Sunday, January 18, 2015

Well, I took the TOPIK...

Waaaaaah I worked really hard this week on my Korean, which means I didn't really do much else Wamp.

Seriously, I slept in every day, woke up, bummed around, studied and intermixed some Korean TV for "listening practice" and then went to my Korean classes. What can I say? I'm dedicated.

Only cause I had to take the TOPIK this morning, but I'll get to that later.

TOPIK, if I haven't said somewhere else already, means Test of Proficiency in Korean, and is used to gauge your Korean level by testing your reading, listening and writing (level 3 and over), and it's essentially the Korean TOEIC exam (Test of English for International Communication) slash the harder TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

I've never taken either of those tests, so I don't know which one it is more similar to, but I've heard TOEFL is harder. I think TOEFL is more for academics and TOEIC is more for general workforce stuff? Maybe? I don't know. Anyway. More on tests later.

By Thursday I was going a little stir crazy, having only been out of my apartment to grocery shop on Monday and to go straight to and from Korean class. Wamp. So on Thursday, when Lauren asked if anyone wanted to meet for dinner, I gladly obliged.

It was happy hour, so we got margaritas.
My Korean obviously gets better when
controlled amounts of tequila are involved

Mom, don't read that last caption.

I met up again with my friends on Friday night, but I felt justified in doing this because I aced a practice test (actually it was the previous TOPIK exam), so I thought I could treat myself. 

And on Saturday, while Cesca was hanging in my apartment reading my books and enjoying my electric blanket, I studied some more and did another previous TOPIK exam. I would have easily passed that one too, so I felt pretty decent.

In the midst of studying, I got
a really encouraging text message
from my awesome and supportive

She learned how to use stickers and it's adorable

I usually have pre test nerves, so I couldn't sleep well despite feeling relatively prepared for the test. Thankfully, I wasn't so nervous that I couldn't eat (unlike my pre departure to Korea, where I was so nervous I was throwing up for 2 or 3 days before left and a few days into my arrival... wamp), so I stopped for breakfast on the way, because nothing says test day like McDonald's. Man, I'd kill for a McGriddle though... they haven't brought that one over here yet...

I thought this turn was funny, because actually at dinner on Friday, my friends and I had discussed our arrivals. I barely remember my departure from the airport. I was shaking from nerves, lack of sleep and probably hunger, given that I barely ate before I left. I'm sure we all cried. 

Lauren had happened to be my roommate at orientation by reasoning of we kind of just ended up near each other while avoiding other people on the bus, and I think I was also feeling quite sick by the end of the bus ride, and needed some air, so I was late getting into the building. Anyway, we ended up as roommates and decided at around 7:30 that it was time for bed. We have had a comfortable relationship since haha. 

Lauren, during our discussion, remembered that I was barely eating for the first few days of orientation, to which Sarah interjected that, since it was known we knew each other before, people kept asking her if I was alright because I pretty much ate rice and an egg for the first 3 days of orientation. Sarah has known me since college, and knew it was a phase I generally go through, especially when jetlag is involved. 

I remember in London, about 4 years ago (yikes), that I had felt terrible and had called my mom the first night and asked her why I had done this to myself... Welp, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I guess?

I digress. These were the thoughts I had walking to the bus stop in the cold, dark morning. Good news is that, despite this test being a big deal, I was able to eat breakfast no problem.

Early bus rides mean NO PEOPLE YAY

Room assignments. I only took TOPIK I, which
covers levels 1 and 2. TOPIK II, which covers
3-6, is clearly more popular. I'll be venturing
to take that probably in fall or winter of this year

I'd liiiiiike to achieve TOPIK 4 before I leave Korea, but we will see. The TOPIK II is a notoriously difficult test now, because the test includes questions from all levels. Which means that even though I'm only trying to pass intermediate level, the advanced level questions are on the test, too. Talk about making me nervous!! The questions start out at the lowest level and then get progressively harder, but what if I'm taking the test and the first question feels too advanced?!? AAaaah I'm definitely going to have to work harder to prep for TOPIK II...

TOPIK II also has a writing section, which TOPIK I didn't have The only thing I'm happy about is that TOPIK II doesn't start early in the morning, so I won't have to get up at 7 AM during my vacation to go take the test across town... because no universities on this side of the city seem to offer the damn test. Whyyy??

