The life of a Korean student

Today class was terribly difficult and I already had a headache at 10 am (lessons start at 9). So naturally at 1pm, when lessons ended, I was exhausted, unfortunately for me I learnt the hard life of a Korean student today.

At 2pm there was a gathering for the students having joined the singing club and together we decided on three songs that we are going to learn. It ended up being two funny songs and one more serious one. The first one was Itaewon Freedom (Itaewon is a district of Seoul know also known as Foreigner town). The second one was Nengmyun (Nengmyun being cold noodles often eaten in summer). And the third and last one was Lonely. (click on the names to see the music video of the songs) As I had predicted earlier in the day Unnie decided to quit the club because of the choice of songs (she is very picky with her music).

Once the meeting was over I just wanted to get home to rest for about half an hour, before starting to study (that I knew would probably take most, if not all, of the day). But as we headed back to our room we saw a curious note on the door and then realised that we couldn’t open the doors, so we had to go around to building A (we live in building B) in order to get back to our room. As we reached the elevator the same note appeared again.

We were both way too tired because of the difficult studying to go somewhere else for five hours so we headed to our rooms, but there a big surprise awaited us.

As we entered our room we immediately noticed that something was different. Because our bathroom doesn’t have a specific place to take a shower, just a shower head (so the entire bathroom gets wet when anyone takes a shower), we  always place a small towel in front of the bathroom so we can dry our feet before heading out of the bathroom when we have taken a shower. Well, today it was gone. We peaked into the bathroom and saw that everything was completely soaked inside. We went in to see where the towel had gone: nowhere to be found. That’s when I saw that the towel that we use to clean the floor with every day was thrown on top of my toothbrush. Yum!

At this point we were already a bit annoyed as we entered the room and felt that the floor was slightly different. When we looked closer we  could see that someone had entered the room with shoes on (in Korea one takes off shoes before entering a room and puts on slippers instead). Since we clean our room so often it was quite a shock. Then we started to see that everything else was dirtier than when we had left it: Unnie’s table had dirty fingerprints on it, for example, and the window (that we had cleaned the previous day) was full of fingerprints again. Our trash bags (that we usually empty and recycle every day) were also gone.

It was around that time that Unnie got really mad and stormed down to the office to shout at someone. According to the sign it was general cleaning day so how come our room was more dirty than usual? At the office of course they just said: ‘oh do you want us to get the cleaning man to clean your room again?’ which, of course, just angered unnie even more. Eventually they told her that we weren’t allowed to be inside the building anyways so we had to pack our bags and leave.


We escaped to a café in town and started our homework there. I started to write down vocabulary in my small vocabulary notebook that I bought yesterday and Unnie opened her notebook, but mainly spent time on Facebook and looking out the window.

At 6:30 pm  we left the café and I bought a new toothbrush on the way home (using the old one would be the same as licking the floor clean).

Back in our room we continued studying and that’s when I suddenly realised that I have been studying for 10 hours today and still have to do homework for tomorrow (that is 6 hours outside of class). I just finished writing notes in my vocabulary book and only have 11 empty pages left. I’ll have to buy one or two more of them some time very soon. But more importantly I still need to learn my vocabulary for tomorrow’s tests.

Ahh, life as a Korean student sure is difficult at times.

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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