Summer at Sogang

Sogang University Summer Program 2014

During the mid-semester winter break (in South Korea, it’s their summer break), I attended the Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea as a student, in which I took part in their 2014 Summer Program. On the 22nd of June, I arrived in South Korea feeling extremely nervous due to my lack of understanding in the Korean Language. When I arrived at Incheon International Airport, a fellow Sogang University student came to greet me at the airport. We travelled by the airport limousine to Sogang University, passing by the Han River. Once we arrived at Sogang University, I was so amazed by the university itself as it was a much larger campus than ACU and I was told that Sogang University was one of the smallest universities in South Korea which came as a shock because it was three times as big as ACU. It was also interesting to learn that the current president of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye was a former student at Sogang University.

Classes and Korean Slang Terms.

When it came to terms of classes, the first thing I noticed when I attended my first class at Sogang University was the difference in hours and the structure of each class. At Sogang University, for majority of the summer program, the classes are structured into extended hours of lectures known as seminars, which are four hours long. In each seminar, there are two lecturers, each splitting up the time limit, with two hours per professor. I am also taking Beginner’s Level of Korean Language at Sogang and this class runs for three hours, which is somewhat similar to the one-hour tutorials at ACU but an extended version of the class. Korean Language was difficult to learn, as certain consonants were hard to pronounce with the vowels. The most difficult thing for me was the pronunciation as the writing was somewhat less difficult. But it goes with every saying that practice does make perfect. Along the way, I’ve made a few friends, some of which are Korean in which they taught me some Korean Slang terms such as Heol!, which stood for an expression similar to Western culture’s Oh My Goodness , Daebak! which meant Great! And Jjang!, which also stood for Great or Awesome.

Korean History.

One of the destinations of the field trip was Gyeongbokgung Palace. At this destination, we learnt the background to the Joseon dynasty and its infamous king, Sejong the Great. To Koreans, they believe is King Sejong the Great, in which they believe that Sejong is a hero due to his creation of the Korean Alphabet, which is called Hangul, which was created for the ‘commoners’ during the Joseon Dynasty.

 Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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Korean Culture.

The cultural differences between South Korea and Australia are very different. Koreans are very polite as they always greet people with a bow following the Korean term of hello, which is Annyeonghasaeyo. This greeting is said to any one at any time It has been recognised that the Korean population love to do everything together as a group as stated by one of the professors that are teaching one of the seminars that I am taking.. Though it has only been a week since I have arrived in Seoul, I feel like everyone here and the friends that I have made are already like ‘family’ as we learnt in one of the seminars that about the culture of Korea, is that Koreans do not like to use the term ‘I’ as they refer to everything as uri which is the Korean term that stands for ‘we’. Hence meaning they like to do everything together as a group and are not exclusive to the idea of individuality. This is particularly observant in the streets of Gangnam.