Friday, October 24, 2014

SKKU ISS Orientation

We flew back to Seoul from Jeju a day before school orientation because that was when the dormitory was available for us. I will talk about my dormitory another time when I share about the choices of accommodations that is available.

After we checked in, we went to Daiso to purchase some necessities and basically cleaned up our room because it was really dusty and dirty. I even had like an allergy reaction at night which was crazy, thankfully it was not too serious to get me to the A&E.

Oh yar, unlike Singapore's Daiso where everything is $2 each. In Korea, the items in Daiso are priced differently. In my opinion,  some of the items available in Korea's Daiso has a brand to it, ie. Clean & Clear, Nivea, etc. whereas compared to Singapore's Daiso where everything is brandless or with a Daiso logo.

But Korea's Daiso is still pretty awesome, just like Singapore's Daiso.
You can pretty much get shampoos, soaps, detergent, facial wash, lip balms and blah there. They even sell travel sachets of these toiletries. 

Anyways, meet my awesome room mate, Stacy!


Stacy and I were friends since primary school. Thankfully, my request for her to be my room mate went through due to some medical issues that I had. The whole month with her was just plain awesome. We skipped the step of knowing each other and could live well with each other though we had different habits. But it is good to live with someone whom you know rather than you do not know, at least we could take care of each other since we are in a foreign land.

And on the 1st day of orientation, Stacy and I met up with Rita at McDonalds for breakfast.
I practically go to McDonalds for breakfast every single school day. 
The Sausage Mcmuffin served is damn yumxzx. Better than those that we have in Singapore.
But that is only applicable to the Hyehwa McDonalds outlet's Sausage McMuffin because I tried the one in Incheon Airport, it tastes nowhere better than the Hyehwa one!

Hyehwa McDonalds ftw!!!

After breakfast, we walked to school and we were quite early for the orientation.
We got to the registration counter and got ourselves a welcome kit with the SKKU ISS shirt, name tag, some brochures about the school's history, emergency contacts and blah....


After the briefing and orientation talk, there was a traditional korean music performance.


Afterwhich, we were brought around the school for a campus tour.

I personally think that going to SKKU is the best choice made. 

There were old buildings that existed way back since Joseon Dynasty and SKKU is the oldest university in Korea. SKKU is the perfect place where the old meets the new, where the history meets the present. 

The only part I dislike is the slope to Business school and Economics school. The slope is so steep, and it is good to pull off as a morning exercise whenever I go to the Economics school for class on Fridays. 

Other than that, the school is amazing! The student helpers, teaching assistants and housing assistants were all really helpful and fun to be with!












We then had buffet lunch in school and ended the day just like that. 

                           

Here is a view from our dormitory. In the background is the Bukhansan, on the left where the trees were is Changgyeonggung and the white building is Seoul National University Hospital. 

Interesting location, no? Hahahaha~

Second day of orientation and the first field trip!
This was taken with the mirror in front of the lift lobby in our dormitory in our green orientation tee!


My friends were tired of McDonalds breakfast, and so we went Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and throughout the whole duration of stay,  we or actually I only went Dunkin' Donuts once. But their breakfast was pretty good as well, just that I love my McDonalds more!


We were early for school again, we are those kind of people who are forever early.
We are always the first few to reach school, be it school events or classes.





We started the day with talks about the Korean Traditional Customs & Culture.



We even had the chance to try on hanbok, the traditional Korean costume as part of the cultural talk! 


With the girls that I hang out majority of the time (L-R)- Pei Shan, Xinyi, Rita, Me, Stacy!


With Stacy and our dormitory housing assistant, So Young who had been an awesome help to us! 


My awesome travel buddy and a solo shot of myself in the hanbok.

Afterwhich, we had lunch in the school canteen - bibimbap! 
Bibimbap is a dish that we always have during school events, it is the only dish that could cater to everyone's dietary preferences since this is an international programme, thus we have people from all over the world with different dietary preference.

