Speaking contest

As part of our final grade in the speaking component we have a speaking contest in class next week, it is worth 20% of our speaking grade. The top three students in every class will later compete in a level wide contest. When the teacher first told us about it the whole class was like : “I don’t want to be in the top three!”. It’s ironic really since being in the top three means you have the top three grades in class, which from a students perspective should be a good thing. The problem is that you’ll have to do you the presentation again in front of all the students in level 1 (I’d say there are about 6 classes with 10-14 students each). So even though we all want top grade nobody wants to do their presentation twice.

We handed in our text to the teacher today and got in back corrected today, now we have to memorize it for next Thursday. I’m hoping we can still have our paper while doing the presentation since I’m not sure I can manage to remember an entire page worth of Korean… I mean it’s hard anough to memorize something in English for a presentation. I had my tutor correct my paper before handing it in, she also read it and recorded it for me so I can practice pronunciation as well. I’ll work on memorizing it this weekend so I can practice it with her next week before I have to do it in class. Actually this presentation is probaby also another reason I’ve had migraines this week as I tried to think of what to write for it…. I’ll let you all know how it goes next week.

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Short lived success and annoyances

So clearly I’ve been neglecting the blog lately, to be honest I haven’t been doing so well lately. This week has been rather crappy actually. I talked about traditonal Korean medicine before, and how it seemed to be helping my migraines. It seems that was only a short term success as this week started with a migraine both Monday and Tuesday. Classes are difficult enough without having a migraine so whenever I have one and go to class I have a really hard time concentrating and grasping what the teacher is saying. Basically whenever I have a migraine I’m pretty out of it in class.

Let’s see…. what else was there… My Korean friends have been talking to me about religion a lot lately, which I fin quite annoying since I am not at all religious. Last Friday one of my friends met me after class and she basically talked to me about religion for like 2hours, I was too polite to say I couldn’t care less so I tried to pay at least a little attention to what she was saying. That, however just made me more annoyed at the fact that I had to listen to it. I will have to tell her soon that I don’t care about that stuff since she wants to have another “mentoring session” with me again.

I also had another “religious” incident this past weekend. One of my friends from class invited me to a culture festival on Sunday, the theme was Mother. It sounded interesting and I had been spending to much time alone at home so I decided to go. It started with an exhibition about mothers in daiy life with pictures and stories, that part was ok. After that they showed us a video, it was basically a video about the church and how they are involved in the community and such. At this point I was a little confused and wondered if the friend who invited me to this knew it was this kind of thing we were coming too. But we got to talk a little between the vieo and seminar and she was as confused as me… Then there was a sort of seminar (at least that’s what they called it) which was basically a repeat of the exhibition with a little elaborating, and then there was prayer time… There was no way I was doing that since I am neither religious nor was I willing to put a veil on my head (apparently women have to put a veil on their head when they pray).

After al that on Sunday we did have a little fun and get to play a few traditional Korean games, and practice our Korean a little with a little cultural experience after the seminar. But having already been slightly annoyed at the religious thing I had on Friday, this could not have been worse timing, it just made me mad. This is probably one of the reasons I had migraines on Monday and Tuesday since I was still thinking about how annoyed I was about it. People can be religious, I have no problem with that, I do have a problem with people trying to turn me religious or trying to drag me into a church under some other pretext.

Hello Mr.K

Today we had a half day at school today because we were to attend a concert called Hello Mr. K that took place on campus. The intent of this concert is to showcase/introduce Korean culture to the students at the language school. All students were required to attend and it took place during class time. It is actually part of the language program and was a planned activity on the class schedule. This was the program for the concert; there was some traditional Korean music, Kpop, and others. It was actually a nice break from regular class, we also have very little homework today since we didn’t actually learn any new material in class today. 🙂

Traditional Korean medicine

I have been suffering from migraines for as long as I can remember; actually I don’t get headaches I only get migraines. If you’ve never experienced what a migraine is then you should be happy but let me try to explain how it affects me. Firstly, my migraines usually appear during the night (except when caused by stress), I’ll go to bed feeling fine and wake up in the middle of the night with a migraine. Second, I don’t always know what the trigger is, that is sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for me to get a migraine. Then there are other times when I overextend myself and the times where I’m stressed (like when I have exams here) those times I at least understand where the migraine comes from. So imagine a normal headache but concentrated on one side of your head in one particular spot (the right temple for me), then add a sensitivity to light and sound as well as nausea.

