We are officially done with the first two weeks of the school year!
For me, I have had an extremely manageable schedule — unfortunately I have classes on Fridays — but Tuesdays and Thursdays I only have one class so guess who’s going to be doing some adventuring :)))
When picking your classes I would advise you to be as clear as you can when selecting classes taught in English. Classes are too large for teachers to be able to accommodate for the individual, so make sure you clarify that before, so you don’t end up taking classes in Korean. Also make sure you sign up for more credits than you actually need so you can drop a class if it’s too much, or if you’re looking to add another one and don’t get in you’ll still have enough credits to not stress.
If you come here I highly recommend the Human Ecology class. It’s a great class to just learn to be introspective, but I have been able to learn much more about Korean culture and how social norms contribute to their everyday life — really it just helps me explain some things I’m confused about, like why women wear heals when walking on hills and uneven streets??? It seems so illogical and painful.
My Professor also taught in Chicago for eight years so she is really good at understanding the depth and complexity of American Culture and articulates Korean society very clearly — everyone needs to take this class!
In regards to Korean Language classes, I recommend the intensive course if you have enough time to dedicate to it. The regular Korean 1 class is really great for people who have never learned the language before but it’s really popular so you have to be really smart when bidding for classes. The intensive class, I can only compare to taking Japanese at Linfield. I tested into the Level 1.5 class, meaning we move really fast and they expect us to be able to read and write well. The teachers are there for you, but you have to do more stuff outside the classroom than other classes (in my opinion), and there’s definitely some stress if you take a day off (much like Japanese, I would say — 先生、 こんにちわ！元気ですか?)
Korea also has a large drinking culture. I’m underage so I don’t drink (let’s just clear that up) — but I think it’s important to be safe while you’re here. There have been several foreigners that have put themselves in unsafe situations with alcohol because in Korea you don’t refuse a drink from someone older than you (it’s considered rude). Even if you don’t drink, study the drinking culture before you come here so you know what’s going on because it’s a much bigger part of their culture than you, I, could’ve imagined. There are lots of foreigners that don’t understand their limits and need help, so just be safe, okay?
With that in mind, you have to actively seek out certain Korean friends that have interests outside of partying, because the most common thing people want to do is go to a bar or club — when I really wanna go to a palace ya’know?
Watch out for cars, I don’t remember if I’ve said this before, but they have no interest in stopping for you so you will die! they! do! not! care!!!
Fun activity wise, I basically just eat — haha! There are still so many places I want to try, but I found a really great Indian restaurant if you want something other than Korean or Japanese food, and there are a few places about 20 minutes from campus that are apparently famous for being delicious and inexpensive and I haven’t been yet — definitely an issue on my part.
There’s a Japanese curry place that I went to that has free refills — so you bet I’ll be back there, a pizza place which is also awesome, has a great view, and is reasonably priced (pizza is so expensive here), and a Vietnamese place I went to for lunch that was very cheap, delicious, and was very much a hole in the wall.
Also today is White Day! (not while you’re reading this), but it’s weird seeing just how many couples there are here. It’s weirdly assumed that there can’t be friendships between men and women, so if a girl and guy are together the first thought is that they’re probably dating — which is only more intense on a day like today where it’s literally for couples. I will also point out that you can also give gifts to your teachers as well — I found that out when my KLI teacher was like “it’s white day! Where are my gifts?” and when no one had anything, we drifted off into silence (THAT WAS EXTREMELY AWKWARD). To explain more, White Day is a day on the 14th of March where the men give the women candy! Valentine’s Day is when women give men chocolates (which is backwards compared to the West), and then there’s Black Day (dun-dun- DUNNNNN) which is for single people on April 14th to “mourn” the fact that they did not receive any gifts from anyone. On that day, single people eat jajangmyeon, a noodle dish with black sauce (apparently it’s from China). Sometimes people who eat that are matched with another person so they won’t truly be alone. A little funny, a little weird, and definitely a topic for deeper discussion of the Korean social standard for love and relationships, yeah?
Hope you found this interesting or helpful!
나중에 봐요! (see you later)
— 아이시스 (Isis)
P.S. — did you know my name is a water bottle brand here? I only drink me haha