dear everyone who would like to study in South Korea.
I major in Business Administration and thank goodness for that I can have half of my classes in English because they normally have certain classes taught in English for the foreign exchange students. but the thing is, these classes run out. you might think that being able to speak in English would be a plus for you and that you’d definitely score in those classes because Koreans are bad in English.
and that is where you are wrong.
there are a huge portion of them who don’t speak Korean. but at least a quarter of them speaks or write better than you and me. they have been forced by their parents to attend English speaking schools, study overseas, live overseas for a few months/years, go to English tuition centers or just study loads of English. that’s what they do. and they are better than anyone could ever expect. NEVER underestimate Koreans for their English. and these are the kids who would sign up for the English classes. I know many Koreans from the country side (most of them do not speak English very well =S. but I’m sure most of them had a better childhood. haha.) whom had registered in a few English classes but pulled out first day because the Koreans inside those classes speaks fluent English. (every student must take at least 3 classes in English in 4 years. that’s why.) hence, studying in English will be like studying with the super smart students from the smart. and it wouldn’t be easy as well.
then, we have the bell graph grading system where they grade you relatively. what I meant was, out of the 60 people you have in your class, only 30% of them are eligible to get the A or A+ grade. which means, only 18 over 60 people whom are geniuses will be able to get an A. and another 30-35% gets a B or B+ and the rest will range from C, D, and F. if you’re a foreigner, you’re practically doomed in the Korean classes. bitch please, I got around 90 in some test and got a B+. hahahahahaaaaa. it was an English subject and the test was MCQ. imagine, these kids are the top students of South Korea and they battle their way in to these prestigious universities. even if half of them are lazy, half of them study very very very hard. which explains the 24hour libraries. I only used to go to the 24 hour library in Yonsei because it was close to my house and it was always very packed even at 2am. I am now one month into my semester and the library’s half full the last time I left it at 8PM. so if they are studying through midnight at the library, you need to double their amount. and that means no sleep at all. I’m practically a living dead. my eye-bags are so deep I need no on-purpose eye-bag surgery. except I look horrible with eye-bags.
if you plan to fight with these genius Korean people IN the Korean language, getting an A is almost like getting yourself to land on the moon.
DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT take online subjects where the tests are in multiple choice questions. because Koreans memorize things rather perfectly. they are like machines. so always opt for those which requires a lot of thinking rather than memorizing.
some subjects are in bloody Hanja. like for me, I had to take this class which studies the Analects of Confucianism. everything the teacher wrote on the board were in Korean traditional writings. it’s the same with the traditional Chinese characters (China uses the simplified ones now. so, imagine.) and everything that’s taught in the class sounds very aliena to me. it’s good for the Chinese students as they could probably understand if not all, most of it easily. still, competing with Koreans who knows at least a little bit of Hanja is MADNESS. I’m only looking forward for a pass.
the average results for foreigners in my school was C+ and only 1/3 foreigners manage to graduate (apparently. I was told.)
there are assignments for almost every class and if not, you’d have to read 20-80 or more pages of the textbook to prepare for a class. that’s where all your time will go to. and those aren’t studying, it’s merely just preparing.
some teachers do not like foreigners (who look Asian).
people get annoyed listening to English sometimes. cafe owners might tell you to keep your volume down even if you speak at the same volume as the Korean people sitting at the table next door. especially old people, so you’d get scolded at least for a few times if you stay here long enough.
you’re always the black sheep in presentations. unless your Korean is super duper fluent like every other Korean. which is almost impossible if you’ve only learned Korean for less than 2 years.
you get not much social life because there’s literally not much time for it. other than during summer and winter holidays where you’d be suddenly so free you wish you were in school. there’s not much time to hang out. because if you go out, you’ll spend too much time on transportation already. unless you’re hanging out at your area, which would be boring. but the good thing is, there would actually be enough time to slip in 2-3 hours for dramas and another 1-2 hours for you to chat with your friends.
thinking about going to concerts or “bumping” into celebrities outside their dorms? you wish.
that’s of course possible if you do not care about your grades.
there’s no midterm break. so right after sleepless nights studying for midterms, you will need to rush for assignments and presentations right after.
“no matter how hard it is I’ll be able to survive though it. I’m good at taking stress.” that was what I thought when I first came. I was wrong. I do break down and cry because I felt so helpless. that no matter how hard I try I will never be comparable to the Koreans here. but I just forgot to remind myself that, it is already hard enough to study in a foreign land in a totally foreign language. so why should I compare. =S.
one tip on getting better results? well, go to schools outside of Seoul. as Seoul gathers all the smartest students. you’ll probably be able to live a happy life outside of Seoul. (well not including the A-listed schools and Seoul schools that has campuses out of Seoul). but I do have a very hardworking friend who sat for the Korean SAT 3 times just to get into a decent school. and such a student is already studying in the more popular school that isn’t located in school. so I’ll leave the thinking for you.
well, there are plenty of nice things about studying in Korea. like the beautiful 4 seasons and glorious restaurant and cafes. and amazing clothes. but I’m not sure if that’s a good enough trade for all the stress.