Sometimes I get the beginnings of a migraine and can take some over the counter meds and stop it from progressing to a full fledged migraine; sometimes it just starts off as a severe migraine, whenever that happens I go for the more heavy duty prescription meds which unfortunately don’t always work. Since I’ve arrived in Korea I’ve had several migraines, this isn’t particularly surprising since I’ve basically turned my life upside down so it was to be expected; I mean it is kind of stressful to pick up and move to another country and learn a foreign language. I mentioned nausea earlier, and although it happens often that I feel nautious during these episodes I have only actually been sick once back home. Since arriving here I’ve had two severe migraines both times I took some prescription meds to no avail and was also sick. Thankfully I seem to have been able to determine when I will be sick so I didn’t make a mess, both times I remained nautious for several hours after and was unable to eat. I did eventually eat but I was more or less useless during these two days. Thankfully one of those was on the weekend, the other was during the week and I managed to drag myself to class but it was very difficult. On a good day learning Korean is hard so when you aren’t sure if you might have to run out of class and be sick again it certainly doesn’t help.

Back home I did discuss this problem with my doctors but nothing seems to work to prevent or even sometimes treat the occurences of my migraines. I figured since I’m in Korea I may as well try some traditional medicine and see if that might have an impact, I can;t keep having migraines like the past two… I didn’t want to just randomly find a clinic so I talked to my Korean friends about it and they found a clinic close to my place, iher father knows the Dr there. Thankfully my friend came with me (the Dr doesn’t speak English at all), actually she came with me a few times which I appreciate enormously. We went over my migraines and my insomnia too and I’m now doing some accupuncture as well as taking some traditional Korean medicine (tkm). That stuff is disgusting by the way, very bitter! So far I’ve seen a difference even with my exams that just passed I only had a minor migraine and managed to get rid of it with just one prescription pill, of course that’s besides the tkm.

Today I went to the clinic by myself for the first time and put some of my Korean into practice. The Dr and I managed to communicate fairly well so that was nice, I did have to go over what I wanted to say to him before getting there otherwise I probably would have blanked… Oh and because the Dr knows my friend he’s giving me 50% off so a session is less than 12$ for accupuncture and muscle release (basically a massge machine) which I definately needed lately.

Grades and a tutor :)

OK, the moment of truth…

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I passed, woohooo! Actually if I had failed I would have been surprised, ok and probably pissed since I spent most of the weekend and Monday afternoon studying. I guess all that work paid off, now to continue and improve and strive for better grades and aim for the scholarship at the end of the semester!

Last week in class the teacher asked us if we were interested in having a tutor to help us, that sounded good to me since I have been feeling like I’m struggling a little so I said yes. About half the class said they were interested in a tutor. At the begining of the first exam day we were told we had a meeting with our tutors the following day after class. There were quite a few people that had wanted a tutor it seems. Originally I believe all the tutoring was suppose to be one on one but because of the high number of applicants some people were paired together. Those that were paired were paired by country, probably so it would be easier for the tutor.

I lucked out I suppose since I got a tutor all to myself 😀 I met her today after the exams, she is a university student and is studying to be a teacher (I think this is the case of all the tutors), this is the first time she is tutoring someone for Korean though. We had a little interview to find out what I want to work on and how often/when we will meet. Thankfully her English is very good she did try to speak to me in Korean but I just couldn’t figure out what she was saying 😦 Anyway she seems very nice and I’m sure it’ll help me a lot, we will meet twice a week for now. We start next week and I will also send her my grades so she has an idea how I’m doing. She also wanted to see my exam but I’ll have to ask the teacher about that one, I’m not sure they’ll let me take pictures of it to send to her…

Midterms… Done!

