There were a few nice days after a few rainy days this week so I thought I would take advantage of those and spend some time outdoors. Last time I went to Yeouido park I didn’t get to see the whole park so I went back again. I really wish this park was closer it would be an awesome place for a run. It’s got a nice path on the outside of the park and several paths running through the park as well.
I also went to 2 other Han river parks: Seonyudo and Ttokseon. Seonyudo is a little island with a botanical gardens, it was lovely; Ttokseon had a big pool and many family activities and an outdoor climbing wall.
So far all these parks have been lovely, I’ll have to check out the other ones as well. There’s one with a fountain bridge that’s in the Guinness book of records, there are fountains that come out of the bridge. I guess I’ll have to go to some of those parks at night too to get a nice few of the city lights. Well I’ve got 4 days of vacation left before school starts up again on Friday, lots to do before then.
The first week is almost finished and I fell like I haven’t done much… Granted the weather has been rather crappy most of the week, with I think only one day without rain so far.
That one day it didn’t rain I went hiking in the mountain behind Yonsei. It’s a small little mountain with the peak at only 250m but it’s walking distance from my place. It’s a rather easy climb and since it was the middle of the day when I went there weren’t very many people. I’ll have to go back again though and try the other trails on the mountain, there seemed to be quite a few according to the map. Plus if I want to do more hiking while I’m here I need to get in better shape… My legs were shaking before I even got to the lookout near the top and it was an easy climb even with some stairs in some places to make the hike easier. Here are some of the pictures I took, it did have a very nice view at the top!
I have finally completed level 1 at Yonsei’s Korean Language Institute (KLI). Now that it’s done and I am on vacation for 2 weeks until level 2 starts, I thought I’d do a recap.
I arrived in Korea about 10 days before classes started so that I could get over my jet lag and of course find a place to stay. There was a placement test prior to the start of classes as well as orientation. I decided not to take the placement test since I was sure I would not get placed in level 2, orientation was basically an overview of the student handbook which we all had a copy of so wasn’t really necessary. Before classes started on June 9 we had to find out which class we were in on the notice board at the entrance of the KLI. If I remember correctly there were 8 classes in level 1 with 12-15 students each, I didn’t really look at the other levels but I would guess it would be about the same.
I was happy to find that most students in my class spoke English so we could all communicate even though we were all from different countries. I was the only native English speaker in my class the rest of my class included: 2 Mongolians, 3 Japanese, 2 Indonesians, 1 Malaysian, 1 Hong Kong, 1 Singapore and 1 Vietnamese. There are actually two different programs at KLI which is why I was the only native English speaker in my class. The 6 level program (the one I am in) is designed for Asians whereas the 8 level program is designed for native English speakers and progresses slightly slower than the 6 level program.
Midterms took place during week 5 (6 if you consider that the first day is on a Friday). The midterm covers everything learned since day on up until right before the exam. Thankfully the way the books are designed each chapter ends with a review so the day before the exam was a review of the previous 4 sections. We were also told by the teacher as well as one of our classmates (she was redoing level 1) to do the review in the workbook as a good practice for the exam. I did a post earlier on how the exam is configured so you can see that here. The workbook review was actually very similar to the exam and helpful in preparing.
The finals take place during week 9 (10) and cover everything learned since the midterm. That is the writing and listening tests over the grammar covered since the midterm, but the vocab and grammar learned before can also be used is questions (your understanding of them however is not tested). The final exam was much more difficult than the midterm. Well actually that’s only true of the writing test, the other tests were about the same as the midterm. There are actually a few people in class who failed the writing test, most of us however had done well enough in the midterm to still pass. Grades are calculated as an average which means that even if you fail an exam (midterm or final) you can still pass the class if you had a good enough grade to compensate on the other exam.
Now that the level is finished we have 2 weeks off before the next level starts. Before the next level starts we will be sorted into our classes once again. According to our teacher we are sorted according to our grades so basically all the really good students are in the same class and the same for those with the lowest grades. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing… but I should be somewhere in the middle I think. I hope some of us from level 1 end up in the same class, that would be nice 🙂 Even if we don’t though we’ll still see each other around since about half of my classmates are continuing to level 2.
Aug 15th is a national holiday in Korea, it’s called Liberation day and commemorates the end of WW2 and Korea’s’ independence from Japan. Since we didn’t have school I wanted to do some touristing and see some of the activities that take place for this day. It reminds me a little about remembrance day and that is, for me, one of the most important days back home. From my research I found that there were two main venues for activities; independence hall and Seodeamun prison history museum. Independence hall is quite far from where I live, thankfully I live in Seodaemun so the prison museum was really close. I couldn’t really find any detailed information on events so I just went there hoping there would be some interesting activities. Even if there aren’t I can always tour the prison so nothing to lose! There were a few activities but it was pouring rain so I didn’t do much besides tour the place since most activities were outside. There was a surprising number of people considering the weather; there was about a 10 minutes wait (outside in the rain) to get in.
