Korean at SOAS: The First Year Watch

umbrellala
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Hi everyone!

Welcome to my diary for the next year which will document what my first year is like! If you're interested in Korean, Japanese, or studying at SOAS then hopefully this will be useful for you to get a feel for what to expect or help you decide if it's something you'd like to pursue. And it should be a nice outlet for me to share how things are going.

For some general background info, the course I am studying is BA Korean (not the same as Korean Studies at SOAS, but equivalent to Korean Studies everywhere else) and I'll be living in London in student accommodation. I'm pretty familiar with London since my parents work there and I visit often, so if you're looking for someone's experience of moving to London from elsewhere then this might not be the most useful place for that, sorry! If you're interested in applying to Korean or something similar, I have a thread of my experience and advice here and you can always reply here or send me a PM if you have any questions. **Before anyone else asks, I have my full personal statement uploaded on that thread too! Please check there first before asking me PS-related questions**


Please be patient with how often I update as I will (of course) be quite busy but I'm sure I'll be back whenever there's news. If there's anything specific you're curious about please let me know, and enjoy!


Contents:
1. The first week
2. Lectures begin
3. Mid-terms
4. My thoughts on the course
5. A review of Dinwiddy House
6. A day in the life
7. Year abroad briefing
8. Year abroad choices
9. Easter break
10. FAQ Part 1: The course
11. FAQ Part 2: The year abroad
12. FAQ Part 3: Student life
13. The end of first year
14. Results



Spoiler:
Show








Tagging people I know are interested in applying to Korean/SOAS. Good luck to you all and let me know how you do!
Mynxas
muntaha2001
AyPapi
M.o.l.l.y_G
(more to be added)
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M.o.l.l.y_G
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Tysm this will be so helpful😇🎉🙏
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Mynxas
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Aww, thanks for the mention! Will be looking forward to your updates on your university life (:
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YasudaSayo
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I'm interested in doing Japanese at SOAS, I have 2 questions if you don't mind
1- What do you mean by BA korean being like korean studies everywhere else? is it less focused on the language (and more focused on the culture) than BA korean courses at other unis?
2- what did you do at college/sixth form to get in?

<3
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umbrellala
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(Original post by YasudaSayo)
I'm interested in doing Japanese at SOAS, I have 2 questions if you don't mind
1- What do you mean by BA korean being like korean studies everywhere else? is it less focused on the language (and more focused on the culture) than BA korean courses at other unis?
2- what did you do at college/sixth form to get in?

<3
Hi!
1. SOAS has two separate courses for those who want to study Korean, BA Korean being the more language-focused course with a year abroad, and Korean Studies being the more culture-focused course without the year abroad. All other unis only have a Korean Studies course which is equivalent to BA Korean at SOAS. At other unis, Korean Studies does have a year abroad and equally weights language and culture, as does BA Korean at SOAS. So:
SOAS BA Korean = Other BA Korean Studies courses
SOAS BA Korean Studies = less language focused than SOAS BA Korean and other uni's BA Korean Studies
if that makes sense? It's kinda confusing sorry :/ It might be better explained on the course pages here and here. Or if you are interested in the Japanese equivalents, here and here

2. I did Biology, Chemistry, Government & Politics, and an EPQ related to Korea. So I didn't do a language, but I have a language GCSE which I took fast-track (so took my exam after a 1yr accelerated GCSE course rather than the normal 2yr course)
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YasudaSayo
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(Original post by umbrellala)
Hi!
1. SOAS has two separate courses for those who want to study Korean, BA Korean being the more language-focused course with a year abroad, and Korean Studies being the more culture-focused course without the year abroad. All other unis only have a Korean Studies course which is equivalent to BA Korean at SOAS. At other unis, Korean Studies does have a year abroad and equally weights language and culture, as does BA Korean at SOAS. So:
SOAS BA Korean = Other BA Korean Studies courses
SOAS BA Korean Studies = less language focused than SOAS BA Korean and other uni's BA Korean Studies
if that makes sense? It's kinda confusing sorry :/ It might be better explained on the course pages here and here. Or if you are interested in the Japanese equivalents, here and here

2. I did Biology, Chemistry, Government & Politics, and an EPQ related to Korea. So I didn't do a language, but I have a language GCSE which I took fast-track (so took my exam after a 1yr accelerated GCSE course rather than the normal 2yr course)
Thank you!! Would it possible to get in with an extended diploma BTEC + an A Level language? Also what do you wanna do after uni? I like the language but idk if I'm really interested in any of the job prospects lol, maybe I shouldn't follow through with this
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umbrellala
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(Original post by YasudaSayo)
Thank you!! Would it possible to get in with an extended diploma BTEC + an A Level language? Also what do you wanna do after uni? I like the language but idk if I'm really interested in any of the job prospects lol, maybe I shouldn't follow through with this
I'm not sure about BTECs, it's probably best to email an admissions tutor (if you can find their email) or [email protected] to ask.

