Academics in Korea

 

Now I thought it was appropriate to dedicate a blog to the academics here in Korea because technically I came here to study business. Their system for registering and classroom style is very similar to what I am used to. However, the main problem is that the when you sign up for your classes everything is in Korean. Like I mentioned earlier, you are given a Korean buddy and they are supposed to help you with obstacles like this. The University said they will be working on offering an English website because they really encourage international students to attend their University. In addition, the UWINS (same thing as Ecompanion) is in Korean, so the assignments and power points that you need to obtain can be a difficult task. Although this is extremely inconvenient the professors here are more than willing to help the international students. My Management Information Systems professor sent me a pdf file of an English version of the UWINS website so that I could easily manage it.

Main Building of the University of Ulsan

Speaking of the professors here, they really enjoy having an international student in their classroom. They typically will call you out and ask for your opinion and how it relates to your country. I have noticed that when the professor asks a questions and he is expecting a response the Koreans are apprehensive to answer. Most times the international students will answer. I believe the reason for this is because Korean students are not used to an interactive classroom style. In high school, they rarely were required to do presentations or voice their opinion. They just simply listened to lectures and were extremely shy to even ask questions. I was told all of this from my LATU groups and it makes sense why they are so quiet in class. Another shocking thing I found out about Korean education system that was in high school they attended school from 7 am to 10 or 11 pm and on Saturdays attended private lessons from 9am to 6 pm. This truly was mind-blowing for me. My students were extremely envious of how American high schools are. One positive that comes out of their high school education system is that they are diligent students who have incredible study habits. Yet, they lack communication skills and ways to express themselves to authority. Now universities in Korea are assigning more presentations and encourage students to interact during class. Some students have adapted but the majority is still silent during class.

Furthermore, the classes are significantly easy for a native English speaker. Most of the classes at the University are taught in Korean so when Korean students sign up for an English course they want to improve their English. I have met students who are able to understand English but can barely make a conversation. The professor generally speaks slowly and explains every concept 2 or 3 times. Therefore, for me the class pace is particularly slow and can even become boring due to the repetitiveness. I was assigned to a group project where we would have to present it to the class and 3 of the students could not communicate in English with me. I am not entirely sure if they couldn’t talk with me or if they were just too afraid. They claimed that they were just in the class to try and improve their English. I communicated with one other student who spoke decent English and we practically did the whole presentation. This did not bother me because the assignment was easy and I was able to get through to the other students what we should do for the project. In a way, they automatically designate you as the leader of the group solely on the fact that I am a native English speaker. I noticed that they really hang on every word you say and it is uncommon for them to disagree with what I say. I think this again has to do with the way their education system is set up.

Although there have been many obstacles I had to overcome and adjust to a completely different culture I in no way discredit this University. They truly care about their students and hire knowledgeable professors. It has a beautiful campus that is near the city center. My classes are all in the same building and my dormitory is only a five minute walk from the business building. If one is coming to a University half way across the world you must expect challenges but if you are able to conquer them then you will feel more independent than ever.

Campus during spring time

Learn and Teach in Ulsan

Learn and Teach in Ulsan(LATU) is a program that Ulsan University offers to native English speakers. The purpose of this program is to tutor English to university-level Korean students. The university dedicates themselves to offering English programs for the Korean students. I have talked to other Korean students who did not get a LATU position and they explained to me how upset they were. The LATU is a huge competition among the Korean students. They have to take a TOIEC (Test of English for International Communication) and participate in intensive interviewing process. There desire to speak English fluently is mind-blowing. The study hours on end, pay enormous amounts of tution fees for studying abroad in English speaking countries, and desperately try to make conversation with English speakers. After getting to know a several Koreans who commit to learning English for multiple years, I feel very blessed that English is my first language.

 

During our orientation when they were explaining our job duties, it seemed to good to be true. You have two groups of 4 students with all different levels of English skills and are required to teach 8 hours a week plus 2 hours of Global Lounge Activity hours. Those two hours you just have to simply sit in the Global Lounge, which is where all the the tutoring classes take place and any Korean student can come up and ask you questions about their homework or sit and have a conversation.This

This picture here is taken in the Global Lounge Center with my first group. These are where 80% of your tutoring sessions will take place. Once a month you get the chance to engage in an outdoor activity. With my second group they wanted to take me to a traditional Korean restraunt. They always warn me how spicy the food is and are shocked when I can eat kimichi. Every time I eat with Koreans they are so worried that I will not be able to handle their food. I just laugh because I really enjoy spicy food! Below is a picture of my second group and I at the Korean restraunt.

Below is what kimchi looks like. It is a pickled cabbage that is served with every single meal. My Korean friends told me that kimichi is typically too spicy for foriegners, but I find it tasty!

Anyways, LATU is a self-rewarding and easy job where you recieve free insurance, free room and board, and 900,000KRW stipend each month which is equivalent to 800USD. Talk about an awesome job! By being LATU tutor and studying abroad, I am saving and making money while being in Korea.

