continuing from my previous post.
So… I had a lot of time on my hands when I wrote that last post. … and then school happened. So, as if dragging out a really long sentence… after 6 months, I will finish this thought on how the universities are different in the USA and South Korea.
First, to wrap up academics:
School books – text books – for the most part are REALLY REALLY cheap. Let me draw your attention to a post I wrote about college books (linked: here) which was written from my earlier experiences shopping for text books here in the US. Of course, when I say textbooks in Korea are REALLY REALLY cheap, this is what I am comparing it to.
I had started off the semester with three classes:
– Korean Language for Beginners (Thank you Dyslexia for making this class so much more fun than it could have been) 65000 Won
– Language Assessments for Secondary Learners 35000 Won
– Language and Culture 13 000 Won
My total cost for textbooks for these three classes was about $113.00. In the US, this would be around $450.00. I am seriously wondering why there is such a difference in price.
I love my professors at Yonsei University. They are very patient, kind, and care about my success in class. I have teachers like that here in the US, but…sometimes, it did not feel that way. To be fair, maybe I just caught three awesome teachers in Seoul (all last named KIM) for the one semester I was there. Maybe I was just so distracted by the great experiences I had there that I was seeing my experience through rose colored glasses.
In either case, here are three things I noticed about teachers and classes in Korea:
1) When there is a class longer than an hour, often there will be a ten minute break in the class to give the students a break. Sha- right! (sarcasm) the break MUST be for the teacher. We would always take our breaks at the 50 minute mark in the hour to start ten minutes later. … as soon as :50 of the hour would hit. The teacher would finish their sentence and then poof! Disappear. If you had a question to ask, you should have asked it BEFORE (and in front of your class mates) the break happened. With inhuman speed the teacher runs out of the classroom not to be seen from for the next ten minutes. To which class would start promptly and resume for another 50 minutes. If he or she ran out of material, then they would put a video in or load a video from youtube. EVERY minute of class time is used.
In contrast, here in the US, time is much more flexible (for the most part). The teacher normally stays in the class if there is a break and may answer questions discreetly or for everyone to hear, depending on how the student asked it. Also, if the teacher wraps up their lecture a little early, they will stop and dismiss class. That is not the case in Korea, ….
2) Public Interrogation in Class! In the US, teachers will generally NOT ask a student why there not in class last Tuesday. However, I noticed in at least one or two different classes, the teacher would ask where Mr. So-an-So was. …and then on the next class day when that person was in class, the teacher would ask him why he was not in class the previous day. WHAT?! ….in the US, teachers would not so openly potentially embarrass the student; however, in Korea, I think some teachers live for it.
3) Group Presentation. I hate them. This is how a friend of mine put it. Generally speaking this is why I do not like group presentation for grades:
In Korea, the professors LOVED assigning Group Projects with these projects being a significant representation of your grade. The problem I have with this is that what I find acceptable levels of input does not normally match up with everyone else’s in the group. I love playing with groups. I just have a hard time with my grade being influenced by the work of others. That said, welcome to Life! …and choose your friends, group mates, and partners wisely, eh? In case it needs to be said, it has been my experience, that group work is held to a minimum in the US. We normally keep those assignments few and very far between.
In the US, they are around, but not nearly visible in every building or convenient. You have to hunt for them. However, in Korea, and especially on campus, they are everywhere! It makes filling up water bottles very easy. Here are just a couple of pictures of what I found all around:
And lastly… the clubs on campus, also known as student organizations.
In the US, it is unheard of to not allow someone in your club. If you pay for student fees, and that club uses, student fees, then you are in! No interview, no complex meeting, no …”maybe if we like you.” In Korea though, there is commonly an interview held. Want to try out for the basketball team? …Great, schedule an interview…and then maybe you can warm a bench for a semester or two…because you’re newer (albeit, maybe a better player). For me, I wanted to be a part of a rather special club that has a smaller membership. It took four emails and three trips to the student union offices to get me in touch with the president of the club. That can happen anywhere – in the US or in Korea, but what I was not expecting was the club interview. I passed, and helped introduce other international students to this club, but it was a challenge because where I am from, everyone is accepted into the club and welcomed with open arms.
This was just my experience. Others may have different experiences, either in the US or in Korea.
The best advice I can offer is for you to suggest that you keep an open mind. It is all about that new experience, right?