Here are three words to describe my first weeks at Korea University: Fun, Confusing, Chaotic.
The Fun part are all the other students, professors and university staff, learning and new experiences.
Confusing is the fact that no matter how hard you try to keep on track of your email and all the information distributed on different channels it is nearly impossible to stay fully on top of things. This University is full of surprises.
For Chaotic I'll just say this: Add & Drop period*. If you've ever studied at Korea University, you'll know what I am talking about. And I bet you can still feel the goosebumps. The first week of studies went mostly to cope with the last one so I'll let you know what happened this week.
* Add & Drop period is the "shopping week" for courses. You will be able to try out the courses and add ones you like and drop the ones you like less. Fun, right? Not really. Especially if you are an exchange student. This beautiful idea turns out to be a true real life horror story. Each night you sit on your laptop starring at the screen (like all the other 30 000 students) and wait the clock to switch from 6:29 to 6:30. After that it is a raw battlefield and pure luck defines if you will be able to enroll a course or not. Luckily, a plan B exists for those who don't survive. But naturally the selection of courses offered will also be narrower.
After a fun and relaxing weekend spent with friends in good company I am ready to get started with studying. I couldn't be happier that the add & drop nightmare is finally over and to be honest, my schedule looks pretty good. It is a little spread out but I like all of the courses I have.
On Campaign Planning in Media we get to learn more about PR and campaign planning for non-profit organizations and political institutions both in theory and practice. Emotional Communication is as it sounds, about using emotions in communication and their importance in people's media choices. Many people find this course a little bit confusing. Our first assignment is to "Do something creative that conveys emotion". I love it.
Organizational Behavior is a more traditional business course with a touch of psychology and sociology. Finally, I am supposed to start my Korean class and I am pretty excited to expand my three word vocabulary. To my surprise, there is no one there when I arrive there 15min before the class is supposed to start. I log in to university portal to see if they changed the classroom and find out that my course has disappeared.
I break out in a cold sweat. What the heck has happened? I cannot just jump off a course since my home university Aalto requires a certain amount of credits during an exchange. At the Global Service center the very friendly staff informs me that the university decided to cancel the course and emailed us the very same morning. Unfortunately I didn't know since I had checked my email just half an hour before the message arrived. "Don't worry", one of the young ladies behind the desk tries to comfort me "here is a list of the other Korean courses you can try to enroll". Of course I want to and ask her if she could do it right away. "Oh, you will need to do another add & drop. It starts tonight at 6:30pm". Great.
New day, new vibe. I got lucky the night before and received a place at another Korean course. Today I'll just have two classes, New Product Development in the morning and finally the first Korean course in the evening.
In the afternoon it's my turn to go take care of the Alien Registration at the immigration office. I have prepared all the documents well in advance as well as an ID photo and 30 000won application fee. The process is very easy and fast. Only the machine that you have to use for the payment is a little confusing and only speaks Korean. I am happily surprised how easy the Alien Registration Card process actually is. In the beginning of October I will receive my ID card and become an official Alien. Haha.
Back at campus I get to go to my first Korean class. The teacher is very lively and efficiently teaches us the basics of 한글 (Hangul), the Korean alphabet - using barely any English. This is like no other language course I have ever had. But I have a good feeling about it. We will have class four times a week so it is kind of impossible not to learn anything.
Kakao Talk pings during my first class. My KUBS buddy informs that our University Jackets have arrived. The best news of the day so directly after class I go to pick up mine. I chose an over-size that can be worn with almost anything when it gets cold. What do you think?
The highlight of Thursday was the Business School Welcoming party. The invitation stated that the dean would give a speech and free pizza would be served. Especially the second seemed to attract many participants. ;)
At the after party we got to mingle with both local and international students who are studying their whole degree at Korea University. It was of course fun to meet new people and very interesting to see from how different places and backgrounds people have come here to study.
In addition to more traditional university courses students of Korea University have a chance to take "general subject" courses. These are often extra curriculum activities such as squash or climbing. Cool, right! These courses cannot be included to the official learning agreement at least in Aalto University, but I think it is a great chance to get more involved in the university life.
I actually managed to enroll a course called sports dance. I was totally hyped to learn some K-pop and street moves. At the first class on Friday morning it turns out I had not quite caught the core of this course. (Possibly due to the syllabus being in Korean). The dance of the day was cha-cha. Well, if I ever get an invitation to join Dancing With The Stars I'll be prepared!
On Saturday we had some time to take it easy and explore the probably best known part of the city.
You know this song, right?