Going to Taiwan

I didn’t go anywhere during winter vacation, so now I’m going on two vacations! My Malaysia trip has come and gone, and tomorrow morning I’m headed off to Taiwan.

My Mandarin is really bad, but I’m going to try really hard!

KIIP Level 3

Registration opened at midnight on the 16th, and the KIIP website immediately slowed to a crawl. I saw that people were registering slightly before midnight, but I thought I’d wait until after, just to be sure. Occasionally, you see notes on classroom listings that threaten to kick out people who register too early. You’d think they’d build it into the system.

But anyway. I’ve registered! I’m going once a week for 8 hours, every Sunday, from September 04 to December 04. Three months! But it’s only once a week, which should be a cakewalk compared to last semester’s Sat/Sun, 8 hours a day classes.

Incheon Airport observations

Some funny things I’ve noticed at immigration clearance:

  1. Two screens playing only SM Entertainment music videos, one after the other.
  2. Another screen on the wall next to the immigration counters, mostly advertising … LG plasma screens.

Window mesh replacement


Thanks for nothing, Whiskey. Whiskey has a habit of scratching at the window screen, and I had patched those up with 500 won premade patches, but this was going beyond the beyonds. Off I went to Gmarket to buy replacement parts. Not bad, it only cost me around 15,000 won for the screen and various other tools for the job.

I ordered on Friday morning, and a long thin box, similar to a poster box, arrived on Saturday morning. I love Korea’s delivery speed.

To prepare, I skimmed through an instructional YouTube video.



Pushing the new gasket in, with the special tool. I had waffled about buying a special tool just for this, but I’m glad I did. It was only 1,400 won, anyway. I swear, sometimes I’m stingy about the silliest things.



All done, kind of. It took me another hour or so to cut off the extra screen with a stationery knife.

Leftover meat

Way too much 삼겹살 left over from the work barbecue. 60근 had been ordered, and 60근 x 0.6 kg = 36 kg! I was sent home with a 2.5 kg pack. I asked how I was supposed to eat it, and was told: slowly. So I oven-baked all of it yesterday, a hot summer day. It’s in the freezer now.

KIIP Level 2 pass


Look at that! I passed Level 2.

The exam was out of 100 points, with 70 points for the written test (20 questions x 3.5 points), and 30 for the speaking test. The entire class was a bit stunned after the written test, because it was much, much harder than any of the practice tests we had taken. I came out of the test worried that it could easily go either way by a margin of a few points. I had even gotten to the point of randomly choosing between two possible answers on several questions. I remember one of them: I knew options 3 and 4 were wrong, but I didn’t even know the meaning of options 1 and 2.

I bombed my initial question on the speaking test – I was asked to provide instructions on how to make 떡볶이. Wut? We had totally studied it but my brain completely short-circuited. I muddled my way through it, horribly.

One of the two speaking test examiners was my course instructor, and they looped back to me after the others in the test, and asked a different question: what’s your hobby? Maybe because my course instructor knew I could do better? I don’t know. Anyway, it all worked out and I now have a very satisfying 94/100 points.


The entire course was 100 hours, with 8 or so hours of class per day, from 9 am to 5 pm. It was 5 Saturdays and 8 Sundays over the span of 7 weeks. After a while, I got really annoyed at never having a single day off, and less than my usual amount of sleep. It wasn’t that bad, it’s just 7 days a week of sitting at desks … it’s not like it’s manual labor. Regardless. I’ll have to think long and hard before I ever sign up for 9-5 job and classes, every day of the week.

Was it worth it? Yes, completely. Will I do the fast-track course again? Probably not.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.

KIIP Level 2 reflections

This class has further enforced foreigners-in-Korea stereotypes in my mind. Suffice to say that I wish they weren’t real.

That said, I am aware that I might be reinforcing the American stereotype for the others. I don’t think I am. But when you don’t think you are, that’s when you do.


KIIP 2단계, Day 5

Here’s the thing. I cannot believe how immature some of my fellow classmates are. One of the girls is constantly hissing under her breath (but loud enough for everyone), “Break. Break. Break.” As in, 10-minute study break. This, to me, is rude as fuck and I am certain that she thinks the teacher doesn’t understand her. I don’t even know why some of the people in class even bother coming, if they don’t want to learn. It’s a different story if they were placed in the wrong level and are madly distracted, but I know they’re not scoring as high on dictation and are constantly making mistakes in reading, making sentences, etc. I don’t “need” this class unlike most of my classmates (I’m not married to a Korean, no concrete ties to the country), and yes the class is free, but I am making all this effort to wake up early and spend all this time in class, so you better believe I’m going to fucking ace this class.

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.