But nonetheless, the school made me fall in love bibimbap to the extent that when I got back home, I went over to the supermarket to get gochujang and ate bibimbap for 3 days straight. It is just too yumxzx. Hehehe.


And...the school prepared the Nanta Performance for us!


It was an interesting non-verbal performance. Everyone around me enjoyed it but I was in the mental state of falling asleep, I did not enjoy as much. You know it is kind of tough to battle with the cooling air-conditioner and comfortable chair when you are pretty sleep-deprived. Hahaha!

But I must say that the performance was really engaging and interactive. Even if you are not in Korea, you can still catch the Nanta show, they do come to Singapore for their show. So if you are interested, you can catch it when it is available, normally advertisements would run on the tv when they are promoting the show.

And...after the Nanta show, we started our FIRST field trip.
However, this post is getting a teeny weeny little bit too long, I shall leave it to the next post.

I promise, I will get my motivation back again and start blogging about my trip and some useful tips.

In the meantime, I am still in a job search and I have been compiling some videos and photos we took during the trip which I would post it up when I am all done.

But till then, I would try and get myself to blog. Hope you all could understand that it is not too easy trying to recall what happened and the chronological order of the events that took place since it has been like 3-  4 months away from what it took place.

I will try my best to provide as much information as I could and share as much as I could to benefit anyone who is interested in doing summer semester. I understand how it is like when you just want to know more of what happens during the semester and all because I have been where you were before.

Anyways,  I gotta end this post before it gets too long.

Thank you for reading this extremely long post that is not very interesting.
Till the next time.

With love.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Module Selection + Korean Language Classes in ISS

As you know from my previous posts on my Summer Semester in Korea, I went to SKKU ISS programme.

Today, I will be sharing on the module that I took and the free Korean Language class that was available.

For the ISS programme, we could take up to a maximum of 2 modules which I was initially considering to. However, in the end, I took one module which is International Criminal Law (ICL).

International Criminal Law was not my first choice but my second.

I would have chosen International Negotiation if the class was not full. But I think it was a beautiful twist because my lecturer made law lessons really really fun! Do note that for every module, only one class is available. Once it is full, you would have to make an alternate choice.

First of all, the lecturer was really nice and very open to discussions. She went through lessons by utilising videos of real cases or trials and holds discussion with us on our opinions and afterthoughts of the lessons that she went through. Since we were doing summer class and we have limited class time together, our lecturer allowed us to decide on the topic which we want her to go through in-depth. The class was really enjoyable and I have learnt so much despite it might irrelevant to me and what I majored in.

Like I have mentioned above, you could only take a maximum of 2 modules.
There are 2 sessions of classes being conducted daily (except weekends) - morning and afternoon.

The modules available in both sessions are entirely different, do refer to SKKU ISS website for the courses that they provide.

For the morning session, it starts at 9.30am and ends at 12pm
For the afternoon session, it starts at 1.30pm and ends at 4pm

Between 12pm to 1.30pm, it is lunch break.

If you want to attend the free Korean language class that is available it starts at 4.30pm and ends at 6pm on every Tuesday and Thursday.

For the free Korean language class, you are supposed to indicate the level that you want to attend in the registration page when you register for the ISS programme.

There are two levels available - beginner and intermediate.

However, do note that the lessons are free, but you have to pay ~USD30 for the materials and textbooks.

On the first lesson of the Korean class, there would be a placement test to assess your level of literacy.

This is what happened in my case.

First of all, they would gather everyone who opted for the Korean language class in a room. They would flash a few phrases on the screen, if you could read and understand those phrases. They would move you to a room. The remaining people would automatically be grouped in the beginner class and would start their lesson immediately.

For me, I have taken TOPIK previously. Thus, I have beginner level of proficiency in the language. Hence, I could understand what was displayed on the screen and I was brought to another room with some 30 people to take a written test.

