Saturday, September 22, 2012

오래간만이에요! [It's been a while!]

안녕하세요~ Hello from Yonsei University!

First off, I'd like to apologize for my absence these past few weeks!  I promise to update my blog A LOT more often than I have been.

Anyways, school has been in session for three weeks now.  I'm taking 13 credits this semester:  International Management, Strategic Management, Korean Language, and Taekwondo.  Now I know some students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are always complaining about the course registration process and not being able to get the classes they want, but the enrollment process here at Yonsei University is far more difficult than what I am used to back home.  There are three periods of adding and dropping classes and if you miss those, you are pretty much stuck with the schedule that you have.  Luckily, I got enough courses that I am pretty sure will transfer back for me so I am happy!  I have met some exchange students though, who unfortunately not able to get many classes that they were hoping for.

I am happy to report that the classes here, or at least the classes that I am in, are very good and I'm learning a lot.  Not only about the actual content of the courses and the textbooks, but also about education in many different cultures.  In my business classes, there are a handful of exchange students from many countries but also many South Koreans as well.  In both of those classes, we have a lot of group work and I have never been so thankful that much of the world views English as a standard and strives to learn and use English everyday.  Even though most of my group members are Korean, for the most part they can speak English very well. I have met so many people here that are bilingual, trilingual, or even more!  It's truly amazing and I wish that the United States education system really put more of an emphasis in foreign language.

Korean class is every weekday from 4pm to 6pm and it's going well.  On Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we have one teacher to go through new lessons in our textbook; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have another teacher to do more reading, writing, and speaking practice.  It's not too overwhelming yet and being in Korea definitely helps with learning the Korean language, but many people in the Greater Seoul Area speak English so sometimes I don't get as much outside practice with the language as I would like.

Taekwondo class is every Thursday morning for two hours.  But that is just the class that I am getting credit here for.  I have also enrolled in an evening Taekwondo course, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings from 7pm to 8:30pm.  I have always wanted to learn martial arts and this has been a fun way to do so!  I'll be testing for my yellow belt in a week or two.

As for extra-curricular activities, all exchange students are already a part of Yonsei Global, which is a club run by Yonsei University students.  They put on many different events and activities for us and we really get out what we want from it.  They do things such as Korean cultural experiences, photography excursions, company tours, movie nights, language exchange, free language classes, and even have a soccer team!  So far, I've been involved in a lot of the activities as this feels like one of the only opportunities I have to meet and develop friendships with Korean students.

In Seoul, physical looks seem to play a big part in everyday life, not saying it's a good or bad thing.  But taekwondo and soccer have been good at keeping me active here!  Our campus is on a mountain too and there are some hiking paths that lead through many forest exercise parks to the top of the mountain.  So far, I've lost about 3 kg (roughly 7 pounds) so hopefully by the end of the semester, I'll really fit in here!! :)

Here are some pictures of the mountain and the view of Seoul from the top with a couple of new friends from Seattle, Washington and Copenhagen, Denmark!  I went a couple times and it's very nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and actually get some semi-fresh air (something I take for granted in Hawaii, our air is seriously so clean!!).

I will be back soon to post more!!  Hope you are all doing well!

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