My experience at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) – Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1, you can follow this link.

After this awesome first semester, we were all anxious about the next one and sad to be divided between multiple classes. But it also meant new friends, and I was wishing to keep on meeting such nice people.

Once again, we had a majority of Chinese people in the class, but once the American and German girls left, first, I was the only caucasian, but apart from a Japanese and a Taiwanese girl, it basically became a Chinese land. The frustrating thing is the language, because obviously, they were all talking in Chinese during breaks, and obviously, I couldn’t understand a thing, which made integration difficult. And at the same time, it was quite impossible not to notice me.

Fortunately, I was not on my own since I had my Chinese 언니 (older sister) from level 3 along with me. Soyeob has been so nice with me, even if, as time passed, I was no model student anymore. She is such a good friend and I miss her so much now!
ANYWAY, Soyeob’s presence mattered a lot, we had a lot of funny times, and she did her best to help me!

Little by little, I got to know my classmate; the kindhearted Taiwanese cutie Pei Wen, the pretty Japanese BTS fan Haruka, the Chinese queen of shopping Yugeol and generous Boheun… Unfortunately, the process took a lot of time, and we got close about the end of the semester. This is one of my biggest regrets.

Actually, it was also difficult because just a few students would come everyday. Level 4 is when students who want to enter regular courses in Korean University usually candidate. They have a lot of paperwork and sometimes interviews, and when they are accepted, they tend not to come to Korean lessons anymore. That is why on the very last day, we were 6 students left. It was sad because it meant I just saw them disappear with no goodbyes, and even if I didn’t know them that much, I still have good and funny memories with them.
I think the saddest people were our teachers, since they put effort into helping us all to pass level 4, and one after another, most of their students left, sometimes without a message. It felt awkward sometimes when they had to teach for 3 students only. And we all just could understand their despair some mornings when the room was nearly empty.

About the lessons, it was pretty different in level 4. I felt that every course was mixed with another. We were learning grammar in conversation course for instance, instead of just using the grammar points of the day while talking. This meant a whole amount of homework and memory stretching, and I was just beginning to get lost. On one side, the Regular Language Program was very intensive. On the other, I also had to study and do a lot of homework for my minor in Communication and Intercultural in France; and both of them made me grow insanely tired.
In December, I would fall asleep every morning during conversation class, which never happened to me before. The first time, I couldn’t believe it, I was sure I was listening the whole time but it turns out the teacher called me unanswered. I failed my midterm exams since I had to send a big homework to France the day before the exams and couldn’t study. I skipped class more and more to have some rest, or to make some time for friends I couldn’t meet otherwise or that needed my help. I finished not even showing up for the finals since there was nothing I could do to pass the level anyway.
Before coming to SKKU, I felt uneasy speaking Korean, but I ended up with a pretty decent languahe level. I talk much more than before and casually, thanks to talking everyday in class and with my friends in Korean. So I’d say it was all worth the effort.
That semester sure was a hard time, but I had my friends to support me and cheer me up! Sometimes, even a nice walk at Naksan park would clear up my mind!

Winter… Once again I discovered a new face of Sungkyunkwan with snow on top of buildings. When it’s snowing in Seoul, it is no joke. One morning, I really felt like it was some sort of snow storm, and we would spot students building snowmen midclass! We gave it a try with Soyeob and my same university friend Emilie, and created a cute little snow bear!

The first snow sure was something for our Pei Wen, which had never seen a single snowflake before and was overly excited. Snow sure has something magical within it that makes you smile and brings you back to childhood.

And then… I had to leave. To say goodbye to all the friends I had been making for 5 months, sometimes without being sure if we will be able to meet again. International friendship is precious but this is a very fragile thing. Until now, we are keeping in touch, and I feel thankful for that, because I don’t feel like letting these wonderful people go away from my life. All I wish is for us to have a reunion someday and create once again dear memories.
Even if my experience was far from perfect, even if I wished I went to a university where there wasn’t as much work so that I could also do what I intended to do apart from learning Korean a bit more, I am happy I was there at that time and lived all these wonderful moments. No regrets.




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