My Top 5 list for “success” at UIC
Spring has arrived in Korea a while ago, but I’m only writing now because I finally feel like I have enough photos to show! (Actually more like I was busy with midterms and thesis :P)
So spring, where the freezing winter is no longer and you see the sun more, the green shoot growing and the flowers blooming. I still can’t decide if my favorite season is spring or fall, but I love the feeling of warming days and finally being able to shed those down jackets in exchange for colorful knits and now it’s even warm enough for cardigans! Oh the joy 😀
So the signal of spring in Korea comes sometime around mid-March, when the temperatures begin to slowly rise above 0°C. Though the skies are still gloomy and your fingers are still frozen, you realise that the sun rises and sets a little later every day. By the end of March, the real spring weather (around 10-15°C) would have arrived in Korea usually! But by mid-May or June it would be the sweltering summer so make the most of spring!
Some features of spring in Korea:
After being inactive for a million years, I’m finally back, and I plan to write as often as I can this semester before I graduate! (Yes, this is my last semester in Korea ㅠㅠ) It’s been a journey full of ups and downs and I really wish to document more of my thoughts and my life in Korea in these last few months here. Thank you for staying with me even though I haven’t been updating often, but I hope that my posts will be of interest to you!
As you can see from the title, I’m talking about something that might be a problem some of you are facing now – how to convince your parents that you’re making the right choice in studying overseas? In fact, I faced the same problem 4 years ago, and today I’m facing the same problem again as I intend to go to graduate school. Some of you have asked me the same question about how I managed to persuade my parents, so I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences and thoughts.First question is always, why Korea?
To be specific, the question my parents asked was “why don’t you want to go to NUS?” In the case for Singapore at least, we have pretty well-acclaimed universities and going to Yonsei appeared to be some sort of downgrade. I had good scholarship offers too, but the scholarship providers did not want me to go to Yonsei (and thus I rejected their offers in the end).
For this question, you would have to answer to three groups of people: 1) Your parents 2) Your relatives and friends 3) Yourself.
For anyone who knows a little about the Korean language, you would have learnt that the written language (or Hangeul; 한글 in Korean) was invented and propagated by King Sejong (yup, that’s the one sitting right at Gwanghwamun square!)
The Korean language in the past was only a spoken language and was written in classical Chinese characters (what we know as Hanja;한자 today). However, King Sejong worked towards creating an alphabet that was unique to the Koreans, which would correspond to the way the Korean language is spoken, instead of pronouncing Chinese characters in Korean language like before. And thus the Hangeul was born! I have to say that the Korean alphabet is one of the easiest to learn, because you just need to fit different pieces together and you would know how to pronounce the word already 😀 (And of course it is really much easier than Chinese characters)
Just last year, Hangeul Day which is celebrated on October 9th was made a public holiday in South Korea. Also in further efforts towards the promotion of Hangeul, the National Hangeul Museum was recently opened on Hangeul Day this year. The museum features exhibitions tracing the history of the development of Hangeul as well as artifacts related to the Hangeul.
After a few months of spamming you guys with travelling in Korea and education-related topics, I am finally sharing more about studying in Korea! Hope that you guys don’t mind because I do feel that you can learn more about travelling in Korea as part of student life, and education articles are a way of showing what activities you can join in Korea as a “SNS supporter” of a UNESCO organization.
This “SNS supporters” thing seems quite unique to Korea, basically organizations like to recruit university students to help promote them or some ideas on their own SNS channels. For instance, Wow Korea supporters aim are supposed to promote Korean tourism. And as UNESCO APCEIU supporter I join conferences or events and through writing articles I’m supposed to promote education for international understanding. There are many other organizations recruiting supporters too, such as KOTRA from what I’ve heard. So depending on your interests there are many such organizations you can join, outside of school!
But I digress. The main point of this post is this live event that I’m very excited about! So basically two of my best friends in school, Amalia and Thanh who are running the Woori UIC Youtube channel are planning to hold a live event via Youtube! What this means is that you get to chat with them in real time, and get all the answers to your questions immediately!
As I always say, I am quite a boring person (no joke!) and I’m been getting increasingly busy with school which means less time for updates, so I am constantly on the lookout for other related websites where you guys can get to know more about student life in Korea or about some other universities.
Recently I was contacted by Dreaming Korea, a website that provides information for students who wish to further their studies in Korea. Looking at their website, I really wish that it had existed at the time I was applying for university! It has basically collated much information about the various universities that you can easily access, and also features some posts about universities or life in general. Now this is important because my experience is mostly about Yonsei University or just Underwood International College, and everything else is what I hear from some of my friends from other universities. But reading interviews from this website you can directly hear from other students in some other universities!
