In the last few weeks, the number of daily infections has spiked in South Korea reaching similar values to the first wave which was in February. Last week the country introduced higher levels of social distancing which meant that various establishments are now under strict health and safety requirements or have even been shut down. This also meant that all education institutes that were conducting offline lessons had to switch back to online lessons or conduct classes with a lower capacity of students.
You may be thinking how does this affect Bua? Hasn’t she been doing online lessons since February? Well, that’s true, I have spent the last nine months doing online classes; however last month as the social distancing levels in Busan changed to level 1 our language school started having alternate weeks of online/offline lessons. In other words, one week I would go to school and have classes in the classroom and then the following week I would have classes online. This was my life for a month, a total of two weeks offline.
Today, I’m going to share my experience having offline Korean classes since I probably won’t be doing that again for the rest of the semester. When the teachers announced that we would be meeting in person everyone was ecstatic. Offline classes meant that I wouldn’t be straining my eyes anymore and could take a break from the computer screen. Offline classes meant that I would get to meet my teachers for the first time this semester and also get to know my classmates better. It also meant that I had to wake up early and face the cold autumn mornings on my way to school. The new commute was longer and colder than the now-familiar commute from my bed to the desk. However, this was a nice change to the routine that I had become accustomed to.
This change didn’t mean that everything was back to normal. There were a few rules and regulations that we had to follow to limit the chance of infection if there was one. First thing every morning, as we entered the school we would get our temperatures checked. If everything was all good we would then get a wristband which indicated that our temperature had already been checked for the day and we were clear to enter other buildings around the university. We also had to sanitize our hands at the front door and it was also recommended to do it again before entering the classroom. In the classroom, we were required to wear our masks at all times and we weren’t allowed to eat in the classroom. We also had to sit at separate desks roughly a meter or so apart. Otter than that everything felt normal. What we did in physical classes was pretty much the same as the online classes. We would start the day with our vocabulary test and then do two hours of grammar and speaking, after that, we would do another two hours of either reading, writing or listening class that prepares us for the TOPIK (test of proficiency in Korean) exam. Once that was over we would either get an hour off for lunch and then return for an afternoon session or we would be done for the day. The afternoon sessions usually consist of Essay writing or culture class.
Offline culture classes are much more fun compared to the online culture classes as we are actually able to explore our city or do things together. Our first culture class was a traditional craft class where we made key chains from mother of pearl shells and resin. This was really fun as I hadn’t done anything crafty for a while; however, compared to my usual crafts this was very tedious and after about an hour I had had enough and spent the rest of the class chatting with my friend (model student behaviour right there >_< ).
Our second Culture class was probably my favourite of the two. I managed to tick off two places from my Busan Bucket List. The first part of our class we went to Jalgalchi market (부산 자갈치시장) which is the most famous seafood market in South Korea. I watched multiple youtube videos of YouTubers visiting or eating at the market. It was interesting and very fishy. I’m not fond of seafood so I don’t think I appreciated as much as I could have but at least I can say I’ve been there. We spent a few minutes walking around and then decided to go to our next location.
The second location was a more traditional Korean Market which is also a very famous market in Korea, Gukje market (국제시장). This market is the setting of a famous Korean movie (국제시장) and it had every type of stall imaginable. There were stalls that sold household goods, traditional medicine, Japanese imported goods (sounds a bit dodgy but there were a lot of them), stalls that sold all the Korean side dishes and most importantly STREET FOOD. Korea is quite famous for its street food and luckily as at the time we were having these classes we were on the lowest level of social distancing and were able to buy street food from the markets. The whole class was quite hungry so our first stop was to a local restaurant. Our teacher treated us all to a meal of our choice and a drink. So a few of my friends and I decided to order something different and share. We ordered, tteotbokki (떡볶이 spicy rice cake dish), Kimbab (김밥 Korean sushi), dumplings(만두) and a variety of fried veggies. This was delicious and once we had all eaten we spent the next two hours wandering around the market. The market was interesting but we soon got really tired and before we knew it we were all on the train back to the dormitory.
Having offline classes was really fun and the two weeks we spent doing offline lessons will probably be the two most memorable weeks from my year of the Korean language course. We might return to them soon if the infection rates go down again but it looks a bit unlikely for that to happen before the end of the semester.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on fun places around Busan that I need to visit during my one year of language study. I’ve made a list of cool places to go and visit which include cafes, lookout spots and tourist attractions. Stay tuned to any updates by subscribing to my blog so you don’t miss out on any new posts! forget to like and subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on any new posts.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below. Stay tuned as I write more about my life as an international student here in Korea.