To be honest, I'm not really sure yet! I'm a very indecisive person and I like to keep my options open. For now, I'm planning on seeing which parts of the course I like. I know I'd like to teach English in Korea for a year or two at some point, and I'll consider a masters once I get towards the end of my degree. Beyond that, if I end up liking the language itself I might go into interpretation. If I like the cultural stuff, maybe continuing with academics and doing research. I've always been really interested in going into the diplomatic civil service fast stream, so that's always an option too regardless of whether I do a masters, go to Korea for a year, or whatever else ends up happening. I'd recommend looking into all the potential job options, I think you'd be surprised how many paths you can follow, especially with a Japanese degree which tends to have a few more options than Korean (especially in business and finance). You might end up finding something you like the look of
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YasudaSayo
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(Original post by umbrellala)
I'm not sure about BTECs, it's probably best to email an admissions tutor (if you can find their email) or [email protected] to ask.

To be honest, I'm not really sure yet! I'm a very indecisive person and I like to keep my options open. For now, I'm planning on seeing which parts of the course I like. I know I'd like to teach English in Korea for a year or two at some point, and I'll consider a masters once I get towards the end of my degree. Beyond that, if I end up liking the language itself I might go into interpretation. If I like the cultural stuff, maybe continuing with academics and doing research. I've always been really interested in going into the diplomatic civil service fast stream, so that's always an option too regardless of whether I do a masters, go to Korea for a year, or whatever else ends up happening. I'd recommend looking into all the potential job options, I think you'd be surprised how many paths you can follow, especially with a Japanese degree which tends to have a few more options than Korean (especially in business and finance). You might end up finding something you like the look of
I've emailed a couple unis in the past (including soas) and they've all said btecs are fine as long as I get the grades. I feel like my chances would be very low though so I'll be doing A Level Russian on top of that during a gap year (I'm bilingual so hopefully it'll be a breeze), hopefully that'll boost my chances? 😅 I'll just have to wait and see I guess.

Thanks! That sounds a lot more interesting than what I had previously heard of Civil service sounds very interesting to me.

Anyways, enjoy your time at SOAS! I'll stick around to read all your updates, I'm very curious
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umbrellala
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The First Week
Freshers is officially over, and what a crazy week it has been! I'm not even sure where to start... Move-in day was extremely stressful but we got all my stuff in pretty quickly, filled out all the paperwork and then went out for lunch with my parents and sister. After that, they chucked me out of the car, hugged me goodbye and that was it. I was officially on my own. The rest of that day was spent unpacking everything and trying to find space to put things, hanging up photos, decorating, and in general making it a bit more homely. I met all of my flatmates (bar the elusive Japanese exchange student), but everyone was really welcoming and chatty. Surprisingly, it's an all-girls flat despite none of us having applied for one, and this seems to be quite common throughout the accommodation. I would've quite liked a mixed flat just because my course is very girl-heavy too and it's nice to have a balance (I went to a mixed school as well, so I'm used to having both around), but there haven't been any problems so far. I did have tickets to go out on the Sunday but I ended up not going since I was absolutely shattered and none of my flatmates were going either.

Talking of going out, if you're the kind of person that wants to be going out every night of freshers or needs to party at least once a week, then this is not the uni for you. Sheffield would probably be a much better option. At home, I usually go out drinking/clubbing every fortnight, so I'm not a huge party person but I do enjoy going out. Even for me, I wish I could've gone out more during freshers. Of course, there are loads of options and there are freshers club nights on every night during the week, but finding people to go with can be difficult, particularly if your flat aren't that into it. I'm not going to sugar-coat it, SOAS freshers isn't the best, I was talking to my flatmates about it a few nights ago and they all agree. There are some good events, but day-time events in particular seem to be for very specific groups of people so you can have days where you have nothing on until 6pm. For me, that wasn't really a problem because I busied myself with other things, but if you're someone that gets homesick then it could make things difficult.

Saying that, I did meet some really lovely people and got to know some of the girls from my course. If I'm going to give one piece of advice it's to join group chats! I often have the SOAS freshers and accommodation chats on mute because they can get a bit hectic, but the Korean chat has been great for meeting up with people. Try to chat to as many people in person as you possibly can, especially people at your departmental welcome who you'll be spending the next 4 years with. There was also a pizza in the park event on the first day which was really helpful for meeting people from all over the uni and getting you more comfortable with meeting people. It was overwhelming at first, but definitely worth it.

