New-ish computer

I’m not sure, but I think this is my fourth custom build. In the background, you can see a bit of my old, massive ATX case, and big Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU cooler. I’m working on my ridiculously overpriced (because it was new and out of production) mini-ITX LGA 1150 Z board. My i5-4670K does everything I want at the moment, so no point in paying $$$ for even more overpriced (because of cryptomining) parts.

But now my computer is in the much smaller Silverstone SG13 case! The idea is that I’ll only need to bubble-wrap this and take it with me in a suitcase. In contrast, I had to disassemble my entire ATX in order to bring it from California to South Korea, and then I also had to buy a new case in South Korea.

Cat teeth scaling

Captain – my second cat – has been having awfully smelly breath for a while now. When I first adopted him from the shelter, he was already full-grown, had lived in several places, and already had a teeth plaque problem. The vet said a scaling wasn’t necessary just yet. Anyway, this week I decided that alright, let’s get this stinky breath FIXED. A different vet at the same clinic agreed that yes, it was time for a scaling, and also some periodontal disease meds.

I showed up at my reservation time of 11:30 am, and Captain went off for his blood draw. I stayed at the clinic for about 15 minutes, waiting for the bloodwork to be done. Everything was a go, except for the creatinine levels, which was at 1.9, when the recommended range was 0.8-1.8. Not too high, so it’s fine. But I’m going to have to figure out how to get him to drink more water. I’ve already been mixing in lots of water in his wet food? Ugh, I don’t know. So I signed the authorization papers for anesthesia and scaling (this was surprisingly in English, perfect English!), and was told to come pick him up anytime after 5 pm.

The process is much cheaper than in the US. It cost me 77,000 won for the actual scaling. And 55,000 won for the bloodwork.

Earlier that day, I had just gotten a vaccination for myself. 170,000 won! A bit of a pricey day for both the human and one of her animals.

Done with KIIP

1.5 years later, I’ve completed the program! For some reason, I kept thinking that I had started the program in 2015, but I actually started in April 2016, and have now completed it in December 2017. I guess it just felt so long; I was convinced that surely it must have been over 2 years now. It really is quite the ordeal, spending 8 hours in class on a Sunday or Saturday … and back in Level 2, on some weekends, I did 8 hours each on Saturday AND Sunday! I’m so happy to have my 2-day weekends back.

I have two certificates: KIIP (Korea Immigration and Integration Program), and KIPRAT (Korea Immigration Permanent Residency Ability??Acceptance??Aptitude??idk Test). They were both issued automatically through the website, after I passed my Level 5 (50 hours) exam. The dates on the certificates are different, because the dates will be whatever date I clicked on it print from the Socinet website.

Feels great!

It is a massive time commitment, but it is worth it. I did it because it was the only language class I could take in my area. Almost everything I know in Korean, is from being taught it directly in KIIP classes, or from picking it up through casual conversations with the teachers or classmates. I’m far from fluent, and I make plenty of mistakes … but I get by just fine.

Here’s how my schedule was, from Level 2 to Level 5:


Placement test: 2016.04.30

Level 2


Level 3


Level 4


Intermediate exam:  2017.08.19


Level 5


Final exam: 2017.12.16


Again: massive time commitment. Not everyone is up to it. But worth it.

KIIP Level 5 exam

I had to take the Level 5 exam twice, unfortunately. The first time, I received 59 points, which was just short of the 60 point passing score. Fuck, right? I was only slightly upset because it was kind of hilarious.

The writing questions on both tries of Level 5 were very similar. The first time I tried, I had to write a 200-character length or so essay, introducing a hometown food item to Koreans, and explain how it’s made, how it tastes, etc. The second was similar: introduce a well-known hometown location to Koreans and explain why you’re fond of that location. Easy. I couldn’t think of locations in my podunk hometown that would interest the examiner. Gotta milk those points, you know? So, I pretended to be more exciting than I actually was. I pretended I was a New Yorker introducing thin crust pizza (sorry), and for the second exam, I wrote about Hollywood and all the MOVIES! STARS! RANDOM SIGHTINGS OF CELEBRITIES!! (insert jaded eyeroll here)

The speaking test was hard, in my opinion. There was a piece of paper taped to the desk that I sat at, and it was a couple of paragraphs about job interview etiquette. I was asked to explain the passage, then give my opinion on what kind of person should be hired by the company, and what other additions I had to the suggestions of appropriate job interview etiquette. Second round was about Korean family units – compare and contrast, then and now. The answer is extended families vs nuclear families, single households, etc etc. The last round of questions was a bit wild: give a brief breakdown of the Korean War, and explain what problems might occur after reunification. What the hell, I didn’t even know how to explain that in English. Anyway, 59/60 it was. My Korean co-workers were shocked when they found out about the third set of questions, saying that surely immigration shouldn’t expect foreigners to answer that sort of thing? But then again, I think if they’re applying for permanent residency, maybe they should? I don’t know. It’s a sensitive issue and I had actively avoided forming any sort of opinion on it AT ALL … and then there it was.

At my second try at the Level 5 exam the following month, it was much easier. The questions were about the Korean education system – give a quick summary of it, contrast it to your home country’s education system, and explain the problems that occur from the high level of Korean enthusiasm for education. The second round of questions was about the internet. I had to explain what it’s useful for, what Korean websites I usually visit and why, and also explain the problems that arise from internet usage. I was surprised that there wasn’t a third round of questions, because there has always been three rounds of questions for my placement exam, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, and the previous Level 5 … I suspect it was because my testing partner and I had taken up too much time talking during the first two rounds. I later found out from another tester that the third round of questions was about urbanization.

My complaint about KIIP exams is that cheating is rampant. There’s zero cheating during the objective and written portions, because it’s really strict. But, it’s a free-for-all during the speaking test. During my first go at the speaking test, after the first round of people got out, they were mobbed by other test takers, asking about the questions. While I was in the waiting room, people were openly on their phones and textbooks, even though the rules said we couldn’t have our phones or textbooks. Our invigilator would occasionally scold them but never really did anything about it. During the second speaking test, the phone rules were stricter … but! While the invigilator was out, walking the current round of test takers to their test rooms, someone came in to pick up his bag after his test … and whispered the questions to his friends, who then told everyone else. And when the waiting room had dwindled to the last 25% or so, the invigilator straight up told us all the questions on the speaking test, and held an open discussion of possible answers.

Thanksgiving dinner, I guess

I feel like autumn hasn’t really ended just yet, because the leaves are still turning, and haven’t even fully dropped off yet. First snow has come and gone. It’s cold at night, so I guess it’s time to bring out the bak kut teh mix and chicken. And of course, I’m currently nursing a cold, even though I was a responsible little adult and got my flu shot!

Delivery sushi and other midweek adventures

It’s been a sushi week for me. Why? I don’t know. I just wanted to. Delivery sushi seems like an iffy idea, but it’s really not. I had kaiten sushi on Monday, and was still dreaming about it on Wednesday, so I ordered delivery sushi! It was cheaper to have it delivered, and a lot more variety and side dishes. In the picture, you can see some miso soup, some corn or cream of chicken soup (I don’t know?), a salad, and some assorted fried food … I split this up between dinner and breakfast, and it was amazing.

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