I moved back to Korea to live with my boyfriend who just started his lab life at Kore University’s (KU’s) master’s program. I studied a bit at Sogang University, before getting too busy at work. I returned to my home country to apply for a Student visa because my working holiday visa was soon to expire. So I decided to apply to the School I lived closest to, Korea University Language Center. They interviewed me and placed me in level 3.
Korea University Review – classes
I would say good! Not perfect. But good! It all depends on what teacher you get. Luckily you always get two teachers with a set schedule. Either one of the teachers teaches on different days than the other or one of them takes the first period and the other the second period. But I do think you will always have a “main” teacher – the one who teaches more hours.
Books and Homework
The school has its own books that hopefully gets updated soon, but they are not bad at all. Just don’t expect a lot of good English explanations, I suggest googling a lot if you don’t fully understand the book’s translations.
The homework that they gave us in level 3 was first of to complete some exercises in the workbook, secondly to complete your writing assignment if you didn’t already in the classroom and finally record your voice while reading a paragraph from the book. The teacher would ask a few students every Monday to play their recorded reading (or read out loud if they didn’t record it) and the teacher would then give advice on how to fix their Pronunciation.
How to get better at speaking Korean
Coming from Sogang University Language program Level 2 Luckily I wasn’t bad at pronouncing Koran words and speaking. However, I noticed some people still lacking a “speaking flow” at KU. I realized that repetition really is the key to learning to speak a new language. You can do this by just talking and texting to Korean friends every day and use what you learned that day in class.
Going to Sogang really helped me get a faster flow. Probably because I also went out with my classmates who don’t speak English after class. So we forced ourselves to use Korean and try to understand each other. At Level 3 in Korea Uni. I hanged out with my classmates as well which was really helpful because there is too little focus on speaking in the classroom and honestly, my class was bad at talking to each other during the breaktimes. But every class is different of course, you may be lucky and end up with tons of talkative people.
From what countries do the students come from?
All over! But the majority will of course always be from China and Japan. However what surprised me the most was that there were a lot of people from Mongolia, Russia and Russian speaking countries such as Kazakstan, etc, Middle Eastern countries and also so many students from England! I noticed that many of them came on a program, either majoring in Korean or they were planning to apply to a Korean University. Many students were on the younger side but I have to say it was quite a good mix in the classes. I never met a Swedish person but I heard from a teacher that there was another one, we sadly never bumped into each other though.
How’s the Campus and Student life?
Korea University (KU for short) is famous for not only being the top 3 best Universities in Korea (the so-called SKY Universities) but also having one of the coolest buildings! KU has old castle-like buildings which kinda reminds me of Hogwarts. Keep in mind that the campus is very hilly so you will be getting a work out walking around there.
The area around campus though is nothing to brag about. Sure if you are new in Korea you will still be impressed and enjoy all the new foods, cafes and etc. But compared to other areas such as Hongdae/Sinchon you will notice how boring the KU area really is. No clubs, not a lot of bars, not as many foreigners and therefore not many unique places to visit. I realized that maaaybe because it belongs to the top 3 Uni, most students are probably there to study hard and therefore have no time to party. But of course, the language students do find some time to go out and have some fun. It is still Seoul after all!
School Field Trips
Every semester (10 weeks = 1 Semester) includes a field trip you will take with your class and teacher. They change the field trips every year. You will be informed on the orientation day what level classes get to go where. Examples of field trips are: Taking a day trip to Nami Island, seeing a musical / theatre play, going to an amusement park like Lotte World or Everland, Day trip to Icheon to learn about and try making ceramic bowls.
Tests and Grading – How’s the Mid – and Final Terms?
Honestly, I never understood the grading system 100% but here is my take on it. You need to have an average of 70% to pass. This includes Midterms and finals tests in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Also, one in-class presentation. For level 3 it was a group presentation on our own small survey research, in level 4 it was am individual speech on describing a special place with a personal memory attached to it. So if you get 70% correct on all your tests and not a bad score on your presentation you are guaranteed to pass and go up a level.
Usually, I got 65% on one test and 76%, 88%, 61%, I somehow still passed, maybe because I did the presentation well? The grading did not matter to me but some people were so nervous about not passing because their future depends on that. Level 1-3 is not bad if you study and do your best I would even say it’s not that hard. But I had trouble passing level 4 and still do, so make sure to put a lot of time on studying.
Includes one conversation piece with a classmate in front of the teacher (pick the topic on the spot) and one interview with the teacher.
The reading tests were quite difficult. You do not get much time to actually read, I would suggest reading the question and alternative answers first and then scan the text to see if you can find the answer. You may need to practice this way of “test reading”.
When it comes to the listening tests make sure to mark the answer quickly. I suggest you try to read the first question first and then listen, mark the answer quickly. Don’t worry they will repeat once more so you can double-check and then hurry on to read the next question before you have to listen carefully. It can seem a bit fast and have some tricky questions but if you practiced, it won’t be too hard.
In my opinion, writing is the hardest test. Many students including me already memorized what to write and hope for our favorite topic to pop up on the test. They don’t change too much from what you already wrote or practiced from the book. So just make sure you know all the grammar points and some vocabulary from each topic and you will be fine. It’s just that memorizing 5 different stories in Korean is a pain. Rewrite and repeat your sentences is a good way to study writing.
Korea University Review – How many Stars?
3/5 Stars from me!
The good parts of the course are that the lesson topics are good, a good mixture of students from all over the world are there and at least I got to meet a few GREAT teachers, as well as a few less great ones.
The bad parts are that they give more of a lecture type of lesson rather than a practice and repeat type of lesson. Therefore not leaving much time to focus on conversation exercises. Lastly, the KU area is not as fun and a bit far from popular places.
Must-try Restaurants near Korea University Campus
There are surprisingly a lot of good restaurants nearby. If you are looking for cheap places to eat I would suggest the school cafeterias. One is an all you can eat cafeteria (please try not to throw away leftover food on your plate). It includes soda and toast for only 5000won! Located at the Student Union 1st or the b1 floor. You can also check out the other cafeteria but on the 2nd or third floor, different entrance. There are also cheap underground cafeterias to check out!
The links are in Korean but you can check the maps~
Delicious Korean Kimbap – Crazy cheap and always a line at goleunhaes-sal
Take out your classmates to a Ddeokbokki buffet! at Dukki
Great Japanese Tempura donburi (Fried shrimp rice bowl) at Yamatotendong
These are just a few of my favorite places to eat. There are so many bbq places, drinking places, cheap Korean foods, fast foods, and even pasta & pizza places. You will notice by walking around. If you choose to study at KU I hope you will enjoy your time as much as I did. ^^