Once we were done with the written test, we would be called out to another room for a simple oral test. From there, the lecturers would assess and allocate us into 2 different classes, level 2 or 3, based on our proficiency in the language.

However if the lecturers find that your level of proficiency is not suitable in the intermediate level (level 2 or 3), you would be referred to the beginner class.

I was allocated to the level 2 class which was not too bad. My classmates were really awesome and fun to be with. The more lessons I had, the more I enjoyed myself in class despite the fact that I would be called up frequently to read the questions or give my answer.

A typical lesson in my class (intermediate, level 2):
My lecturer would start off by revising and teaching us verbs and adjectives.
After which we would refer to the textbook that we were issued, and start on grammar lessons.

For beginner class, you would start off with learning hangeul (한글), the Korean alphabet.
After which, the lecturer would teach you useful words and phrases that you could use in daily lives with the textbook that is provided.

In my opinion, the only disadvantage for taking the free Korean language class is there is no assessment involved thus it would not be credited into your transcript and there is no indication of participation.

Therefore, if you are interested to learn Korean language as a full module and wants it to be credited in your transcript, it is available but you would have to pay for the module fee and it is typically scheduled in the afternoon session and at the end of the semester, there would be an assessment.

Well, this is the end of my experience on module selection and the free Korean language classes.

All the above information are shared based on my personal experience and my friends' experiences in the summer semester.

I hope that this is useful to you and it helps you in your decision making process.

With love.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Jeju Accomodation - B&B Pan Guesthouse

Hi everyone! As per what my title proposes, I will be sharing about the Guesthouse I stayed in while I was in Jeju.

I don't actually have photos of it but I am sure google has tons of them or you can check it out from hostelworld, the website we booked the Guesthouse from.

Our accommodation in Jeju Island was at B&B Pan Guesthouse.
Address: 1410, Geonip-dong, Jeju Island, South Korea
Phone: +82-010-7595-3054 or +82-010-2690-2538
Email: bnbpan@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BnB.PAN

Amount Paid per person: 20 000 won per night (~S$25)
Room type: Basic Twin Private (2 person bunk bedroom with shared bathroom)
Booked from: www.hostelworld.com
Comments:
1) Wifi signal was low in the our room

2) Reasonable pricing

3) Near Dongmun traditional market and underground shopping centres which makes shopping and souvenir hunting really convenient and easy.

4) Location of the guesthouse is in one of the alleys, not along any main road. Thus, it is recommended to go by taxi instead of bus. We assumed that taking taxi from Jeju Airport would cost around 4500 won (~S$5.60) because we took the taxi from the Guesthouse to the Airport on the departure day. On the overall, it was still accessible.

5) Free breakfast from 8am to 9am, the guesthouse owner, Martin, would go to every room to give a "morning call" for breakfast but skipping it is fine (: I myself actually skipped breakfast.

For breakfast, there is scrambled eggs, milk, juice, jam, bread, coffee, tea and yoghurt available.

6) Martin is pretty helpful in providing us with directions on the places that we want to go to. He gave us really detailed explanations on the buses to take, approximate cost to take the taxi and has really good recommendations. However, I would not say that he is extremely approachable but he is generally friendly.

He was really nice as well because on his end, he made a mistake in the bookings so we were being allocated to a room which he thought was not so ideal for us and insisted in changing our rooms which we declined because we were lazy to move our heavy luggage upstairs and since it was just for a few days, it does not matter much to us. But we were totally cool with the room and even though he said that the room we were in was really noisy and all, but the noise level was acceptable.

Martin has also set out some community rules which I felt was well enforced.

7) The bed has a heating system which makes it really comfortable if you adjust it to the right temperature.

8) Language is not too much of a problem as long as you speak slowly, using simpler vocabulary.

9) The room we went to was clean and free towels were provided though we did not use them.

