수업mates – a term we coined while we were taking Korean10-11. It was a day when we practically spent the entire day hanging out (because it was Korean Week then) and have the need to use the word classmate many times but we didn’t know yet what is classmate in Korean. But we know that class is 수업. A classmate used 수업mates instead to call us. We find it really funny and we started creating words such as 수업방, 수업-ify, 수업-ified,수업-ification, 수업-ifier, and other ridiculous terms. But somehow 수업mates stuck, much to the frustration of our 선생님 who keeps insisting that we use 반친구. 🙂

KOREAN 10-11

June 8, 2010. I was very anxious because it was the first day of school and I’ve been away from the university for about 6 years. Good thing my first class is Korean – the excitement somehow balances the anxiety. It’s my second time to attend a formal Korean class and my first time to actually earn a grade that would reflect in my transcript for a Korean class (awesome!). It was also my first time to have a Korean professor. I was the oldest in the class (actually there were two of us, but my batch mate would insist that I’m 7 months older than him!) – but thankfully not older than our professor. However my classmates never made me feel that I’m too old.

We have a what we call an integrated class. Instead of the usual 3 units per class, it was 6 units. It’s like taking 2 subjects. It was Korean 10 (Sogang 1A) and Korean 11 (Sogang 1B). The first half of the semester will be Korean 10 and the second half would be Korean 11. Because of that, we have to meet everyday (awesome again!).

The first few days bore me. I’ve been self-studying (elementary) Korean (lazily!) for the past 4 years. But after the alphabet and the greetings lessons I started enjoying it. I get to re-learn a lot of vocabs that I’ve forgotten. And I get to retain vocabs that I keep forgetting. Korean 10 was basically a breeze for me. I can complete homeworks while on the bus going to school. I never prepared for exams yet I get perfect scores. I just take in as much new words as I can and new expressions from our professor.

Korean 11 started to get a bit difficult. Grammars that I haven’t encountered yet were taught. We also began writing diaries. I started studying for exams and I spent more and more time in doing my homeworks. My mistakes started getting plentier. But it was really fun and I really learned so much. And a lot of my Korean friends (and Korean speaking friends) have noticed that my Korean has improved a lot. It was also the semester when I took my first TOPIK.

More than the things I learned, it was time spent with my 수업mates that made Korean 10-11 very memorable. I’ve never been in a class as happy and as close as we were then. Despite the fact that we came from different colleges (different courses/majors) and our ages range from 15 to 27 (blame me for making the age range that big!). We often meet even after class and we keep on talking online.

Our professor is very cool too! She’s like a kid at times. And she loves having fun with all of us.

We wore 한복 together, we made 태극기 together, we ate 떡 together, we played like crazy, we watched movies, we noraebang all night long, we go to Korean restaurants, we ate Korean ice creams, we cooked 호떡, we took TOPIK, we watched dramas, we had picnics, we chat like crazy, we spazz over our favorite Korean stars/Kpop groups, we recorded Korean songs and filmed  our own (gasps!) MVs, and we took hundred of photos together!

KOREAN 12-13

November 9, 2010. First day of Korean 12-13 (Sogang 2A & 2B). Only less than half of our Korean10-11 continued either because they already graduated or they don’t need anymore foreign language units or the schedule is conflicting with their other class schedules.

It was awkward at first. Our group (those who came from the same Korean 10-11 class) doesn’t interact much with the other half of the class (who came from other Korean 10-11 classes). The lessons were more difficult and the class is conducted in Korean (simple Korean at that).

I first thought that because we were so close with each other in Korean 10-11, it would be difficult now to get along with our “new” classmates. We still keep in touch with our old classmates from our Korean 10-11 class. Some of them sits-in in our Korean 12-13 class when they have free time. We often have lunch together as well and were excited whenever we meet old classmates along the campus.

Some of the 수업mates from the Korean 10-11 were even hesitant to get close with the new classmates and even felt bad when we started using 수업mates to call our Korean 12-13 classmates too.

But who would have thought that we’ll also be really close with each other. Not just the entire Korean 12-13 class, but together with some of our 수업mates from the Korean 10-11 who didn’t continue with Korean 12-13 (at least those who are still in the university).

It was a bit slow to get at ease with each other. But as days pass by and as we enjoy each class time, we get to enjoy each other’s company more and more. If it was the Korean Week that bonded our Korean 10-11 class together, it was the Korean Speech and Short Play competition that bonded our Korean 12-13 class together.

We spent all our free time practicing and preparing for the play and usually stayed until night time in the International Center (university dormitory for international students) to practice with our 도우미s.

Our professor is a very elegant lady. She is fluent in English but refuses to talk in English in class as much as possible. She prepares the lessons well and she encourage us to do our best.

Both Korean 12 and 13 were difficult classes (for me at least). I still get to reap the small fruits of my self-studying and drama watching (and Kim Sun Ah-stalking) and it helped me with the lessons. But all in all, it was difficult and, except those who have been exchange students in Korea, almost everyone in the class were pretty much on the same level.

Despite the fact that the classes were more difficult, I didn’t study outside the class at all. Our professor is really great that I don’t see the need (read: lazy!) to study at home anymore. As long as you attend your classes everyday, you won’t get lost (actually even if you miss a lesson or two, it would be easy for you to keep up).

I can’t distinguish Korean 12 from Korean 13 since every lesson is new for me. Because of Korean 12-13 I get to express myself in Korean more. I am now able to understand bigger portions of songs and dramas. I can also write letters and diaries using only Korean (with the help of good dictionaries).

And since we get to express ourselves more in Korean, the class started getting more and more fun. Despite frequent nose bleeds (ref: urban dictionary definition #4), we get to crack more jokes and often came up with ridiculous and/or hilarious Korean sentences much to the amusement of our professor.

We laughed so much in class (that the professor on the next classroom would often comment that our class is an extremely happy one – sarcastically most of the time though), we chatted happily before and after our class (that often resulted to another professor lecturing us that we are in a “learning institution” and not in a marketplace), we held numerous pizza parties in class every time someone  celebrates their birthday (god knows how many pizzas we had in our class), we surprise birthday celebrants with cakes or cards, we spazz over our Korean dramas and Kpop groups, we took countless photos, we ate lunches and dinners, we went noraebang, we practiced till night, we rant with each other, we played like kids, we had picnics, we played in amusement centers, we watched running naked guys in our campus (UP Oblation run), we had our Christmas party, we made Korean friends, we ate in Korean restaurants and we harassed our professor into admitting that she is dating another professor.

The end

March 23, 2011. Our final exam for Korean 12-13. Our last day of class.

After we were done with the exam, we weren’t able to bond as a class anymore. It was finals week so most of us were busy with other exams, paper completions and thesis defenses. A few of us were able to eat a late lunch together.

It was a bit sad that we weren’t able to formally bid each other farewell. On the other hand, we also think it was okay since it was not really goodbye yet. We hope that we’ll get to still see each other – soon!

What’s next?

Nothing. Unfortunately. That concludes my formal Korean classes. Those were the only Korean classes in our university. There has been a proposal for Korean 14-15 but it hasn’t materialized until now. So we have no choice but to take another foreign language (or other subjects) next semester. So for Korean, I’m back to self-studying.

I’m thankful for these Korean classes. It made my first year in the university very enjoyable. It helped me A LOT with my Korean. I will forever be thankful to both of my amazing 선생님s and my wonderful 수업mates.


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