Monday, October 6, 2014

Hello/Aloha/안녕하세요 from South Korea

여러분, 안녕하세요!저는 얼재이 가윌리 입니다. 지금 대한민국에서 공부하고 있어요. 반갑습니다!
Translation: Hello, everyone! I am Earl Jay Caoile. I am now studying in South Korea. Nice to meet you!

My language classmates and I (graduation of SKKU SLI 3-week language program)

It has been a little over a month since the fall semester began in South Korea. For whatever reason, the fall semester starts at the same time as HPU, but the spring semester doesn't start until March. Oh well, that's a problem I will worry about later.

Samsung Library at SKKU Suwon Campus

Anyway, I have actually been in South Korea since August 1st of this year. I am studying at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) Natural Sciences Campus (성균관대학교자연과학캠퍼스) in Suwon. In order to more smoothly integrate myself into this country, I decided to take a 3-week language class in addition to the one semester of Korean language I took at HPU. This was done through the same school except I attended their Seoul campus. My language proficiency is definitely not enough yet, but I do have a certain edge over the majority of exchange students. If anyone else is considering studying abroad, I would recommend learning as much of the host country's language as possible.

Banpo Bridge (failed attempt at a water show - too much wind)

I noticed there is a recent post of South Korea before me so I will try not to be redundant. I think a more personal perspective will help keep things unique. I remember during the exchange student orientation a warning about culture shock. I somewhat knew what to expect coming to Korea so I was not too surprised by what I saw after arriving. The one frustrating thing about living in Korea is my lack of language proficiency. Unfortunately, that means a lot if you want to communicate with people.

Exchange Students and HI-Club Members at SKKU Orientation Party

There seem to be plenty of exchange students who are perfectly content with not learning the language here, and that totally blows my mind. The old folks in particular open up to you if you're at least making an effort to speak in their language. I was totally expecting elders to dislike foreigners, but there have been a few occasions where elders helped me out when I was lost. They did so without me even asking!

녹차 빙수탑 [nokcha bingsutap] - green tea ice cream dessert of sorts

오묵 [omuk] - fish cake

There is a lot that I could talk about, but one of the most important subjects to me is food. While Korea as a whole doesn't have tons of high-class food, they do have a lot of food, in my opinion, that is at least good. I think the real downside is that the imported foods tend to cost considerably more. As a result, it is easy to get burnt out on Korean food if you are used to the variety that Americans have. Fortunately for me, I receive a monthly housing allowance through the GI Bill, and I am not afraid to spend it on food. Nom nom nom!

Dynamic Duo (Korean hip hop group) at SKKU Fall 2014 Student Festival

I really have mixed feelings about living here, but I think at this point I would rather be in South Korea than back in Hawaii. I hate to admit it, but despite some shortcomings that SKKU may have, they put so much more effort into both their campus and the school activities for both locals and foreigners. I understand that there are budget/land restrictions that prevent HPU from doing more, but the college environment can do a lot for a student's morale.

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