After finals last week I was really worried about having failed so I had to find something to do during the weekend to keep occupied and not worry too much about it. Thankfully there is a summer festival going on at the Han river, it’s been going on since mid July actually but I haven’t had much free time. It seemed like the perfect place to spend a sunny and hot summer day.
I left home around 11:30 and headed to Yeouido park. It is one of three parks on the Han river and the closest to my place so I opted for that one. This park is actually on an island on the river and there is also another really big park that spans accross the island. The island park was really nice, I didn’t explore all of it since I wanted to go to the river park. I’ll probably go back another time, it’s a pretty big park with a pond and several walking/biking paths. It’s in the middle of a bustling city but the cicadas are so loud that they almost drowned out the traffic.
I knew there were a bunch of events going on at the river since it’s the festival, but much like when I went to the National Palace museum I happened upon a traditional music/dance performance.
A man started talking to me during the performance and wanted to buy me a drink after, so we went to a near by convenience store where he also bought me lunch… Is this weird only to me? People approach strangers and buy them food, must be a Korean thing. Actually it was a little awkward since he could speak very little English and I couldn’t understand most of what he was saying. Anyways he was sticking around walking with me along the river so I told him I had to go and he walked me to the subway. I didn’t want to leave quite yet but also didn’t really know how to tell him to get lost politely so I waited in the subway for 10-15 minutes and went back to continue exploring.
I continued exploring around the river and people watching for an hour or two. Around 5:30 the many food trucks all started to set up, and oh my goodness were there a lot of food trucks. You can basically get anything you could possibly want; theres chicken, shrimp, steak, grilled cheese, churros there was even a French crepe food truck. I’ll have to go back again so I can try some of those 🙂
A few things of note about the park; though you can’t swim in the river there are several outdoor pools at the park, people at the pool and hanging out at the river mostly setup tents and hang out (I find this a little odd, but I suppose it’s a good was to get shade…), you can rent camping spots at the campground neat the river (you can also rent a tent if you don’t have one). I was there from about noon until 6 at which time I was a little tired and decided to head home. I didn’t really feel like taking the subway or bus so I walked back home. In retrospect that was a stupid idea… who walks 4km home after spending the whole day walking? Anyway I did get some really nice pictures walking back since I had to cross the bridge.
I wrote last week about the first day of finals, but then day 2 didn’t go well at all so I really wasn’t in the mood to write about it. Now I’ve gotten my results now so I guess I’ll talk about day 2.
Thw first day of finals went pretty well, you can read about it here. Day 2 like the midterms had 3 exams; writing (grammar), reading aloud, and listening. The writing test was first up. I had studied quite a bit and was relatively confident I could do well on the test. Unfortunately that impression was quite wrong, as I was writing the test I was thinking to myself “how on earth am I going to pass this, I have no idea about so many of these questions”. As I continued to write the test I was more and more convinced I would not be passing this test. The reading aloud was pretty easy, the listening test I also thought was easy and easier than the midterm. At dinner that night a few people were talking about the exam and we all thought we didn’t do well. As we discussed the exam we started to wonder if the average was what counted or if failing an exam meant you had do do the retake. You can redo an exam if you fail one of the four skills, if you fail more than one you have to redo the level.
We got our grades back today and also got to review our exams. Before giving us our grades the teacher explained how the grades worked. It is your average between the midterm and the final that is important; which means you could fail one of the two and still pass if you do well enough on the other. Most of my grades were as expected; reading went very well, listening was much worse than I expected but a pass, speaking was pretty good, and writing (as expected) was a fail. That writing exam was really hard and I think a few other people in class also failed it. However because we did well on our midterms, our final grade is a pass. There are 4 people in my class who will have to do a make up test since they failed one subject.
Though I did pass I think I will have to spend a good part of teh 2 weeks we have off reviewing and studying some more. I don’t want to arrive at level 2 and start off struggling. Thankfully one of the bloggers I follow recently posted about Korean language classes in Seoul so I’ll look into those (you can read about it here). I’m happy I passed though I am unhappy about the results of my test, I will have to put in more effort for the next level it seems. Learning Korean is harder than I thought….
Final exams started today, like midterms this exam is split over two days so we continue tomorrow. Today was the speaking and reading comprehension tests. I only had to be at school around 10 but one of my classmates asked if I wanted to come early and practice for the speaking test. That sounded like a good idea since it’s pretty hard to do speaking practice by yourself.
The speaking test didn’t go particularly well, I hesitated a lot and the teacher made me change some of my sentences a few times… Actully I’m a little worried about it, thankfully the speaking contest was worth 20% of our speaking grade so that might help bring up my grade a bit. Not much use in worring now since it’s done and we don’t get our grades back until Monday. The reading test went pretty well, but that was my highest grade on the midterm so I wasn’t too worried about it. After the two tests we had a listening practice like we did at the midterm It was easier than the midterm which I was really happy about since this was my lowest grade on the midterm. I hope the exam is really similar so that I can bring up my listening grade. Tomorrow we have 3 more exams; writing, reading out loud and listening.