Around 400 of us scholars attended the Korean Government Scholarship Program Orientation at Commodore Hotel in Gyeongju last August 30-31. The students came from various countries around the world to pursue Masters and Doctoral Degrees here in Korea. The underlying reason for this program is to promote mutual understanding between Korea and other countries.
Students who passed TOPIK level 5-6 were exempted on the one year compulsory Korean language course; thus, were expected to start their degree this fall semester. The remaining scholars though were distributed in five Korean Universities for the language course and has to pass at least TOPIK level 3 to start their program. These universities are Inha university, Jeonju University, Keimyung University, Sunkyumkwan University, and Silla University.
Several words of encouragement were given to hopeful scholars. In summary, the NIIED and some alumni advised scholars to be passionate in learning the language and to practice it day by day. However, they kept on reminding everyone that passing the TOPIK 3 was difficult. Nonetheless, instead of being glum about my Korean proficiency, I felt challenged and more dignified to accomplish the purpose of my stay here.
Say, I am so lucky to accept a great challenge here in Korea [NIIED President Ha, Tae Yoon]
Sincerity and honesty always works. [Kim, Jin Hyung]
After the orientation, there was a little talent show from those who volunteered to perform. The participants of the show were quite bubbly and a little confident about what they were doing. Some of them dance K-pop and tradition dance of their own country, while the others sang Korean and English songs. I wanted to sing a song but I really didn’t prepare anything (plus, I only sing inside the noraebang and/or inside the bathroom) — perhaps I will do it if I’ll be given an opportunity next time!
The program ended around 9 in the evening, so most of the participants gathered in groups (in small groups from similar language institute) and went out of the hotel. I have been to Gyeongju before and even though I was impressed by the old structures that it has, there is nothing else that you can go to at night. There were no nearby tourist spot in Commodore Hotel nor was there any thing that catches our attention and interest rather. I went out with students mostly from my language institute and we just walked far from the hotel and stopped at this mini bar called Titanic. While many of them drank beer and soju, I tried to stay away from it because we had to wake up at 6AM the next day. I was sort of obliged to introduce soju or maekju and other stuff to my companions as not many of them have been to Korea unlike me, so I told them that soju is a strong drink. Unfortunately, when they drank it most of them said it was too soft and asked me “Have you ever tried vodka?” “No” I replied and the whole night I kept thinking if I should try vodka someday. I felt a little embarrassed, I am not an alcohol drinker – I only knew how to drink these kind of liquids when I first came to Korea (술 문화). Anyway, it started to rain and so we decided to go back to the hotel and that is how our OT Day 1 ended.
Other photos from the orientation: