Korea Exchange – Week 1

Well I made it through my first official week as an exchange student here at PKNU (marking 2.3 weeks in South Korea) and I have to say, for the most part, I’m totally loving it.

The only area I struggle with is socially… I’m totally clumsy when it comes to this and have misplaced my confidence somewhere in my dorm room. Come the end of the week the partytimes happen and… well… I’ve done the drinking and partying thing and am practically an old lady when it comes to going out… I’m more than happy to nest at a nice ‘pub’ somewhere with good/quirky (not too loud) music, some beers, maybe a meal to share if peeps are hungry and loads of laughs. That way I can talk to people and learn about them and their cultures and backgrounds, what they want to get out of this experience and what motivates them. I’m curious to know more about my fellow students from all around the world and their journey.

Given my social anxieties, I’m less enthusiastic about awkwardly flailing embarrasingly “dancing” to doof doof “music” in a loud club… Nanna just wants to hang out early & be chill before curfew peeps… that’s pretty much it… have the fun for her and share the deets after 5am haha!

Aside from this personal reflection, classes were fantastic in week one and I’m very excited to be getting into them. It was slightly confusing when I turned up to class on Thursday and discovered that my professor had taken an emergency trip overseas. Apparently we were supposed to be notified but there had been an unfortunate error. It was a good error though, especially as I had urgent things to attend to for the program I’m assisting with for work… don’t even… the interwebs & it’s cousin stupid ‘technology’ hated us for a few hours that day but we made it through and kicked some major goals.

My classes during my exchange semester are:

  • Economic Geography of Europe and Asia

This is brilliant and the professor makes it fun and understandable. I’m fortunate that the classes I have are 100% in English (apart from Basic Korean which.. well… duh). By the end of semester I hope to know as much as possible about the formation of the EU, the Eurozone, the 3 pillars and the geography itself of the region… I know Norway is near Sweden right?

  • International Relations and World Politics

Just as ‘meaty’ as the EconGeog class and I love the knowledge of the professors and how much I am learning already. I have a presentation/report to do for extra credit and will be working my way through the reading this weekend at a cafe somewhere near campus.

  • Basic Korean

Finally my Korean language skills are improving every day, with great help from this class… I was even able to read the menu and order dinner tonight (correctly) for 4 people with all the correct politeness and will pop a blogpost on this dinner as well as a post with some key terms you would do well to know.

Importantly: I think the very next thing I will be learning is how to instruct a cab driver to get me to the dorms before the 0100 curfew. Will certainly relieve the inevitable anxiety that comes from the disorientation of not having ones bearings, any significant language skills or a time machine should something break. 

So here is to week two and shaking off the nerves and social awkwardness that have crept back in… It has only been one week but there is already so much that I am learning about myself and what I enjoy/want to do… next step is to look at how to change the ‘thinking’ now that I’ve had time to reflect on its unhelpfulness.

In blog news: Throughout semester I plan to do quite a lot:

  • Visit the Unesco site here in Busan;
  • Go shopping in Soemeyong;
  • Visit the UN Peace Memorial;
  • Take a trip to Seoul to visit the Castle/Palace & Australian Embassy;
  • Possibly get over to Jeju Island;
  • Go to a couple of Cat Cafes *more than once; and
  • Definitely get to the Totoro Shop in Hongdae!

Stay tuned for posts on these visits as well as:

  • some more PKNU FiSH;
  • delicious Hangug-eo Sigsa’s; and
  • a new series called PKNU PEEPs where I interview a new friend/group each week throughout the semester.

Have a great weekend all.

-Cate

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