So I had to make a post about all the bad things here. It’s Tuesday and it’s only been two days since classes started, but it’s been a nightmare trying to get everything sorted.
KU has only been accommodating exchange students for six years, versus Yonsei University, which has been accommodating foreign students for over 25 years. So KU’s Center for Global Studies department (the one that helps us get everything we need to get settled here) is not too organized or experienced. Thus, as study abroad students, we’ve not received the best and most up-to-date information. In addition, KU accepted about 1000 exchange students this year and they’ve only had 500 in previous years, so I think they were really unprepared to accommodate so many foreign students this year. This resulted in many classes being really full.
I haven’t attended any of my courses that are taught in English at KU yet, so I’m going to just comment on the Korean Language courses. I decided to sign up for Korean Language for Beginners I and Basic Speaking for Korean Language. In both classes we had to take a placement test to place us among the other students in this class. The Korean Language for Beginners I had over 150 students registered, so the teacher decided to split the class into 5 or 6 groups, or “streams,” depending on their Korean level. I ended up getting an interview and getting into the “most advanced stream” but she said it’d be a bit difficult for me. That’s okay – I’m planning on working really hard to improve my Korean. As for the Basic Speaking class, there was a very simply oral quiz that placed us either in 1) no knowledge of Korean language or 2) very little knowledge of Korean language, which was a lot less stressful.
If you know consonants and how to make basic sentences only, you should take the beginning Korean classes at KU. The Beginning II class actually requires you to know a bit more Korean – they don’t speak English in class at all, so be prepared if you are trying to take anything higher than the very basic Korean Language courses – they will make you take a placement test.
The only Korean I know is the basic stuff I learned from TalktomeinKorean.com – a great resource, by the way. Very easy to understand and really helpful information. However, I’ve never taken an actual Korean language course at school or anywhere – I’m totally self-taught up until now, so my Korean is very, very basic. I can say simple sentences like my age, my ethnicity, what country I come from, and basic sentences in present, past, and future tense.
I’m taking two Media classes at KU – Popular Culture and Understanding Digital Society. I have yet to take them, so I will update with reviews of these two classes. In the meanwhile, I’m living off of $2 meals at the school cafeteria – it’s pretty cheap (not delicious) and studying Korean in my spare time. There are a bunch of parties at clubs that sound interesting, but all of them have cover fees (from 10,000-30,000 Won – waaaay too much), so I’m not even going to bother.
Gonna go sleep now ~
I just have to start off by saying that the past couple of days have been so intense. We had orientation with KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistants – they’re pretty much required for exchange students), who showed us around and helped us get basic things, like cell phones and bank accounts and student IDs. I don’t feel like going into detail about what this week has been like, because it’d take so long, so I’m going to sum it up into a list.
Words from a wise KU student:
- Don’t live in on-campus housing. At least, don’t live in CJ International House or Frontier House. I didn’t mention this earlier, but the walk up the hill to both is brutal (CJ being much worse). I dread the thought of having to walk up the hill once a day, and in reality, I go up it several times a day. There are plenty of off-campus housing options really close to main campus that are cheaper and better. Also, CJ is really far from main campus AND the science campus. The only redeeming factor is that there are buses that shuttle between CJ and the two campuses, but don’t count on them.
- Tell your KUBA buddy you want to look around for the best cell phone deal. KUBA buddies and exchange students are split up into many groups (there were 10 this year), and each group went separately to look for cell phones. Our group went to a cell phone dealer in the Science Library in Hana Square. Don’t go there. The prepaid phones are rather shitty. The truth is, if you don’t want to pay for a monthly plan, you will have to get used prepaid phones that may or may not work well. I have friends who bought used prepaid phones whose enter buttons don’t work. And they can’t even return them, since we didn’t get receipts. Be very careful. If you have a family member in Korea, make them buy you a phone on their plan.
- There is no online course registration at KU. That means, you have to go to the International One-Stop Center along with over 500 other exchange students who are all hoping to get into the same classes. I really, really hated this. A lot of the classes I got approved ended up being full by the time I could sign up, so I’m taking 2 Korean language classes. There’s an add and drop period, but that’s also done manually. I really wish KU would switch to online course registration like US universities do.
So much heavy stuff. I’m going to post a new post later with happy touristy things. For now, here is a picture of my friend Thanh and I in Myeong-dong in front of a Won Bin picture :)