The thoughts of an exchange student


I’m FREEEEE!!!! Finally! I just finished my Intensive Korean course for the semester, which was Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm. It consisted of FOUR hours of Korean every day, and it was an intense class indeed. The course was only ten weeks long and mostly designed for students who wanted to learn Korean for eventual entry into a Korean university and become an ordinary university student. I have classmates from U.S., Germany, Bangladesh, Uzebekistan, Japan, and many from China. The class was very daunting for an exchange student who just wanted to travel and sightsee, but at least I learned a lot more of the Korean language.

When I just finished my final exam for the Korean course, I was just happy that I passed! During the hectic week leading up to the final, I had good intentions, but much of my own advice was unheeded. I said:

1. To myself: “I’m going to study today…”

But somehow, I ended up at an amusement park, Lotte World. I went on a Saturday, which was probably the worst idea ever. The place was packed with couples and children, just like every other place in Seoul. The wait time for rides was ridiculously long, and the best rides had at least a 3 hr wait, which was no fun. It was a prime opportunity to people-watch though. Everyone there loved to wear animal ears or giant bows on their heads, including the guys. Perhaps it would have been more fun if I could go on some rides, but nonetheless, Lotte World was a pretty place. It even had an indoor iceskating rink in addition to both indoor and outdoor amusement parks.

2. To myself: “I’m going to do my homework early today…”

But then I had dinner for 1 hour, followed by an experience at a jimjilbang (Korean bathhouse) for another 3 hours. Please read my previous blog about the jimjilbang. Basically, I saw a bunch of people naked that day. When I got home, I ended up doing my homework until 4am, but hey, at least I did it.

3. On Saturday to my Korean Friend: “My exam is on Tuesday, help me practice Korean…”

But then Sunday came along where I ate for 1 hour, practiced Korean for 30 minutes, and then spent the rest of the day at the Lantern Parade. There were festivals held in celebration of Buddha’s birthday on May 28th, and one of them was the lantern parades. Different temples from Korea and other countries came and took part in the festival. Even students from different universities and hospitals walked in the parade and carried beautiful handcrafted lanterns. The street glowed with floats, dancers, drummers, and of course, lanterns.

4. To my other Korean friend: “I really should study for my exam…ummm okay, let’s go see the night view of Gyeongbokgung palace, but you must speak to me in Korean!”

In my defense, the view of the palace at night was an opportunity I could not pass up. Gyeongbokgung palace only opened up at night for visitors for four nights a year. The palace was beautifully lit up and people flocked by to take in the view and snap pictures as the water reflected a mirror image.

5. To my friends visiting me from the U.S.: “I don’t have much time to hang out and I really need to pass this class…”

But then my friends found me watching the school festival concert the day before my exam, and they caught me right in the middle of my procrastination. Like most Korean universities, Hanyang held its spring festival from Wednesday until Friday, which included an opening concert on Tuesday night. They invited celebrities and singers to the concerts, and students celebrated for 3 days by eating and drinking on campus until the early morning. The drinking age here in Korea, by the way, is 18 years old.

My response to them was “Ughhh I will study later–I won’t sleep tonight… please don’t tell my sister.”

Moral of this blog entry: I kept telling myself, “I’m not going to do anything this weekend and will study for my exam,” but 거짓말 (geojitmal = lies)! How are you supposed to study with all these activities going on?! Well, now it’s over and I did well… whoever said that you can’t have fun while studying is wrong!


4 responses »

  1. Hi Stephanie!
    i have been following your blog because I’ll be studying in Korea at Hanyang University this Fall! I’m very excited and your blog is great!! Do you think the intensive Korean class is worth it? did it stress you out? I’m stuck between taking that course or the Survival Korean course. I really want to learn the language, but I’m afraid I’ll be buried with work. what do you think?


    • Hi Nicole! I have to say finding courses that will transfer to Temple is difficult and that is why I ended up taking the Intensive Korean course. I think the intensive course is really rewarding and you learn so much in just 10 weeks. During the semester, it can be pretty stressful, but I still had enough time to play during the week and weekend. You will have 4 hours of classes Monday through Friday and each day it took me about 2-3 hours to finish the homework. The good thing about the intensive course is that it ended earlier than the normal Hanyang classes, so you will have time to travel outside of Seoul after it is over. In the end, I am really glad I took the course because it will probably transfer as a third level language and an upper level elective for me. Don’t worry–no matter what you choose to do, you will have a great time at Hanyang! Feel free to ask me anymore questions!

  2. hello!

    i am a student looking to go exchange at korea… hows hanyang university’s atmosphere? are the professors there helpful towards exchange students?

    looking forward to your reply!

  3. Hi Steph ! Thanks for that. Did you actually follow any other lectures at Hanyang university during that time?
    I’m thinking of doing an exchange there for next year, so I’d have to follow a few other courses too (business classes). However I was thinking it may be too much, in addition to the other lectures (they should be around 10 hours per week in total).
    How much of a level would that course bring me to, considering I start from scratch (or a basic level as I would start preparing on my own a few months in advance).

    Thanks !! 🙂

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