After our first week in Korea, classes were about to start. The day before class, I heard that some others in the group got their textbooks. I thought it would be good preparation to get textbooks in advance. Although it was a rainy day, Niki, Waves, and I decided to go immediately because it was already about 5 pm. I was surprised that the university store was still open. The store was in the SK future hall, to the left of the Main Building. We made a big effort to find it because it was tucked in a corner. Luckily, Jackson was already there and gave us crucial guidance. Otherwise, who knows if we would have found it! On the way back, we took a different route that we thought would be closer but ended up travelling a long way in the rain.
The first day of class was on day nine of our trip (13/12/2022) and came with beautiful snow. I was excited to make my first visit to the Korean Language Centre to begin my first day of class. I left extra early to leave plenty of time to find my classroom, connect to the Wi-Fi etc. Nothing was too complicated, so I had plenty of time to look around and get ready.
My class has nine students from various countries and backgrounds: China, Norway, Yemen, Russia, Thailand, Mongolia and France. I have four hours of class every day from 1:45 pm to 5:45 pm because I was placed in the afternoon class. Each class is 50 minutes long, and we have two teachers. The first teacher teaches the first two classes, and the second teaches the other two classes. There is a 10-minute break between every class except for the middle break (after the first two classes), which is 20 minutes.
Classes are communication-based as we have a lot of speaking activities with other classmates. We also switch seats every week so that we get to know other classmates more when doing speaking exercises. Surprisingly, the teachers don’t use much English to explain the content, but everything is still easy to understand. Prior to this trip, I had already heard that Korean letters (Hangul) are pronunciation-based. I didn’t fully understand what it meant until I started learning the language. Every alphabet is pronunciation-based and joins together to form a character, which is completely different to my first language (Chinese). Despite experiencing many differences in the languages I have learned, I didn’t feel that Korean was too difficult, and the content was all easy to follow.
Apart from classes, I continued to hang out with other PM scholars and my friends from class. I went with Wendy, Miki and Niki to Myeongdong again, where we had our first Korean BBQ in Korea. I also went with Zoe and some friends from class to Ikseon-dong, an area famous for its traditional Korean buildings, similar to Insadong. We had a group BBQ first, and Zoe and I went to a very popular authentic Korean cafe called Cheongsudang. Overall, I became more familiar with the environment and more confident to explore more