 

Moreover, I enjoy teaching in the global lounge because it has comfortable coaches and tables making the study environment enjoyable. It is filled with different materials to teach your students including: newspaper articles, various books, white boards, and even interactive games. The way you want to teach your class is entirely up to you. No one tells you how you should or shouldn’t teach your class. However, I did ask for some advice of previous LATU tutors and they said to just ask the students what they want to learn. Most of the students do not want you to teach them grammar or proper English so to speak, because they receive all of this in the classroom. They truly want to improve their speaking skills and know how to communicate with English speakers in a normal conversation. So typically I just sit and have a conversation with them and they normally have multiple questions regarding our culture and language. You would be surprised at some of the things they ask you. They want to know how to use slang correctly and are curious to what some curse words mean. In my last class, they were asking me why people say “Oh my god!” and what it means. If you think about it, they are not going to be taught this kind of “English slang” in the classroom. They are strictly taught proper English. Interacting with someone who is a native speaker and the same age as them really benefits them.

 

I have  gotten to know my students on a personal level and loved every minute. I know which one is the leader and outgoing whereas I can tell who is shy and timid to speak English. Koreans are incredibly nervous to practice their English with natives. You will constantly hear them say “I am sooooo sorry my English not good!!” I banned that phrase with both of my groups because I believe confidence is the key. If they are confident and not afraid to make a mistake then their English will improve. I notice if I correct them, they are constantly apologizing. I think this just has to do with their culture. I am a native speaker and even make mistakes! Although, I have met some Koreans who are confident and are fearless to speak the language, which is kind of a breath of fresh air.

 

Overall, LATU is a great program that really helps not only Korean students, but the tutors as well. They look up to you and are always willing to help. If you need help with Korean language, they are more than happy to teach you. If you need help booking train tickets, they will take your computer and book them for you. If you ask them to lunch, they ask where and when, sometimes will even pay for you (which I do not like!) I would recommend this program to anyone that is interested! It is a great experience for you to embrace a different culture and to learn a lot about yourself!

 

 

 

A Day at Illsan Beach

The first week here was a mini vacation due to the fact that classes did not start for a week. It gave the international students a chance to get to know each other and explore Ulsan. So far, I have met people from all over the world. Not only do I get to experience Korean culture, but I am also learning various aspects of European culture because most of the international students here are from different parts of Europe. The main countries are Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and Germany.

The third day I was here our Korean buddies informed us that March 1st is Korea’s Independence Day. The day celebrates the movement in 1919 where the Korean people declared their nation’s independence from Japan. Now, they do not celebrate Independence Day like we do in the U.S., they just simply hang Korean flags all over the country.

 

However, my colleagues and I thought we would celebrate by going to Illsan Beach for the day. The beach was absolutely incredible. The clear blue water, the massive rocks surrounding the ocean, and mystic trees made this beach a sight to see.

Right beside the ocean was a beautiful park. There were stairs and paths that led onto rocky peninsulas. My friends and I took about three hours just exploring the different viewpoints. Below are places that we found to be quite peaceful. We stayed here for most of the afternoon just enjoying each other’s company and listening to the sound of the waves hitting the rocks.

 

Daewangam Rock was another location we stumbled upon, which has historical significance. Supposedly one of the early Korean kings wanted his spirit to manifest as a dragon and stay under these rocks, to protect the country against any invaders from the east, like Japan.

Daewangam Rock

After a long exploration of the different peninsulas we walked over to a large lighthouse. We went inside of the information building and read more about Illsan Beach. In addition, we got the chance to stand on top of the roof and view the ocean one last time.

 

 

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travels to Korea

 

I will first apologize for not maintaining my blogging but in my defense my first two weeks here in Ulsan have been crazy busy! However, I will make sure to keep up with my blogs from now on.

So I will start from the beginning. I arrived in Seoul (2nd largest city in the world) at about 4 pm on a Sunday. After the four hour delay and one more plane ride we arrived in Busan, Korea’s second largest city. Waiting for me was my “Korean Buddy” with a sign that said my name. Each international student is partnered up with a Korean student to help them accommodate to the Korean culture and settling into their dormitory. As I stepped out of the airport, I could literally feel my world changing. I was in a HUGE city with big neon signs mostly written in a foreign language that I could not comprehend, busses and taxis zooming by me and tons of people. Despite my overwhelming exhaustion, I loved every minute of it. I waited with my buddy at the bus station for about 30 minutes and got to know each other a little bit. There was a little bit of a language barrier but we still could communicate. I noticed though every time she made a mistake she became very flustered and almost even embarrassed, I soon found out that this is how most Koreans act when they are speaking English. They are very intimidated to speak English because they are too afraid to make a mistake

After the hour bus ride I had finally arrived in Ulsan, South Korea. The city I will be residing in for the next 4 months.

The streets of Ulsan