In other news, I’ve recently been feeling very discouraged by my lack of Korean proficiency (for no apparent reason either, is the worst part!), and like I’m not doing nearly enough for my language study.
I’m frustrated that I still don’t have any actual (non-Yalie) Korean friends.
I’m frustrated that I only have one language partner despite having contacted SO. MANY. PEOPLE.
I’m frustrated that I don’t have a posse to just talk to me all the time.
I’m frustrated that I can’t just fall in love with someone because people keep telling me that’s the best way to learn a language, and I’ve seen the results.
I’m frustrated that the internet in my apartment is still not working.
I’m frustrated that the samulnori people never got back to me.
I’m frustrated that KU’s website is confusing and I can’t tell if my helper application actually went through.
I’m frustrated that we haven’t heard about the tutors Yale is supposedly providing. (It’s the first day and I need to calm down, but.)
I’m frustrated that I don’t have a functional MP3 player.
I’m frustrated that I haven’t found a single Korean show that doesn’t drive me insane.
I’m frustrated that pretty much everyone I meet speaks better English than I speak Korean.
I’m frustrated that people compliment my Korean when I use difficult words like “Hello.”
I’ll end this here, but did you guys know I was voted Most Optimistic for high school senior superlatives?
On a happier note, I had a nice weekend. Jake, Mahir, and I spent Saturday night in a jjimjilbang. I had dinner with Emily last night at a restaurant that’s been featuring on a popular food show. And I saw Keith from Seoulistic today.
"빨개요 (RED)" - HYUNA
This has been MY. JAM. since I saw part of it performed at the TV show filming.
The original video is generating a lot of controversy over here. Since YouTube has flagged it, I figured it may be a bit inappropro for a school blog, but I guess if you want to see it click here.
Because I fear these half-finished posts I have will never make it onto my blog, and because I find myself constantly wanting to reference events I have yet to describe to you all, I’m just going to briefly write up everything of interest that has happened in one post:
It’s all good, y’all. Miriam is in my class, too! Determined to find that man who underestimated me and laugh at him and tell him HE looks like beginner level
because I have problems.
Admittedly I was initially unsure whether I really wanted to start at Level 5 and finish with the Advanced Research Class in the spring, versus starting at Level 4 and finishing with Level 6 (the last level of the regular language program), but since three of the other Yalies are starting at Level 5 with me, I feel like a research class with the four of us is bound to be a blast!
On an unrelated note, a random woman flashed me a thumbs up and told me I was attractive this afternoon, so it’s been a good day.
Since I’m sitting in a cafe with nothing in particular to, I’ve decided to try something new and blog about my day right away, wow!
The opening ceremony/orientation for KU was very similar to Ewha’s in that they read several announcements, first in Korean, then Chinese, Japanese, and English (read: boring). Afterwards we were instructed to write Korean self-introductions that would be part of our placement. So truth be told I did not prepare very much for this test, and I kind of regret not having anticipated the need to do a 자기소개. I just kind of threw something really basic together.
After finishing our self-introductions, we were instructed to wait in one of three rooms depending on our (self-assessed) proficiency level. KU considers Levels 3 and 4 to be intermediate and Level 5 and above to be advanced, and as someone likely either proceeding to Level 5 or re-doing Level 4, I wasn’t sure which room to wait in. I told one of the staff I wasn’t sure where to go. He took one glance at my paper and told me “You seem like intermediate.” I wanted to snatch his hair out, because he DIDN’T EVEN READ IT and see that I had included a bunch of grammar from Level 4, but at the same time I wasn’t in the mood to be confrontational. So I sat in the intermediate room waiting for the exam, but here’s the plot twist. Future Light fellows take note: KOREA UNIVERSITY HAS NO PLACEMENT TEST. I remembered Kelsey (who studied there this summer) mentioning that the placement was determined by a brief written portion followed by an interview, but I did not expect the self-introduction to be the only written thing we were graded on. If I’d know that I would have put lots lots lots more effort into it. Alas.
My interview actually started REALLY well. I was asked why I started learning Korean, and I think I spoke the best I’ve ever had, partially because I’ve given this answer several time before, and partially because I’d just written my answer almost word for word in my self-introduction. There was an obvious drop in fluency from that point on. She asked me all these random questions like what kind of job I’d like to have, how I’d help a friend who was having a hard time living in Korea, how I want to divvy up parenting roles between me and my spouse when I get married, differences between American and Korean culture, etc. and I tended to give really short answers. Mine also went really quickly - I started and finished mine within the time it took Mahir and Frances to do theirs. We’ll find out our placements by Friday, but I’m not feeling too optimistic.
