Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Student Life at Sogang University

So in case you haven't heard, I now reside in Seoul and have been living the city life for the past four months.  As much as I loved living in Jecheon for the past 2.5 years, I wanted to distance myself from teaching and start setting myself up for other opportunities, and unfortunately there aren't any opportunities for me to grow in Jecheon, so I felt I had to make a change.  Also, even though I grew up in a little town of 5,000 people, I've always had the desire to live in a big city, so I was excited to finally make the move.

My main motivation for moving to Seoul was to focus more on my Korean studies, so I did a lot of research and decided on Sogang University, a private Catholic university in the heart of Seoul that is renowned for its Korean language program.  While there are a wide variety of universities here in Seoul that offer Korean language courses for foreigners, Sogang seemed like the best fit for me because of its emphasis on speaking, while other universities emphasized grammar components in their courses.  Ever since taking Mrs. Creath's Spanish classes in high school, I've always found foreign languages to be intriguing and fun to learn.  I also really admire bilingual people and their ability to be able to communicate with people outside their native language.

Me and a couple classmates enjoying the "japchae" (Korean noodle dish) we made in class.

Entrance to Sogang University
My house is only 12min away by subway!

So after applying and getting accepted into Sogang University, I had to take a writing test and do a speaking interview to determine which level I should start in.  Sogang's Korean program consists of 6 levels, with level 1 being the starting point and ending with level 6.  I thought I would for sure be placed into level 1 since I had had no experience with formal Korean lessons and had only been taught by a Korean friend, but to my pleasant surprise I was placed into level 2.  I started my first 10-week semester in March and finished up in May.  The semester included daily 4-hour classes, with 1 hour devoted to writing, 1 hour to reading/listening and 2 hours to speaking.  Each component was taught by a different professor to expose the class to different teaching styles and accents.  All students were graded based on mid-term and final exam results, and students who pass can advance to the next level.

What I really enjoy about Sogang's program is that the classes are made up of students from very diverse backgrounds.  My class was comprised of 13 students from 9 different countries, including the USA, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, China, Brazil, Turkey, the Congo, and Mexico.  Because there was such an assortment of students in my class, we all had to rely on using Korean in the classroom because that was the common language.

Overall, I'm really happy with my decision to move to Seoul to pursue Korean language studies and to attend Sogang University.  It's a nice change to be on the learning end of the school spectrum again, as I've been the teacher in the classroom for the past couple of years now.  It is also interesting to have experience attending a Korean university.  I really learned a lot in my first semester and am looking forward to starting level 3 in September.      

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