KIIP 2단계, Day 2

Day 2. So tired. Everyone is kinda perky from 9:00 – 12:00. Some begin to slow down after coming back from lunch at 12:40. At 4:00-5:30 (last 2 hours), it’s really hard to focus.

We moved from the middle of Lesson 2 (page 25) to halfway through Lesson 4 (page 40). Lots of handouts (for practicing vocabulary and grammar), and reading out loud. The composition part at the end of each chapter kind of stumps me. I try but it’s not easy yet.

I read online that you don’t have to study outside of class. Not for the accelerated class! I’m definitely going to need some time to prepare and review, and everyone else I spoke to seemed to have the same idea. We blazed through half of a previous lesson, a new lesson, and got halfway through another new lesson today. When June hits, we’re going to be doing this on Saturday AND Sunday.

There’s 14 on the roster but only 13 today. None of us recognized the 2 very hairy Pakistani men – this is their first day. At first, I thought that maybe they had been here last week, but hadn’t shaved since.

Took a writing quiz. 10 questions. I got 3 wrong – small mistakes like writing 았 instead of 었. So pissed – it was basic shit that I shouldn’t have been making mistakes at. Will fix. Russia was the only person to get 100%.

I’m a petty, competitive biatch, okay? I want 100%, too.

The factory workers speak better than us, but the teacher rewrote all their sentences and suggested that they rewrite them at home, for practice. The most well-balanced student, I think, is Syria. Syria speaks well, reads hesitantly, but only made 1 mistake on the quiz.

I still think I’m one of the better readers, BUT who gives a shit about reading – it’s conversational speaking that I need.

Russia, Ukraine and I went for juice at the super cheap juice bar that makes my stomach feel funny afterwards. Ukraine was peeved that she phoned her husband and he said he was coming. She did the air quotes thing with her finger and said, “Sure, ‘coming’. He probably just woke up.” We asked her to come with us for juice – if he did come by later, it wasn’t that far from the social welfare center anyway. The shop owner came by our table to give us 3 samples of kiwi juice, and he showed up – obviously a bit late. I gave him my kiwi juice sample because I had already tried it last week. He looked up and saw the menu “Americanos for 1000 won? What!” and promptly got up to buy one.

Ukraine and her husband are at the 2nd interview for My Neighbor Charles. So exciting, I hope they get on it. If it happens, they’ll be filmed for two weeks, and then the episode will air in early July. So exciting! I love the show, and now I’ll know people who have been on it!! If they get through. Which I hope they do.

Later, on the 81 bus ride back to 계양구, Land I realized that we had no idea what Ukraine’s husband’s name was. We giggled: lol how rude of us not to ask! But it’s not like he introduced himself, either.

KIIP 2단계, Day 1

I take back everything I said about wishing I was in 3단계. 2단계 is the right level for me. It’s just enough that I understand what’s going on, and has enough hard stuff to keep me very, very busy.

My class is the only accelerated class in the schedule. It goes from May 15 to July 03. Other classes started today or will start next week, and end in mid-August.

There are 12 people in my class. Nationalities are Vietnam, Mongolia, Ukraine, Russia, Bangladesh, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, China, and America.

The Ukrainian and Russian women are both married to Koreans. One of the students from Bangladesh was so amused at how my parents are of different Asian races, and that I’m classified as American on the class paperwork.

Everyone can speak better than I can, but I think (lol) I can read the best. Not that reading-out-loud skills matters, because I’m not going into academia or public speaking. I would rather have better conversational skills.

It rained when we got out of class, and we also had a problem unlocking the doors to get out of the place. Syria figured out how to unlock the back door (quite simple really… just reach up really high and flip the deadbolts, except everyone else was too short). Russia and I found out that we take the same bus back home, and we ran for it. We got drenched anyway.

I was shivering miserably in the cold at the longest street light ever, to cross the road over to my officetel. It’s 17 C right now which is really nothing, but it felt much colder with the wind and rain.

Hints: Bring 7,000 won in exact change for the book. Nearly everyone seemed to have 10,000 won bills, and the teacher wasn’t able to give change to three people. She will bring change next week. I brought mine in 7 x 1,000 won, and didn’t have to fuss with getting change. Use the change machines in the subway stations!

Naver Dictionary appears to be the best online dictionary available. There’s free unsecured wifi for each floor, so the signal’s pretty strong. Sometimes, several floors will share one wifi point, and of course there’s going to be dead spots … none of that problem here!

How I got here

The five words I knew, going into Korea, in terms of familiarity. I only knew them orally – had no idea how to read or write Korean.

Typical stuff that you, too, might know:

  • 안녕하세요 – Hello.
  • 김치 – Kimchi… duh.
  • 불고기 – Bulgogi. I always forgot this word.

And the other two, from my university days in SoCal:

  • 야해 – Erotic/racy/vulgar.
  • 기린 – Giraffe. A tall friend’s nickname.


First step was to actually learn how to read Hangul. On the plane to Korea, I referred to the famous “learn to read Korean in 15 minutes” comic.

The first in-the-wild thing I read on my own was a sign I kept seeing on lots of windows in town: 임대  (for rent). In retrospect, it’s kind of funny.

