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Adventures in Korea

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One more update – Studies

I was asked to summarize the courses I participated in Korea, here goes!

I chose my courses first time in spring 2010 when I applied for exchange.  I had to apply again in fall 2010 and reselect the courses. The usual problem of not having updated course listing made it pointless – had I known they only offer logistics courses in English during fall semester, I would have gone in fall, but then again it didn’t really matter to me what kind of studies I was to take – I wouldn’t have been able to credit any courses as my obligatory courses in Finland anyways.

So, the final selection of courses happened during Christmas holidays in Finland – in this web service that really, really needs some serious developing. Not that this really is a problem specifically to Ajou – the quality of all solutions related to course administration was poor in Canada, is ridiculous in Finland and makes no sense in Korea.

I decided to choose six courses:

  1. Korean language 1
  2. Ecodesign 1
  3. Ecodesign 2
  4. Introduction to Information Security
  5. Contemporary Issues in Korean Culture and Society and
  6. Biological Wastewater Management

During the course drop period I decided to drop the culture course (it was way too much work and not too much in my scope of interest either), Korean language 1 (Too slow, I learned more drinking with my choir mates) and Biological Wastewater Management (my math level was way below Koreans, I had no means to keep up. This course was basically calculations after calculations).

I ended up with three courses and one club. I think four courses is well enough for exchange students. At least for Finnish students – we are not used to so much homework. The courses are really time consuming in Korea. And your club also takes quite a deal of your time – they are your Korean contact and you need to socialize.

Ecodesign 1 and 2 – first one being theory course and the second a lab course. Professor Lee is a leading researcher in the field, speaks excellent English and demands that from his students (have an English- English dictionary with you in class if you want to impress him), and very demanding. He really appreciates thinking outside the box, so don’t stick to your old ideas. The topic of the course was green design – mostly re-designing and calculating the CO2 imprint. I found the course inspiring – although my Korean classmates were afraid of the professor, he is very demanding.

Introduction to Information Security  by professor Tufail was also an excellent choice. Professor Tufail is a young guy who really can emphasize with students and is understanding, if you have some exchange student stuff going on. Let him know your absences beforehand though, just to make it easier for you both. The course outline is very clear, the coursebook excellent and the exercises reasonable and easy. It’s very easy to get good marks on this course and it’s useful basic knowledge on IT security.

Glee choir – my freetime activity, was my savior. I signed up on during the week they were advertising and they really took me in well. They practice once a week, 3 hours a row plus the separate themes practice a couple of hours a week. There are a lot of guys and a little less girls. People hang out in the club room all the time – they spend their nights there too, if they miss their bus or are too drunk to go home. I really, really recommend them. I just met a couple of glee members a couple of weeks ago – they came to Finland ^^.

One more thing about courses – you need to keep an eye on the course dropping dates – they are really strict.

Rain… or is it 비

Now the mid term exams are finally over.I decided to drop one of the courses – Biological Wastewater Treatment turned out to be too hard for my mathematically incapable self. Other that that I only had one exam (Information Security) and I did fairly well (quiz: 31/40, exam: 56.5/65) – considering I only pseudo studied. The quiz took me 10 and the exam 20 minutes. I love the professor.

On the other hand my ecodesign courses make me sweat. The homework is hard and frustrating and we have a lot of presentations, but it’s exactly what I want to do when I start working. This is what I’m good at. So lately my days have been full of life cycle analysis and MET-matrixes.

Glee club, like the other clubs, was feeding their exhausted members during the exam week. That was our only club activity for that week.

Classes and clubs after midterms have been pretty empty – everybody is on the verge of death after staying up for two weeks in a row. Oh, I heard in Civil Engineering they have this one test that lasts for five days. It’s supposed to be a tradition but that just doesn’t make any sense to me. I guess it’s about construction legislation and strength of materials.

