June 1 ST (1 ST Day): Arrival
The first thing that I noticed as soon as I stepped out of the airport was how the cars were all color white and gray. It took about two hours to get from the airport to my dorm, arriving around 7pm. The campus is so big and on a mountain in Gwanak-sa. I am excited to tour the campus because I’ve always wanted to attend a large public university (I attend a small private university in America).
When I got to my room, I was very shock to see how small it was. It wasn’t very glamorous looking as I expected it to be, hence the fact that I am attending Korea’s # 1 top university, but I guess this will work. However, it makes sense because I chose the cheapest dorm, which cost $ 460, but I didn’t pay anything because the scholarship I got paid for it. I realized that my dorm is an all-male dorm as soon as I walked into the hallway with men walking in their boxers. Awkward. The dorm also has a communal bathroom, and no private bathroom. :(
I really like the community of my dorm, though. There’s a convenience store right next door, which closes 2am! Yay for late night snack! In the building where the convenience store is, there’s also a cafeteria, café, and gym!
My roommate is nice. He’s hapa (half Japanese, half American) and is from Virginia. He’s 28 years old, and is a law graduate student. We’re both in a Korean Level 1 course. Majority of my housemates are half international students, mainly from China, and half local Korean students.
June 2 ND : 1 ST Day of Class
Day of the first class (technically 2 ND for Me Because I missed the 1 ST class Due to Day of My brother’s Graduation) was tiring but Very Fun. My class consists of mainly international Chinese students, but is also diverse. There’s a total of 2 Americans (me and this guy from New York), 1 from Switzerland (he’s of Tibetan heritage), 2 from Indonesia, 1 from Laos (apparently a government official), 1 from Saudi Arabia, and 10ish from China. They’re mostly college students. In the entire summer program itself, there are mainly Chinese international students, A LOT from China, a bunch from Russia, Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, and a very few from Southeast Asia and America. I also met this girl from Mexico, I realized that both locals and international students here are very homogenous, so it’s really hard to make friends and approach them because they’re always sticking with their own group of people.
For my class, I have a 3 seongsaengnim (teacher) who rotate on certain days. On the first day, we just went over hangul (Korean alphabet), which was really easy for me because I already know it.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from my dorm to the class. But there is a free shuttle, which I usually take. After class, I met up with a group of people who spoke English, and decided to hang out with them for the rest of the day. For dinner, we ate at an all-you-can-eat samgyeopsal (Korean bbq pork belly) place for $ 10, which is a really good deal!
June 3 RD -4 TH : Figuring out the Subway System
Unfortunately, SNU is located in the south of Seoul, which is far from the tourist spots in central Seoul (ex. Sinchon, Myeongdong, Insadong, Dongdaemun, etc). It takes about 30-40 minutes to cross the Han River to reach central Seoul by train. I briefly toured Sinchon and Dongdaemun, but did not do much because I was really jetlagged and tired. I did a lot of walking and was always lost, especially in the subways.
One interesting I notice was seeing an advertisement in the subway promoting plastic surgery! Also, I noticed that Koreans like to watch their Korean dramas using their smartphones or tablets in the trains! Even the uncle (“ajeosshi” middle-age men) were watching their favorite baseball game in the train!
June 5: Korean Grammar
Today, we learned about formal ending markers: What, is, ah, you nip b (imnikka, imnida, animnida). I’ve always wanted to learn this because I always hear it in Korean dramas! I’m so happy! :) Classes are 5 days a week, 4 hours each day, so 10 minute breaks at each hour. It can be very tiring, but time goes by so fast! The class is divided into writing, reading, and speaking.
It’s just the beginning, but I am so proud of myself. We are going in a fast pace, and it’s getting harder, but I think I can do it!
I ended the day eating at a restaurant, and ate tteobbokki for $ 3, and here I am now writing the blog. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I plan to eat dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen for 4 years!
Overall, I’m definitely learning a lot and having fun in Korea so far! I hope next week will be full of adventures. Anyway, I’m still jetlagged and really tired, so I’m going to end it here!