Thankfully, the directions to the university were FINALLY decent (Korean directions usually SUCK. Go out exit 5 and walk. You'll see it. OKKKKK), and with a few decently placed signs and a few wandering waygookin to follow, I easily found the test building.

Look at me being all official

The test is serious business They give you a specific TOPIK marker pen thing to use, and they take your cell phone away during the test. If you have it on you or think you can leave it in your purse and they catch you, you are immediately ejected from the test. If you have to use the bathroom, you must be escorted. Only white out tape is allowed. No white out pens or anything else pen like.

The test setup is a little dumb. They gave us information and collected phones starting at around 9:20, we filled out our important info starting at 9:30, and entry was forbidden after 9:40. But the test didn't start until 10... So after we did all the legal mumbo jumbo, we had to just. sit. 

So, despite my weeks of preparation and practice, I'm still, of course, nervous about the result, which I won't know until February 13th. I most certainly passed TOPIK level 1, because out of the 200 points on the test, you can get the 70 needed to pass level 1 on just the listening portion of the test, if you're good enough. Which I think I was, because I felt like the listening went well. If I didn't manage to score 70 points on the listening, I certainly gained enough with the first few reading questions.

The reading section, when practicing, wasn't that bad, but I don't know if I psyched myself out or what, but it was a lot harder on the actual exam day. That, or they decided the previous 2 TOPIKs that I practiced with were too easy, and they upped the difficulty. Eh. I dunno. Just cross your fingers and hope that I scrounged up the 140 needed to pass TOPIK level 2!

I'm glad I took the test, just to see where my level is (I could probably attempt and fail 3, as I'm not quite there yet, given my lack of confidence about TOPIK I). But now I know the format of the test (at least, 2/3 sections of the next level...), and I know how hard I needed to prepare for this test, and how much harder TOPIK II will be.

Like I said, my plan is to be more serious and consistent about studying in my downtime, so that if I can renew my contract and stay for another year, I can attempt to take the test again in the October, November or January of next year. 

I also know that this test is also not a good representation of my spoken Korean, but oh well. It's nice to have something to work towards, and I certainly pushed myself to learn more than I would have just studying with no goal. 

After being bummed about my less than confident answers to the end of the reading section, I decided that being alone was silly and that I should accept Cesca's invitation to come spend the day with her.

These are packs of  김 (Kim), which is
just seaweed they use to make kimbap
This lady obviously needed A LOT

We spent the day watching I Hear Your Voice, and relaxing and eating good food. It was nice to spend the day with Cesca, since I have no more responsibilities until Friday, when I have to return to school. Waaaaaah, vacation is too short. 

Don't worry, it's only for 3 weeks, then it's vacation time again!!! I only have 1 week off in February, and I'll be spending it in Japan. Wooooohoooo!!!!

After lounging around all day, it was a bit of a surprise to walk outside to see this:


Lots of snow

Some of it was pretty, but it was mostly
the big, wet, slushie snow that I really hate

This is seriously like the most snow we've had all winter and the least snow I've ever seen in my life for an ENTIRE winter, probably because I come from the land of the lake effect...

The power went out here. Just this signal light.

Keep your fingers crossed that I passed TOPIK level 2 and can continue with my studies!!! I hope I can keep up with my studies and continue to improve!!!

Also keep your fingers crossed that I can get my phone fixed for not too much money this week...

Because I was busy studying/being cooped up in my apartment this week, I didn't listen to a lot, but a new song from SHINee's Jonghyun caught my attention.  When I first saw the title, I was afraid it was another catastrophic English mistake by SM, since Korean doesn't have a 'V' so it's often romanized as B, but it turns out, if you listen to the song, they did it on purpose. Supposedly. Phew.

He says something about it feeling like deja vu and then calling the girl "My Deja Boo" Parents, young people nowadays often call their significant other 'boo' as a term of endearment, just FYI. 

I like it. It's a chill song. I haven't checked out the rest of the album, but now that I can relax a little, I may look into it. I'll try not to relax too much, but I'm at least giving myself tomorrow off from the intensive studying. 

Enjoy the week everyone! Hope it gets warmer and the snow either stays away or doesn't turn gross and slushie! Stay safe and warm!!!

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