On my phone, this is the only app that ever really helped me with Hangul, and I tried loads of them:

  • PopPopping Korean (Android only. There used to be an iPhone version, but it’s nowhere to be seen now)

When I had my computer all set up, this pronunciation chart helped me actually pronounce instead of just think out the sounds:

  •’s Korean alphabet app (dead link)

Edit: That website seems to be dead now. It was an interactive chart where you could click on things like 아 or 어 or 오 or 우 and hear an audio recording of it.


As for books, I went to Kyobo Bookstore and spent about an hour or so browsing through their learn-Korean-through-English books, trying to find the best match for my self-studying style. I thought I’d start with Sogang University and Ewha University’s books, because their Korean classes are so well-known. I quickly came to the conclusion that their books were a supplement to the teacher – you NEEDED a teacher, and self-studying would be tricky. I also looked at Hello Korean (with an idol narrating!), and passed over it – it was written in a good way for self-studying, but only went up to Book 2. I would need to find something after that.

The only university textbook series that suited my ‘style’ (if you can call it that) was Seoul National University’s books. Each level has a textbook and also a student workbook, and the workbook is totally worth it for the practice. I used to be the student that would zone out in class and then learn everything from the book (probably still am), and this one was the series for me.

KIIP results

It turns out that when they mean the results come out on May 11th, they come out as soon as the clock hits midnight and the date changes to May 11th. I found out a few minutes after midnight, when someone from the KIIP test sent me a message asking about how I did.


Prior to taking the test, I have had zero – ZERO – formal Korean-language classes. I entered Korea in 2014 knowing four words in Korean: hello, kimchi, scandalous, and giraffe. Everything else, has been self-taught via Talk To Me In Korean, Seoul National University’s Korean-language textbooks, and eavesdropping/imitating people around me. It’s a miracle I haven’t been arrested for creepiness yet. I would “inconspiciously” linger next to a street food stall instead of walking straight by, to listen to how someone worded their order. (It helps that I look vaguely Korean.)

I tested into Level 2 aka Beginner 2, scoring 36 points out of 100 on the written test – four points (1 question = 2 points) short of testing into Level 3. I don’t know the results of the oral test – no results anywhere.

I did the written test the “correct” way – not answering questions that I couldn’t make head or tail of, in order to get placed into the right level for me. In retrospect, perhaps I should have filled out the entire answer sheet with guesses, in order to place in the highest level possible. With four choices for each question, I had a 25% chance of being correct, right? I’m not sure if this was the right decision, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough. I do feel that I have no business being in Level 3 – Intermediate, though.

I met two Filipino ladies there, and chatted to them in English. One is a housewife, and the other is a night-shift factory worker who described her work as “remote control buttons, all kinds of remote control buttons”. They both tested into Level 3, and I am envious. Maybe I should have randomly circled the questions I couldn’t answer…



Annoyingly, Level 2 doesn’t have ANY classes near me. I can either take a 60-minute bus ride north, or a 90-minute subway+bus combination south to Ansan, aka Asian Foreignerville. This lack of nearby classes is a surprise. It’s not like I live in the middle of nowhere, either. Five minutes away from me is the main city center, and there should be classes available there. Just not Level 2, I guess.

There WAS a 40-student class at Inha University, but that filled up before I even saw it. It looks like there will be a class in the next town over, but I’ve decided to suck it up and deal with the 60-minute bus ride north.

The 60-minute bus ride means going full-speed-ahead, by taking the only accelerated class. I start on May 15, and the last meeting (and level exam) is on July 03. Other classes start around or after May 15, but end in mid-August. I’ll be going to class on Saturdays and Sundays, for around 8 hours each day.

I can’t take online classes either, because – surprise surprise – I work the 9-5 shift, and the classes also take place during 9 am-5 pm. Ha!

Year 3


Two years ago, I told myself: Maybe two years. And here I am with an extension for my third year in South Korea. It’s a great place to be.

Election ballot


I finally got my ballot in the mail! I get a sticker this time – very exciting. I’ve never had an I Voted sticker with my absentee ballot before, and always felt a bit left-out because of that.

I spent two days, two days, fretting over my choices. I couldn’t vote for the presidential candidate choice again, because I had already done that through Democrats Abroad – but of course I’m going to vote downticket.

Angrily voted against the useless local representative Judy Chu, who has an effectiveness rating of 0% and is the 7th least effective member of Congress (and there’s 535 Congress members). And yet somehow, she gets re-elected every time. Merely because of the letter (D) next to her name. I’m also Asian and also a Democrat, but I’m not going to vote for someone just because they’re also an Asian and/or a Democrat. Be useful!

When I was dealing with my FBI criminal background check for my job, I sent the representative’s local office an email through her site, for assistance with this federal agency. You know, the kind of assistance that representatives are supposed to help their constituents with? After a long two weeks, I received a letter in the mail that basically said “fuck you”. No, fuck YOU, Judy! I’m Asian too and even that’s not going to make me vote for you. Was this petty of me? Possibly. Was I her constituent? Absolutely.