble.
Photo from 2009. Gunsan, South Korea.
I adored Mi-Young's love of life, her smiling spirit, and her slightly devious nature. We got along quite well.

"Ok, ok, ok, ok! You eat rice! I eat you!"
Photo from 2009. Gunsan, South Korea.
She was my go to person for teaching me important Korean phrases and explaining to me insights into her culture.

"Hi Five!"
Photo from 2009. Gunsan, South Korea.
The most useful Korean phrase she taught me was "fighting."

I was telling her about my classes and how I just did not want to do my homework. She put her fist in the air and shouted, "FI-TING!" 

I must admit, I was caught completely off guard.
"Mi-Young, what are you saying?" 
"FI-TING! It engrish word, no?" 
"Well, um... yes... technically fighting is an English word. But we definitely don't use it like that." 
"Oh." She paused as she thought about how to explain the true meaning of the phrase. "FI-TING! You go! You got it!"
파이팅, sometimes also spelled 화이팅, is a form of Korean slang based off of the English word "fighting." It is such a powerful phrase that I adopted into my own life.

"Oh. We were taking a picture. I wasn't ready."
Photo from 2009. Gunsan, South Korea.
Scary medical test?

Unknown medical diagnosis?

New medical treatment?

Monday morning dread?

It's been over five years since I first learned that phrase from Mi-Young but I still find myself using it on days that I'm not feeling particularly "Clearly Alive." 

Try to shout out "파이팅!!!!" during a really stressful moment. See if it causes you to smile. I know it sure helps me.

Photo from 2009. Gunsan, South Korea.

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