Hi guys! I haven’t posted in a while. There’s a reason for that…. Well, right now, I am in South Korea. For what? FOR SUMMER EXCHANGE!
There are so many things to tell you about how I felt, and of course, things to take note.
The Global Collaborative Summer Programme sounded really interesting. The modules/courses they offered were rather varied, and as a Sociology major, most (if not all) were related to my major. Hence, I really had trouble choosing the two courses. It came down to two courses – North Korea: The Hermit Kingdom and Culture and Society of Modern East Asia. (Quite wanted to take Korean Language I or Taekwondo… but the former is full and the latter… I shy luh!)
However… good things do end, because coordinating and retrieving information about the courses, exam format as well as course codes (NTU had really strict course matching procedures so all information had to be in!) were really disorganised. Information was not readily available and updated until a month and a half before the programme started. It felt frustrating, because my coordinator from NTU and the Kyung Hee University coordinator was slow in replying my emails too!
Honestly, it is not their fault. My school’s coordinator is managing all the students who are outgoing to South Korea for their exchange, so I do understand the frustrations. Plus, I realised that Ms Minae Kim was the only coordinator from KHU who replied my emails. So understanding that I am the type who likes clear information… multiply that by a lot of students, the replies were really slow. However, these could be avoided if the information was provided earlier and clearer.
Update: there were other staff, so I think the heavy incoming load of students made the process much slower! Even though there are lots of staff working on it! It is a little frustrating if you need to apply for a visa to enter South Korea! (3Jul2017) So heads up, prepare all your documents beforehand and summarise all your questions into one email so that they will not have fragments of your queries. 🙂
This frustrated me a lot. There are 3 dorms available for this Summer Programme. You are not allowed to choose the dormitories, which is understandable because this would cause people to be fussy and whatnot. However, the fussiness is real. The curfew times for Sewha Hall was so absurd. 12am-5am, the gates are locked. Sure, not all of us stay out till that late, but really… Plus, we cannot cook in the room (which is okay)… but there is no pantry or cooking area, which is really unaccommodating for students who have dietary restrictions! At the very least, have a pantry?
Don’t start on the lack of information on how the dorms look like. I will hopefully upload a video about how my room from I-House II looks like. There is not much information on the rooms itself! P.S. I was initially put into Sewha Hall, but requested a change due to the rules and regulations.
Boring… Orientation Programmes
I’m not expecting a camp, but the diversity seems very Westernised. It’s hardly Korean anymore, which probably explains the gothic buildings. The buildings are beautiful, by the way, but the programmes are dead boring. I signed up for both the Korean Culture Week (which of course, no information was provided about where exactly and what we are doing and WHEN we are doing them) and the Seoul City Tour (which is tomorrow and I will pull out of it because I have visited 3/4 of where they are going).
I wish there was an activity that the school could go to, which had only school based activities (where the public won’t get to do). At least the students won’t feel bored, and probably the faculty won’t be too?
But I have to give props to the orientation day which we had today. It was rather short and sweet, and the Taekwondo team did a fantastic job showing the culture of South Korea to us. I dare say that 99% of us were really impressed and in awe with the talented team. Mind you, this is coming from a dead-on “I’m proud of being Malay”.
The food at the cafeteria was good but I doubt I will have lunch there frequently. Didn’t go to the Campus tour nor the E-mart tour (because I went twice already on my own with friends).
I was not pleased at the condition of the room in any way. I got the first floor, which was fine. However, the room was really dusty. Perhaps I was pampered by Japanese standards, but I knew that my Malay innards just couldn’t stand it. So I spent quite a bit on cleaning supplies and thoroughly scrubbed surfaces of the room and bought 2 room mats – one for the entrance, and one for the toilet. I just wanted the space to be clean and homey, because me and my roommate are going to stay here for a month. The room wasn’t in the best condition, even though they claimed that the I-House recently had a renovation. Maybe they were referring to I-House I…
Things to note about I-House II or I:
- Internet connection
There is only wireless internet connection on the first floor. Such poor marketing – the brochure said that every room had internet connection. LIARS. Other floors have very weak signal and you are advised to get your own internet service provider. Get a SIM card from the airport that has unlimited data for USD100-150. Tether the internet from your phone. I didn’t get that SIM card because I stay on the ground floor and I bought Starhub’s DataTravel for when I am out of campus and hostel.
- They are segregated by gender.
If I am not wrong, I-House I houses the guys and II houses the females. Yeah, they have CCTV so no hanky panky, unless you go the same way. You know what I mean.
- Card Entrance to Building, PIN code to room
DON’T LOSE YOUR CARD. 20,000 won.
- Separate your trash
They separate trash according to recyclables, food wastes and general wastes. Easier than Japan but still a bit more mafan. You’ll get used to it and start to realise that you shouldn’t invest in the consumerist culture because of this. Maybe it’s just me….but I did think of it that way.
Other South Korean travel tips…
Get them from a convenience store. Unlike Singapore and Japan, the card cannot be purchased at the topping up machine. You have lots of choices for the cards. No worries.
They are ruthless, vile… (but can be sweet too, depending on who you talk to). THEY PUSH YOU ON THE TRAIN. You can never be too sure if you’re blocking the way until you get pushed around physically.
- Buses are comfortable but bumpy
- Train rides on Line 1 is shit. Always crowded. It’s peak period every day all day for that line. Hoegi is on it. Damn.
- South Korea has escalators but 50% of the time they don’t work. They don’t have lifts so you jolly well have to carry all of your stuff up. Japan on one hand is not very hilly on its on, but Korea is Korea.
It is not that I didn’t like how my stay is so far, pertaining to Kyung Hee University. I just didn’t felt… welcomed or have necessary thoughts to feel the pro “idealism” of this university. I wished that KHU had organised their information better. Some of my friends were lost at the airport and couldn’t find the coordinators. It was tough as some of us never visited South Korea or are as fan-crazy as other students. We just wanted more guidance, and I wish this programme had much more support from the school. It is a good programme if they had a set model in mind and were much more prepped.