These are the main reasons why I decided to contribute to the website (under Community –> Campus Life) and gave an interview with the website. I guess I never really got down to talking about my life in Korea more personally because I never had the full list of questions before. Perhaps the interview might answer some of your questions too!
URL to the interview:
I feel quite stupid for not saying this earlier (it’s been what, 3 years since my first post on this blog? Unbelievable), but for all of you Singaporeans who are coming to Korea for long-term and wish to get in touch with the Singaporean community, here are some things you might want to register for. (Same goes for those of you who are not Singaporeans, you can do so with your own country representatives!)
1) Join the Singapore Club Seoul (SCS)!
Currently there’s a Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/singaporeclubseoul/ which you can request to join.
You can also email them directly at email@example.com
You can join even if you’re not located in Seoul too! We’re a small but tight-knitted community here I would say, and it does feel a lot more cosy and less “formal” than some other Singapore clubs in other countries that I’ve been to. The staff at our embassy here in Seoul are really kind and fun-loving too, and our ambassador is very friendly and approachable. We join events such as the Seoul Friendship Fair every year, mostly with food booth selling delicious Singaporean food that Singaporeans in Seoul all miss dearly! There are also various events organized by SCS such as potluck bbq and probably the biggest event in the year, the National Day celebrations where it’s another chance to feast on Singaporean food 😀 Do join and keep in touch with the Singaporean community here! There are just times when you need someone to speak in Singlish to and crack jokes that only Singaporeans can relate to, so it’s always good to keep in touch with other Singaporeans in Korea!
2) Register yourself with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a bid to procrastinate when you have a mountain of work to complete (I’m sure many of you have had the same experience), I took the excuse to come back to the blog!
First off, I am so sorry to everyone who has emailed or commented, because I took an impossibly long amount of time to reply you guys. There are some emails even from March which I have yet to reply (Please forgive me!! ㅠㅠ) I have to say that the exchange to Japan last fall semester did allow me to relax a little, but it also made it a little more difficult to get back on track to the academic rigor in UIC… I am now replying the emails and comments so please wait a little more!
On another note, it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve started my life in Korea and in UIC, and I just have about 1 more year left. There are so many things that I would like to share with all of you before I leave, but senior year will probably be crazier than it already is for me now ): I will still try my best to update more often though.
What I have no time to say in words, I shall leave in photos. Spring came really early to Korea this year, temperatures were so warm that the cherry blossoms bloomed exceptionally early this year! (Usually they bloom towards the end of April, this year they were in full bloom in early April!) I took a trip down to Busan and Gyeongju as well since my sister visited, as well as some interesting places in the vicinity of Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do (the two provinces really close to Seoul). I hope that these photos will give you a better idea of how life in Korea can be! 😀
If you haven’t already noticed, I added a “Useful Links” page a few months ago!
I’ve added links to some of the top 10~15 universities in Korea, and also some Youtube channels I found that covered life in Korea or student life in Korea and things like that.
So, I’ve decided to address this issue of Korean proficiency after getting many questions over these years.
First of all, to make a differentiation, most universities in Korea have various tracks for admissions. For instance, Yonsei University has an admission directly for Underwood International College (its all-English undergraduate programme), and another regular admission for the other colleges. So in this case, for admissions to UIC, you would not need Korean proficiency.
However, for the regular admission, you would definitely need Korean proficiency. Even if some of the classes offered in say, the College of Business is conducted in English, during admission to the College of Business itself, you need to have Korean proficiency. Even if you are planning to choose only English classes (if they even offer enough classes conducted in English that you are able to complete the number of credits to graduate, which is usually quite unlikely), you would still need Korean proficiency.
Of course, there are some universities that state that for some majors, Korean proficiency is not required. Most of the time, it would be probably the English majors, or some universities that have some global business programmes or international studies/global studies programme. If so, then good (or bad, depending on how much you want to learn Korean) for you (:
However, there are some universities that accept students conditionally. So for instance, the Korean proficiency requirement is actually TOPIK Level 4, but you only obtained Level 3. Since your Korean proficiency is below that of the requirement, technically you don’t fulfill the admissions requirement. However, some universities still accept you for admission, and have you take part-time Korean language classes as you simultaneously take your other major classes for the semester.
While it sounds like a good plan for the students who really want to enter the university, I personally do not agree with such policies. Neither do I think that universities that only require TOPIK Level 3 for majors that are conducted in Korean are fully aware of the consequences on the students. I say this on a personal level, based on my own experience and the experiences of people around me, and so I hope to share our stories so to help all of you hoping to come to Korea for your studies make a more informed decision.