March 2nd: The Spring Semester Begins!

Chalkboard with words "back to school"

Annyeong!

So I had arrived in Korea for 4 days and now I am currently living in Seoul, South Korea. In Korea, there are two academic semesters each year which are the Fall Semester and Spring Semester. Most Korean universities admit new students twice a year. For Spring semester starting in March applications are usually opened from September 1 to November 30. For Fall semester starting in September applications are opened from April 1 to June 31. Each semester is about 4 months. Vacations are in Summer and Winter, with each vacation each spanning about 2 months. There are also summer and winter classes, and many Korean universities offer Korean Language Courses in summer and winter for international students.

The interesting thing is, unlike in Indonesia, almost all universities start their semester in the exact same day. Today is March 2nd and guess what…it’s the first day of Spring Semester! For the past few days, I always see Korean students in streets, subways and buses bringing small bags to go hang out with their friends. Late at night, they will still be seen in the streets and clubs, playing until midnight or maybe dawn.

But as today is the first day of spring semester, the view changes. Since 8 am in the morning, the subways-buses-and streets are filled with Korean students bringing their laptop and backpacks walking to their own universities, including my university: KyungHee university. Usually, the dorm is still quiet in 9-10 am in the morning as everyone is still sleeping. But today, the dorm is so busy and crowded with students being fully dressed since 8 am in the morning! It’s crazy how they really wake up early to eat breakfast, shower, get make up and dressed nicely to go to the class. They really don’t want to be late at their classes.

Yes, one of the important things in the university life here is your attendance. The attendance is counted as a percentage of your final grade and you must have a minimum of 70% full attendance to be able to join the final exams. If you miss the class more than 30%, then you will be given an “F” grade. So basically, being absent can make you fail immediately. I don’t know how all universities in Indonesia is working but at least in my university in Indonesia, your attendance does not affect your grade. You have a “maximum absence” for each course, depending on the credits. And those attendance only determines whether you are able to take the final exam or not.

During lunch, almost all book stores, libraries and study rooms are occupied with students. I personally think that Koreans really prioritize their study. One of the most common grading system here is called a “relative grading” which means that your grade is affected by the class proportion. For example, only 20% of the class could get an A. The rest got a B, C and D. So that is the reason why everyone seems eager to study. It’s because the competition level among each students are really high here.

20150227_131425

spring semester starts!!

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wearing full gear lol

As for the weather information, it is still really cold here in Seoul. In the morning and night, the temperature could drop to below zero. Sometimes it reaches -7 degree celcius so it is really cold here. Everyone is still wearing jackets and long pants. As for me, who came from a tropical country like Indonesia, wears layers of clothes, gloves, and masks on. Yep.

So wish me luck for the Spring Semester!

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Best regards,

KoreanMate

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