Olympic Park if worth visiting, especially in spring! (The second picture by Jehyung Ryu)

It’s pretty ironic that the weather was awesome during the test week, but a couple of days ago it started raining. I was hanging in the Olympic Park with my friends last Sunday and told them the strong wind we had that day is a sign of an upcoming thunder storm in Finland – and I guess here is no different. No wait, it is! This thunder storm is HUGE and has now been going on for two days. It’s pretty amazing. It stopped for a while yesterday just to give us an opportunity to celebrate Vappu (First of May, Labor Day) in advance, as well as Tha’s releasing from the hospital, Anouk’s graduation and Anouk’s and Cha’s birthday. Lotta even made donuts!

Oh, I almost forgot the cherry blossom pics! Here:

Tomorrow we are off to Taiwan for a week! (Flights and accommodation about 300 e) Yay! I hope it’s not gonna rain, but even if it does, I won’t mind! Yayyy! We won’t miss that many classes since I have Tuesdays off, my Wednesday classes are canceled because the guys in my class are going to military re-training (they call them in every year, different days for different majors) and Thursday is Children’s day – a national holiday.

Speaking of military, our friend Bom had to say goodbye to his childhood and freedom. He started his two years of military service this week. Here some goodbye pics:

But yeah, TAIWAN! ->

Feelin exhausted, creative, and very, very Finnish

Hi dudes!

Next week is the mid-term week and that means a lot here. Even though 벚꽃, cherry blossom, is awesome and everywhere, people are studying like crazy. It even affected my lazy ass and I’ve been studying too. It feels good, to use my little gray cells for something. I don’t take it as far as Koreans – they spend nights at the uni library and even have study group meetings all weekend – but I do use my spare time in the club room, studying, and often stay there until late night. Or… we might do this:

I was a bit concerned when I decided to study in Korea. I knew they are hard ass math freaks (which I surely am not). I thought I would have hard time trying to catch up. I was partly right – they have way better math skills than I do (which on the other hand is not that hard to achieve, I suck), but I also have skills they don’t. Creative thinking, that is.

My teacher (yeah, Mikko) once told me Finns are appreciated because of their ability to think creatively and outside the box. I didn’t really pay much thoughts on that, until now. I find myself being sometimes the only one in my class who can visualize past and future stages or possible variants. Or even draw flowcharts. Or suggest new things or improvements. And this is all thanks to Finnish education system – we do encourage students to think, not just swallow something that the teachers decide to pour in. But I wish teachers demanded more from us. Me – I only do what I have to do, I would never do more.

So sometimes in class I feel utterly stupid, but the next moment I might be the only one who has something to say. It’s partly because I’m years senior to my classmates and partly because I have been through more than they will in next ten years, but also because of the Finnish background. I do realize how little I know. I should study more. A lot. I’ve been lazing around too long. I’m kinda in the verge of finding my thing. Let’s hope I’ll figure it out soon.

Don’t worry, it’s not like I study all the time. I’ve gone to places. To do stuff. Here’s proof:

Picnic at Teletubby Hill. We made Finnish (universal) pancakes with Lotta. And ordered food – the delivery guys know where to take it if you ask them to bring it to Teletubby Hill.

Had some beers with the girls. These are the “side dishes” to go with the drinks (we already ate the mozzarella sticks). These and 3 l of beer cost us 27000w – 19 e.

Went to see cherry blossoms in Seoul, with a friend. This is from Yeouido Park and the general area around.

Of course my camera battery ran out right before we found the cherry trees. But I got a snap from the campus instead, right in front of the Dpt of Engineering

The weekend before our Current Issues course (from which I dropped out) made a field trip to Seoul. So I managed to see the palace I missed on my first week.

In Chinese horoscope I was born on the year of Pig, so I took a picture with this fellow:

In front of the Tourism Bureau Something we saw these dudes, replicating a traditional Korean wedding. Their hats are very fancy and mesmerizing

And we had a party and went clubbing with the professor… but that part of culture we knew fairly well already. The club, btw, was very crowded and full of guys. Dancing guys. Guys don’t dance in Finland.

YEP. Heippa!

PS. I got a package from a dear friend. Salmiakki <3 But now I miss her and Finland even more.