Thursday, August 16, 2012

한국어 수업은 끝났어 (Korean Class is Finished)

I have officially completed an intensive Korean language course by Korea University. It was 100 hours jammed into 5 weeks. We had four hours of class Monday through Friday. I took my final four hour exam on Wednesday, August 15th. It was an hour for a reading session, then an hour for a writing session, and the rest for an individual role-play/interview/speaking session. It started out fairly easy and got progressively harder. I'm pretty confident I did the worst on the interview/speaking session. I spent two very late nights studying for it. I was up until 4am on both Monday and Tuesday night. On Monday night, around 3:30am however, I got a "lucky" break. Hilary and I were the only ones left in the ETA lounge and she said that the teachers were walking by so I turned around and yelled "선생님". It just turned out to be my two teachers. They were still up writing the exam. They work really hard and stay up really late--we (ETAs) don't really have a reason to complain. They were shocked to see me still up and one of them gave me a hug and said she was really touched that I was studying so hard. The other one told me to go to sleep. I think because they saw me up so late studying hardcore for Korean class, they felt bad for me. I know this because of what happened today. One of the teachers wrote each of us cards and she wrote that she didn't know I was struggling with Korean and studied so hard in my card. We also took a piece of paper and passed it around today and let everyone sign it. The other teacher wrote in Korean on everyone's paper (I saw when I was passing/writing on them) but she wrote in all English for mine. So while it was good that the teachers know that I work and try hard, thus making them sympathetic towards me, they also think I'm very stupid and struggled hard core through Korean class. While it didn't come absolutely easy for me, it wasn't as hard as a struggle as I think they thought it was. But it's all over now so no worries.

The interesting thing about the Korean final is that it doesn't really matter all that much. In Fulbright Korea ETA history, there has never been an ETA who has failed. And let's be real, there is no way I'm the worst Korean student in all of ETA history. I'm not even the worst in my current year. I wasn't required to go to office hours because my average grade was below a certain expectation, etc. There have been measurements and I have done okay, not spectacular, but okay. So the final is more of a formality than anything else. Still though, I had to study; it's my nature to try my hardest. I actually want to continue self-studying Korean when I get to my homestay, but at my own pace. That's one of my goals for sure.

So when Wednesday night came, I thought I could finally get more than 3-4 hours of sleep... that was not the case. As part of my Talent Show committee responsibility, Elaine and I were supposed to make a slideshow that compiles the memories of orientation. We stayed up until 3am working on it. The end result was a 8-9 minute video of all pictures. It may not seem like a lot but each picture was only displayed for 2 seconds... so it was a lot of pictures. A lot of people uploaded pictures onto a dropbox we created but some didn't even make the cut; we had so many pictures. We didn't even finish on Wednesday night, we just ended up going to bed since we were both so tired. We met on Thursday after the workshop to complete it before the Talent Show. We cut it pretty close because once we finished editing, uploading, and saving, I went straight to the Talent Show.

Other than the stress of finishing the video and doing tech work during the actual Talent Show, Thursday was really relaxed. Our Korean class had a fun practice day. The first two hours were spent hanging out, writing each other notes, listening to music, and singing/battling with other classes to a song called "Americano." It was kinda funny. The last two hours were spent practicing our skit for our final presentation to Korea University and the KAEC on Monday. That's supposed to be a super big deal. Our skit is called "Batman and Friends," I believe. We are singing a chorus that's translated into "Batman, Batman, where are you? I don't speak Korean. Help me, help me." Then we have different acts with Batman such as eating, shopping, etc. It's gonna be great.

After the really chill class, workshop, and time I spent with Elaine working on the slideshow, the rest of the day was dedicated to the actual Talent Show. It actually went extremely well. The theme was "Kimchee Games" and there were skits and superlatives involved too. The performances were awesome and the OCT did a "special" show at the end. It consisted of a "jeopardy" quiz consisting of random facts about each of them and then a dance. They were actually really good. The jeopardy was kinda strange; it was a bunch of really inappropriate but funny facts about things they have done. The dance was REALLY impressive. It was a mashup of a bunch of K-pop songs and all the OCs danced at different parts. The skits were almost exact replicas of different scenes of the Hunger Games but with different wording to make it relevant to our Goesan theme. Everyone who acted out in the scenes really got into the role too. Ginger was Effie Trinket and put on cornstarch on her face to be super pale, had a ridiculous outfit on, and was using an umbrella. Thomas and Ben West were the MCs and really looked great since they were dressed up as Claudius Templesmith and Ceaser Flickerman, respectively. All in all though, my favorite act was our RA's, Eun Jong (Rachel) and Caden. They created a video and it was amazing. They created a music video cover of "Gangdam Style" and then had another video of pictures and memories of us. It was absolutely precious and extremely well made. They must have spent hours on it.

It's finally hitting me that we're all splitting up and leaving. It occurred to me after the exam yesterday but it's more evident to me after the Talent Show. I'm a lot sadder than I thought I would be. I didn't realize I could get close to people after less than two months. I haven't fully reflected on that but I just want to spend as much time as possible with people I will miss.

We're leaving for Seoul in about two hours from now--3:30am. Time to sleep.

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