Rating:
Price: 4 out of 5
Guesthouse Environment: 3.5 out of 5
Guesthouse Surrondings: 3.5 out of 5
Guesthouse Accessibility: 3.5 out of 5
Guesthouse Location: 3.5 out of 5
Cleanliness: 4 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Wifi signal: 2 out of 5


Overall satisfaction: 3.5 out of 5

According to our research at the point when we made our booking, B&B Pan Guesthouse was the Guesthouse that stood out in terms of pricing and environment based on the online reviews and photos.

I would not say that this was the best place that I have stayed in for my entire trip but if you are pretty easy-going and are on a budget trip, B&B Pan Guesthouse is not too bad a choice.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jeju Island (Jeju-do) Day 3

This is day 3 and technically the last day of my Jeju trip.
If you are interested in what I did for the 1st two days of my trip, click here to read more.

On the 3rd day we booked a tour with the Guesthouse for 50000 won (~S$62.50) per person which we found quite worthwhile because in contrast with booking a taxi with an English-speaking driver costs around 150 000 won (~S$187.50)

After discussing and comparing, we both felt it was cheaper to book the tour provided by the Guesthouse. Best of it all, the tour has only both Rita and I, so we can decide where we would like to go and we can proceed at our own time.

There are two tours available: Jeju City and Seogwipo, which is East course and West course of the tour respectively.

Here is the brief itinerary for the tours stated by the Guesthouse but it can be changed:
East course: Woljeongri Beach > Manjanggul > Yongnunyi Oreum > Seopjikoji > Seongsan Ilchulbong
West course: Geumneung Beach > Suwolbong > Mt. Songaksan > Yongmeori Coast > Mt. Sanbangsan

Rita and I did our research, even though Seogwipo has more sightseeing sites, both of us prefer to tour around the East course more. 

If you are staying over at Bnb Pan Guesthouse and would like to go on the tour, it would be good to inform Martin, the Guesthouse owner before you arrive, indicate your interest to him but he might not be very responsive online. Otherwise, inform Martin again when you arrive at the Guesthouse for check-in.

As per mentioned, both of us chose to go on the East Course.

We were brought around to a number of places, we even went to places which is out of the itinerary but places that our guide, Shinee, felt it was worth going. Since we went Hallasan for mountain climbing the day before, we were quite tired and had muscle aches all over, we ended the tour earlier.

The tour started at 10am, where Martin brought us to meet Shinee with his yellow bus.
Throughout the trip, it was truly tough for Shinee because Rita and I are people who are pretty anti-social so Shinee did a lot of talking to lighten the atmosphere and he tried to be as enthusiastic as possible. But his effort paid off, because towards the end of the trip, we were more chatty and engaging.

Before our tour, we consulted Yang and Thomas on places that we should go to and things to look out for and what not. Their advice were somewhat helpful especially in Manjanggul, which I will tell you why later!

Also, in this post, I will not go into details of the history and the features of those places that we have visited. I am sure google can give you the answer to those questions. I will be sharing the photos Rita and I took, where we went so that you can use it as a reference if you intend to tour around Jeju.

First up, we went to Hamdeok Beach








The next place we went was to Manjanggul Lava Tube/ Manjanggul Cave






Okay, as I was saying Yang gave us some advice which was really helpful and I am going to share it with you.

When we were touring around, we wore sports shoes because of the comfort that it gives especially having to walk for such long distances. But we immediately changed into slippers before arriving at Manjanggul.

The floor is really slippery in Manjanggul and it is really wet due to the water droplets dripping down so instead of getting our sports shoes wet, we changed into slippers. If you don't mind getting your shoes wet, you may just carry on wearing whatever you are wearing but I would advise you to wear something that is easier for you to clean after you walk out of Manjanggul.

Another thing is, please bring a jacket or an outerwear, preferably waterproof. It is FREEZING cold inside Manjanggul and the water droplets are constantly dripping. Wearing something waterproof would help you in the ease of cleaning.