To wrap up what freshers week was like for me: weird. That's the only word I can really use to describe it. The whole week felt as though I was on this big summer camp/school trip since everything is so foreign, all the people are new, and you're trying to learn how to live alone in the middle of it all. I was very slightly homesick on the first night, but since then I've been fine (it's worth noting that I've never been a homesick person, though) and for the most part it's been good fun. It was extremely tiring - spending all day socialising and trying to make conversation is apparently a lot of hard work haha - but all in all a positive week.

We were also given our timetables! As you know, my course title is BA Korean but my optional module is Intro to International Relations.

Monday: 9am-11am Elementary Korean Tutorial

Tuesday: 9am-11am IR Tutorial
3pm-5pm Elementary Korean Tutorial

Wednesday: 9am-11am Elementary Korean Tutorial
11am-1pm Modern Korean History Lecture

Thursday: 9am-11am Elementary Korean Tutorial

Friday: 1pm-3pm Elementary Korean Tutorial
3pm-5pm Introduction to IR Lecture
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Mynxas
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That was a good read, even if it's only fresher week. I would have thought people would at least want to experience a night club once in their time at London(If they are first-timer etc, cause I know I do, I'm just too awkward to socialize and ask people lmao). I have a few people I know that go clubbing very frequently around here, maybe they are still adapting to life around?

Looking forward to how classes will be from you!
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AyPapi
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Thanks for updating about freshers! I'm a very awkward antisocial person so I guess that freshers at SOAS might be okay 😬 I have no idea ofc lol How easy is it to make friends there? Good luck with your classes!!
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astro-yeol-ogy
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Hello!
I am currently in the process of applying for TESOL & Korean at the University of Central Lancashire, but I'm struggling with my personal statement due to there being very very limited examples of people applying to Korean courses. Would you be able to share what you wrote about to get accepted at SOAS?
Thank you
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umbrellala
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(Original post by astro-yeol-ogy)
Hello!
I am currently in the process of applying for TESOL & Korean at the University of Central Lancashire, but I'm struggling with my personal statement due to there being very very limited examples of people applying to Korean courses. Would you be able to share what you wrote about to get accepted at SOAS?
Thank you
Hi, yes my personal statement is in my 'Applying to Korean' thread linked in the original post (but here's the link too). Check the contents of that thread and it should be easy to find
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umbrellala
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(Original post by AyPapi)
Thanks for updating about freshers! I'm a very awkward antisocial person so I guess that freshers at SOAS might be okay 😬 I have no idea ofc lol How easy is it to make friends there? Good luck with your classes!!
Honestly, it's not the easiest. Meeting people through classes is definitely the easiest way to go, but if you want to make friends outside of your classes then you have to be comfortable with putting yourself out there. (sorry for the late reply!)
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umbrellala
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Lectures Begin
We're now just beginning the fourth week of lectures here, which is madness. Time has absolutely flown by and I've been so caught up in it all that I haven't been able to update in a while (sorry!) but luckily I have a spare hour or so so that I can type this up.

The first week of lectures was a nice gentle start, which I was very grateful for. If you're familiar with the alphabet and the basic introduction phrases (ie. how to say your name, nice to meet you, the different ways to say goodbye, excuse me etc) then you'll find the first week very easy. More than anything, it was good to get to know our teachers and classmates, and to in general get comfortable with the class structure. The 3 teachers I have for Korean this year are Ju Seonsaengnim, Lee Seonsaengnim, and Yeon Seonsaengnim. If you were at the undergrad open day last Saturday (20th Oct) then Ju Seonsaengnim was the teacher that ran the Korean language taster! They're all good teachers and I've found all of their lessons to be useful and easy to follow so far, but I can talk more about them individually if the teaching style here is something you're interested in.

Second week was more difficult, not necessarily because the content was hard, but because the workload started to increase. If you've done around half of level 1 of TTMIK (like I had before starting) then the first two weeks and a bit of week 3 will just be revision for you. One thing I was surprised at was, especially in Yeon Seonsaengnim's lessons, you are expected to be comfortable speaking in front of the class from the get-go. He will frequently put you on the spot and expect you to be able to continue the conversation with him in front of the class, or will watch whilst you and a classmate have a conversation in front of everyone with the occasional prompt. Personally I think it's a great thing as it gets you used to having to actually speak and means you get quite close to your classmates pretty quickly. Lee Seonsaengnim also likes to watch you write your answers as you do it, and will always point out exactly what you're doing wrong which can be a little intimidating, but it's the best way to learn. Modern Korean History (the compulsory module in 1st term) started to get more interesting in second week but the reading started which meant more work!

