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Journals from Spring and Fall, 2012 South Korea

2012-04-28 Midterms Week


This past week was midterms week here at Yonsei University. For the majority of students, all classes are cancelled to provide time to finish studying for the exams. With a major emphasis on education and exams in Korea, almost all students during this time go into hibernation. Exams are part of the Korean culture. You must take exams to do anything prominent in the country. For example if you want to work for Samsung or any other business bigger than a family business, you have to go through a series of exams, interviews, and personality tests. The total number of points you score at the end of all these sessions will show who will and who will not get hired for the company. Men that have been in the military already to do their required two years of service for the country get an automatic 5 extra points to distinguish them from other applicants. This being said, Korea is a very exam/test oriented country.

There are daily news reports about the suicide rates of young people who are in their schooling years (anywhere from junior high school until graduate school). The majority of those students struggle with their social lives and feel as if there is too much pressure from school, parents, and society to reach the highest level of education and get into the best schools. Parents in this day and age are forcing their children to go through private and international schools to build up their second language of English in order to have good scores on the TOFEL. By doing so, young people’s parents are expecting their child to enter Ivy League schools in the States. The tension throughout the country for high performing students is truly unbelievable.

On a side note, sleeping rooms are greatly utilized during this time. The picture above shows the door of a women’s sleeping room. However, it would be rude to take a picture of the inside. But basically there are bunk beds and couches within the rooms for women to rest during the day. There are some for guys, but it is more acceptable for a guy to sleep in public, which is why there are more women's sleeping corridors. These rooms exist in many buildings across campus, especially in the library. Since the library is open 24 hours a day, there are rooms there that allow for rest when the time comes. Sleeping rooms are necessary for students at Yonsei since most students travel between 30 minutes and 2 hours in order to get back to their homes. If you live in Seoul, no matter how far away from the school you are, you are not able to get a room in the dorms. Dorms at Yonsei are reserved only for students that reside outside the Seoul area. Thus the sleeping rooms are of great importance for the commuting students.

Dana Hellie

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