Today was the first time all of the yearlong Korea fellows were together (yes, the six of us are ALL studying at KU), so we decided to go out for lunch and bingsu together afterwards. Twas quite fun.
I should also mention: part of the reason I chose Korea University is because they have an internship program. When I had my internship interview last week I got some potentially really really good news, but I’m afraid to jinx things so I’ll leave it at that~
I’m still alive!
I moved into my new place on Wednesday, but unfortunately I have not yet been able to connect to the internet there. So for now, my internet access is limited to when I go to this nearby cafe and order a Caramel Twist, which is essentially liquid caramel and the best thing I have ever drunk.
Korea University starts TODAY! In less than an hour, in fact.
Hopefully I’ll get this internet thing fixed and you’ll be hearing a lot more from me soon. Until then, enjoy this picture I stole from Aimy’s blog.
Okay, sorry for posting all these things at once, but I want to continue this tradition of sharing Korean music, and since this song is about (mid)summer I need to post it before it’s too late!
"한여름밤의 꿀 (A Midsummer Night’s Sweetness)" - San E, 레이나
From the Closing Ceremony
(I’ve discovered I don’t really like to put pictures in text posts)
Wednesday was my very last day at Ewha - the 2014 summer semester closing ceremony. A lot of the audience seemed to be not very into it (as evidenced by the two girls sitting in front of me who took no fewer than 100 selfies, I kid you not), but I found it relatively touching.
Without going into too much detail, the closing ceremony also serves as the graduation ceremony for the students in Level 6, which is Ewha’s highest level. Observations about the graduating class:
- There were only 19 people total in the two classes of Level 6. For contrast, in Level 4, my class alone had 15.
- No guys graduated.
- Only one of the girls was not from Asia. Coincidentally, she happened to be a black American, so I was like HEYY REPRESENT - that’s gonna be me one day!
The ceremony included presentations from all four of the Dongari, including two songs from the Norae Dongari, and the much anticipated Dance Dongari performance, featuring my friend Ace who is training to become a professional dancer here!! They did not disappoint.
After the ceremony, we all grabbed food in the lobby and took it up to our classrooms, where we had lunch as a class, took pictures, and got our certificates. It was bittersweet knowing it was the last time we would all be together as a class, but it was nice to hear about everyone’s plans for life post-Level 4. A few of my classmates are returning to their home countries, a few are going to begin attending Korean universities, but most of them are continuing on the Level 5. 여러분, 화이팅!
이 선생님 revealed to us that she’s going to be spending the next 6-12 months teaching in Costa Rica! Casual! This is the third country she’ll be teaching in, and she explained that her goal is to get to know the various cultures of the world while teaching Korean, one country at a time.I feel like that’s the kind of life I want to live.
Anyhoo. It was sweet. One girl even cried.
One of my missions this summer has been to befriend this guy who works at one of the bubble tea stores near Ewha, so after the ceremony I went to pay him a final visit. We ended up chatting for close to an hour. Plus, after realizing that we’re both going to be in Boston around Christmas time, we agreed to meet up in the States and exchanged Facebook information.
Feeling on a roll, around dinner I texted Jisu, the pizza guy I befriended earlier this summer. He and I had been saying for quite some time that we should meet up, so I decided I’d stop by his pizza place again. It ended being a sort of busy night for him (he had to pop out a few times to make deliveries on a motorcycle!!), but it was nice to see him again, and we made tentative plans to actually hang out this upcoming week. I also completely forgot to pay for my pizza. I texted him as soon as I realized this, and he was very chill about it, so I can already tell this friendship will have its benefits :P
In addition to my Level 4 diploma, the other important document I received Wednesday was my Alien Registration Card!! Super exciting because now I can get a Korean phone, and a Korean bank account, and it just makes this study abroad experience feel that much more real. On a side note, that goes to show how long my posting lull has been going on - one of my unfinished posts is from the day I went to apply for it.
So yeah, that was Wednesday, and things don’t start up again until KU’s orientation on the 27th. My first four days of vacation have been spent looking for an apartment, which has been exhausting at best and horrifying when I opened one bathroom door and a HORDE OF ROACHES CAME OUT. My biggest challenge (besides the obvious one of trying to handle all of this housing stuff by myself while being unable to speak Korean) has been working around the astronomical $3-5000 deposits all of these places require, but I think I’m making progress and hope to be able to sign a contract this week. I’ve got a meeting with the bright and early tomorrow morning. Which reminds me that I should be asleep.
Before I go, mini-goals for the remainder of my vacation: I’ve got three(?) more half-written posts I’d like to crank out, as well as my Ewha review/end of program report. And maybe I’ll get in some 국내여행 if time allows.