As I’m writing this blog post, the second week of classes at Korea University have started! Currently, the window for add/drop is open and I’m finalizing the classes I’d like to take for the semester. My classes range from topics surrounding brain and cognitive sciences, social neuroscience, research methods, and gender in media communications. While I feel somewhat more confident in navigating around my campus now that I had last week to get acclimated to my new school, my confidence levels looked very different a week ago.
To start off; Korea University is one of the top rated schools in the country of South Korea. It is comparable to Harvard in the sense of competitiveness and prestige. When it comes to registering for classes, it is almost like playing the lottery. There are multiple “phases” for registration and for exchange students it’s extra concerning as there are limited spaces for each class taught in English. When classes first began I had only two classes that I truly wanted, and two other classes that were fillers in order to meet the minimum credit requirement. Thankfully since then I’ve been able to add and drop the necessary classes in order to get a schedule I’m satisfied with. The decisions and sacrifices I’ve had to make concerning my classes put me through a lot of stress the past couple of weeks, but I found ways to rationalize and configure my classes to ensure that the courses I take will keep me on the right track for my degree.
A big challenge I had during my first week, specifically on my first day of classes, was not being able to find my last class of the day due to mistranslations on the syllabus. Even though my classes are taught in English, for the majority of my professors, their first language is not actually English. Therefore, there is still some form of language barrier that presents itself in various ways. I found myself at a complete loss as to where the classroom was and after trying all of my options- I was not able to go to the first class meeting! Thankfully, the professor was understanding and explained what the correct building actually was after shooting them an email.
Additionally, due to the different air quality (i.e. dust/pollen) my sinus allergies have been flaring up. For the entire week I was having difficulties breathing and sleeping due to sinus congestion. After a couple days (and struggling with constant sniffing during class) I decided that it was time to take a trip to the pharmacy. I was fairly nervous about this; Korea’s pharmacies are different from America in how you obtain over the counter medications. Even OTC medicines require you to speak to a pharmacist technician; they are not available to grab from the shelves yourself. So in order to obtain the allergy medicine I needed, I practiced the correct way to say my symptoms in Korean and also researched what brands would be the best to go with.
After struggling with being lost on a completely new campus on the first day of classes and suffering from a completely congested sinus system, the first day and week of classes was trying but I’m feeling more optimistic now as the second week creeps along. Once again, these mishaps and bumps in the road just serve as learning experiences. With these recent events, I’ve been able to practice my decision-making and problem-solving skills that will aid me in my adventures to come.