OK, so midterms are done! According to one of my classmates who is redoing level one we should get our grades back tomorrow. I don’t think I did particularly well, but I don’t think I failed either. Guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure.

Midterms at Yonsei test all 4 skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking here is a bit of a breakdown on how the tests are conducted. Firstly the tests are broken down over two days and during that time there is one free study period and one practice listening test, during these two periods the teacher is present so any last minute questions can be asked then.

The first test was the speaking test, we drew lots to see what order we would go in and were only required to show up at school 5 minutes before our alloted time. The speaking test is basically a small interview that puts into practice most of the grammar and vocabulary we’ve learned in class, it lasts about 10mins/person. Next was the reading comprehension test; you read a text in Korean text (based on the textbook readings) and answer questions relating to the text, there were 5 texts with I think 5 questions each. The last period on the first day was the listening practice. I was really worried about this test because whenever we do listening exercises in class the conversations are way to fast and I basically only answer maybe 2/5 questions, even after listening to the recording three times. I was looking forward to this practice to see what the test would be like the following day. It turns out the recordings were much better speed wise and I was able to answer almost all the questions during the practice. After the listening practice that was the end of day one.

Day two of midterms started with the free study period, we had 40mins to study and ask the teacher questions. After that came the pronunciation test, we were given a text and had to read it out loud in front of the whole class. The texts were slightly different for each person and took excerpts from the readings in the reading book so we had already read it before. The next period had the writing or grammar test, which is sort of self explanatory I think. The final test was the listening test, we listen to a recording and have to answer questions on the recording. The biggest problem is that most of us can’t listen and read at the same time yet so you kind of have to read all the posible answers before the recording starts. This of course isn’t possible since we are given the exam paper and the recording starts right away. There are several pauses which are decently long which give you some time to do this but not for the whole thing.

Here’s how I think it went… I think I did ok in all the tests, not as well as I would have liked but I don’t think I failed either. The speaking test was pretty straight forward except that I couldn’t think of anything to say when the teacher asked me to say 5 things about one of my Korean friends, so she had to prompt me with questions. The reading comprehension went well I’m not worried about that one at all. The pronunciation test also went well I, like everyone else, read slowly and had a hard time with the numbers. The numbers are hard because depending on what you’re using the numbers for you are either using the Korean numbers or the Sino Korean (Chinese) numbers. Obvioulsy so that we would practice the numbers were written as numbers but you had to say them in Korean using the appropriate number system, I think a lot of us still need to count on our fingers so there was always a pause whenever there were numbers in the text.  The grammar test also went pretty well but there were a few words that were used that I couldn’t remember. The listening test was the hardest for me, each recording has several questions associated to it so as you listen you have to answer all the questions. The recorings are all played twice with a pause in between but it was still hard. I found it harder than the practice test, but I think (or hope maybe…) that I did ok. You’ll all get an update when I get my grades 🙂

Midterms

Midterms are coming up next week and what we’ve been learning lately has been rather difficult so I will most likely just be studying and not posting much until the midterms are over. The exams at Yonsei are in four parts, there is an exam for each of the language skills: writing, reading, speaking and listening.

I’m not exactly sure how it works but the exams take place over two days and basically anything learned during the semester is fair game. We also have full classes up until the day before the exams so you just basically have to study all the time to make sure you keep up with everyting we learn. Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been lagging behind a little so I feel like I need to study quite a bit in order to do well on the midterms.

One of my goals is to get a scholarship (which covers 50% of tuition) so in order to hopefully be recommended by my teacher for that I’ll have to be at the top of the class. Perhaps it’s a little ambitious on my part especially since I’m not taking the courses designed for native English speakers, but I’ve always liked a challenge so we’ll see how that goes.