Days 41-44: Studying


I have midterms today and tomorrow, so these past few days, since Friday, have all been studying focused. But hey, at this point I feel like I can ace these midterms, or at least pass without worrying too much.

Well at least what is left of my midterms. I had two exams today and I have three more tomorrow, but let's roll back a few days and take my days from the beginning.

On the Friday, I went to eat lunch with a classmate and friend after class. Since it's holidays for normal students, the student cafeteria is closed, but the teacher's cafeteria is open, so that's where we went.

More classmates showed up, but the cafeteria soon ran out of rice (it's like running out of bread in Europe, it means there is nothing to eat), and the people who still hadn't gotten food ether had to wait or go elsewhere. One of our classmates sat down with us and waited to get his meal.

I had fish and it was nice to get some seafood for a change. I've been eating a lot of chicken (KFC; Korean Fried Chicken is the best and difficult to resist). We were talking and laughing over lunch and when lunch came to an end came the sad realisation: it was time for us to go home and study.

Reluctant to leave we decided to study together. So we headed over to our school building and studied in the "Global Lounge" (it really is called that, I just included the quotations marks to make it more dramatic).

We studied and laughed and talked and laughed some more, until the sun set and then we went out for a nice dinner too. The cheap Bibimbap place that I have showed you before and have gone to twice before with my roommate. As expected it was good, and when we were done eating we walked home and parted ways.

I had gotten some good tips about how to tackle my essay writing exam, which is the one I have been worrying he most about. My listening and readings skills are good as that is all I have been able to improve on these past six years while I have been away from South Korea. I haven't done any writing in Korean for six years though, so I know that I make a lot of mistakes. I haven't done any talking either during those years, but ever since arriving I have been hearing a lot of praise for my talking skills here, so I feel more confident with that.

My Saturday was spent studying and memorizing my essay outlines and reading through the grammar and revising my vocabulary. It was 7pm and dark outside by the time my roommate and I took our first step outside. But this time - finally - we remembered to catch the view of the sunset from our balcony.

It's the first day since arriving that I haven't been out before dark. Yesterday, Sunday, I only went out briefly too. I was revising in the morning and not feeling good during the afternoon, so it was a bit of a harder day.

Today - this morning - was the beginning of my exams.

The first exam day started with a listening test. I really didn't know what to expect.

The test was 60 minutes long and we had only had limited listening practice in class that consisted of one conversation and about five questions for each chapter in the textbook.

The classroom was set up with walls between each seat, and everyone was very serious as I arrived and sat down. No time for jokes this morning. So I sat down too and wondered how difficult it would be. In truth I have sometimes been struggling with the listening questions in the book. I tend to not be able to focus during the entire conversation or I miss certain phrases that are crucial to answer this or that question. But our teacher had also told us that the people on the exam tape spoke a lot slower than the ones we had practiced, so I was feeling like I could do this.

Then I got the paper...

Five pages with two columns full of questions... Five!

And then my teacher says: I will give you seven minutes to read through... Seven? I panicked, a little bit. I read as fast as I could, but I still only managed to read the first three and a half page.

"I'll play the tape now," says the teacher.

The questions were divided into different headings. What we practiced in the book was one long conversation with five questions we had to answer. So naturally I think that the exam will be the same, and I am going to have to remember every single detail to be able to answer all five of these questions.

The people on the tape begin talking and about a minute later they're done. It was a very short conversation. It is played to us twice. I look down at my paper and answer the first question. I only manage to read half of the second question again before the tape continues with a new conversation.

This was the moment when I realised my luck. It was one short conversation for one question. At least at the beginning... The last three pages were one longer conversation for four questions, exactly like the book.

I was very certain with almost all of my answers so I feel like I aced that one. I predict.... a score of 88/100.

The speaking test however... Oh yes, we had a speaking test today as well. A ten minute speaking test that covers three different topics. One is a conversation with the teacher, and the next two are monologues...

Last Friday, at the end of class, we picked our exam order. I had gotten a late number, although I really really wanted an early number. I just wanted to get it over with and out of the way, because the longer I wait, the more nervous I become.

I was so sad that I had picked a late number, and I was pretty vocal about it. Eventually a nice classmate took pity on me and exchanged his number with me. So I ended up being seventh in line. The number was a whole hour earlier than the one I had picked, and I was (and am) ever thankful.

My name in Korean is 칠 (Chil) which means Seven, and I ended up being the seventh person to take the exam. I saw it as a clear good luck sign and I'll still insist that it is, even though the exam itself was...

I entered the room and all was fine. The teacher smiled and had me pick a number from the magic blue pouch. A number that would determine what my conversation and two monologues would have to be about. I picked number 4. All was fine.

He bring out the paper that states what I will need to do and briefly explain and then we launch into a conversation. I don't recall what I said. I just know that I remembered a least one thing from the book. And then I need to start my first monologue, and I just go blank. I couldn't remember how to say anything.

Not just in Korean. In any language.

I stall, and then my mouth goes into auto-polite and just starts talking and saying random sentences and the teacher tries to direct me the right way and I try to do as asked, but it's just not happening. And for the second monologue I am now really panicked and I had to read it three times to understand what in the world I had to do and even then I forgot some things...

In a very unfortunate split moment decision, the last sentence of my monologue ended with the words: "lets... stop this now..." which ended up sounding more like a plead to the teacher who was clearly very perplexed and confused by this whole thing. I usually always do well in speaking.

That was that. Predicted score? I am hoping for 62/100, because with that score I can pass.

I have to get an average of 70/100 and I can't get under 60/100 on any given test. With a 62, I still think that I can pull my score up to over 70 with the listening exam and the three exams I have tomorrow, and I really do hope that I will pass.

At least now the Speaking Exam is over. And I also know that I couldn't have done any better even if I had studied more. I knew the materials, but I just went blank. It can happen, and tomorrow will be better.

#Ewha #Seoul #SouthKorea

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Thilde Kold Holdt

I am a novelist by profession, currently working an epic fantasy series about 7th century Korea. My epic fantasy trilogy about Vikings, the Hanged God, is currently being published. I have lived

enough different places that the most difficult question to answer is: "where are you from?" I am, quite simply, from the planet Earth, for I have yet to set foot on Mars. Someday, though...

© Thilde Kold Holdt