The total distance that is opened to tourist is 1km which takes about 30 mins to walk to and fro.

When you are approaching the end of the tunnel, this is what you would see.


An over-exposed photo of Rita and I
Inside Manjanggul, we found it exceptionally difficult to take photos due to the low lighting environment and it can be really dark and difficult to walk. I turned on my phone's flash throughout half the journey so that we could see the road properly. Oh yes, I even fell down when we entered Manjanggul. Please be really careful when you are in there.

After Manjanggul, we went for lunch at a nearby restaurant and we had bibimbap.
It was a really traditional restaurant which looked like a residential area more than a restaurant.
The bibimbap we had was 짱 (jjang)! 

After lunch, Shinee brought us to Gimnyeong Beach which I felt was prettier than Hamdeok Beach.

The blue gradient of the sea was lovely.











Next location is Seongsan Ilchulbong
Another place that got me all crazy with the climbing but it was really beautiful when you reach the peak. However, if you compare it with photos you have seen for tourism purposes, the peak looks better in aerial view than the actual view we see when we are at the peak.

Before getting there, we went to a grassland where you could take a photo with Seongsan Ilchulbong as the backdrop and we could see U-do as well. But when we were there, it was a little hazy so we could not snap a proper photo of U-do.





At Seongsan Ilchulbong,









After which, we went to Seopjikoji which has nothing much to see in our personal opinion, and climbing was involved so we just stood afar and took a photo of it.


We went to a beach near Seopjikoji for horse-riding because Rita wanted to give it a try.
It was 5000 won for 5 minutes which is not too bad if you want to experience horse-riding.



By then, both of us were really tired from all the walking and climbing. As Shinee was driving us around to other locations, we told him to just drive past those places instead of dropping us off.



Rita, me and Shinee with his yellow mini bus
After touring around, Shinee actually suggested to go for dinner at some sushi place which was cheap and good but Rita and I were really tired from all the walking and we wanted to explore the market and underground shopping centres near the Guesthouse, so we decline his suggestion.

He then drove us back to the Guesthouse at about 6pm instead of 8, 9pm that was communicated to us beforehand.

On the right is a photo of us together with Shinee.

Some things to note, admission fee is needed at Manjanggul Cave and Seongsan Ilchulbong.
For foreigners, please remember to bring your passport for the discounted ticket rates!

All in all, this tour kinda concluded the Jeju trip for Rita and I since we were flying back to Seoul the next morning.

After getting back, we slacked for a while in the Guesthouse before exploring the market and underground shops nearby.

Dongmun Traditional Market with loads of Hallabong

And we had our best meal aka our comfort food in Jeju at Han's Deli which is apparently like a chain franchise because we found two outlets in Myeongdong! (:

It feels really good to be having our comfort food rather than Korean food. I know we are weird but comfort food meant so much when almost every meal we had was spicy and we could not handle spicy food very well.

But the meal at Han's deli was really affordable and yummmmmmxzxz. The food portion is huge.

For the set at the top costs around 5900 won which is ~S$7.40 and for the set below is around 3900 won which is ~S$4.90.

Oh yes, the shop owner is really nice tooooo.

If you need some comfort food in Korea, try Han's Deli!


After dinner, we walked around to get some souvenirs and then we got back to the Guesthouse, started packing our luggage and slept really early because we had to catch the first flight the next morning.

Though our trip in Jeju seemed like we did not maximise our time to do loads of sightseeing and things that most tourists did but I felt that doing things at our own pace, slowing down our steps, immersing in the local culture, embracing ourselves in Mother Nature is not too bad either.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this final entry on my Jeju trip as much as I have enjoyed recalling the things that I did in Jeju.

In the next entry of my travelogue series, it would be combined with my Summer Semester series with the tourist attractions that our school brought us to. Please stay tuned to it. I will continue my next Summer Semester entry soonnnnn!

For now, thank you for reading this! Have a great day ahead and I'll see you back here again!

With love.