Third week is how I imagine the rest of the year will be work-wise. For context, I have 10hrs Korean language a week, 2hrs Korean History lectures, 2hrs IR lectures and a 1hr IR tutorial. We get around 1hr of Korean homework every day and readings for both IR and History. IR and History have about 4-5hrs reading per week (sometimes a little bit more) and that's just the required readings. We also have mini tests for language every Monday. So all in all, the workload is... a lot. You have to be prepared for a lot of hard work and not a lot of downtime if you want to do well, so keep that in mind if this is something you're interested in. You've also got to take into account that things like housework and cooking take up time too, so it can sometimes be a struggle to do everything you need to and still have time to socialise. This is by no means an easy degree and you definitely need the drive to do it!

So far, I have really been enjoying the course. I'm not having any second thoughts or regrets about Korean at all, which is something I was worried would happen. It has been nice to get stuck into something that I do actually want to study and having goals to work towards has given me a lot more focus after a very chilled out summer. The workload is crazy (especially compared to what a lot of my friends at other unis have) but I know it's for a reason. Hopefully the next few weeks won't get too much harder...

Also a reminder that anyone putting their finishing touches on their personal statement is welcome to pm me! I also have a full example of my PS in my Applying to Korean thread (which is linked in the original post of *this* thread) since so many people have been asking for it. Best of luck <3
Last edited by umbrellala; 1 month ago
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hypotrochoids
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Ooh this is really interesting to read, I'll be applying to SOAS Korean course for next year. It's really helpful that you're posting this! Can I ask, are you staying in the SOAS halls (Dinwiddy House?) or are you with another company?
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umbrellala
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(Original post by hypotrochoids)
Ooh this is really interesting to read, I'll be applying to SOAS Korean course for next year. It's really helpful that you're posting this! Can I ask, are you staying in the SOAS halls (Dinwiddy House?) or are you with another company?
I am staying at Dinwiddy! I can write more about halls specifically if that's something you're curious about. Have you already sent off your UCAS?
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umbrellala
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Mid-terms
Today I had my first official assessment for Korean language! As I've mentioned before, we do have small tests/quizzes every Monday, but on top of this we are assessed towards the end of every 6 weeks. These have more significance in terms of your year abroad university choices and are seen as the biggest indicators of your performance by the department.

This test in particular seemed to be especially important. Our teacher had told us not to worry too much, but then proceeded to tell us that if we do badly, we could be asked to change our degree title/course and our results may be considered if we apply to an over-subscribed university for the year abroad (which is very likely to happen). So it turns out we had plenty of reasons to worry! The content of the test itself was quite difficult too, especially considering the fact that we would be tested on things we had only been taught a few days beforehand, leaving little time for it to sink in and process properly. In the past few days, I've had to memorise around 100 words which were all new to me - quite a daunting task when I hadn't really needed to cram vocab for anything in the previous few weeks, since we'd been learning it more naturally. It was incredibly intense revision but I got it done eventually! And somehow managed to get a good nights sleep.

Thankfully the test itself wasn't too bad. It was an hour long and had three sections. In the first section, there were around 15 sentences in Korean with a verb missing. The verb to fill in was given in English so we had to translate it and conjugate it. Once we'd done that, all 15 sentences had to be translated into Korean. For the second section, there were another 15 sentences in English which we had to translate into Korean (this was probably the hardest section). The last section was reading comprehension. It was an email of around 10-15 lines long and we had to answer a few true or false questions that were written in Korean based on the contents of the email. I managed to finish it in about 40mins and didn't come across anything that I was surprised by or had no knowledge of, so I think it was alright. Of course, I'm sure I made plenty of mistakes but luckily it wasn't a total disaster.

Hopefully we get our results soon and I can return with happy news
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mollyxoo
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I'd love to hear more about accommodation, if you don't mind? I've sent off my application for Japanese at SOAS but am struggling with what accommodation option to choose. I heard some bad things about Dinwiddy (mice, cockroaches, things being broken and never getting fixed, complaints never being addressed), how are you finding it? Also, good luck with your results!
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hypotrochoids
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(Original post by umbrellala)
I am staying at Dinwiddy! I can write more about halls specifically if that's something you're curious about. Have you already sent off your UCAS?
Yeah please, I'm sure other people would find it interesting too. I was at the open day last Saturday & saw the Urbanest people as well, so I've been browsing their website too. Haven't sent it yet, hopefully soon, I've been out of education for while so I'm getting my manager from work to give me a reference, still waiting on that and tweaking my statement. I'm quite looking forward to the application being over tbh!
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