I expected a very regimented society, highly influenced by a Confucian past, with a place for everything and everything in its place. I expected to eat delicious Korean BBQ everyday and have edible options that were similar to the Asian food I had in the States. I expected to walk in with a plan and implement it with no hang-ups. Boy, did my expectations miss the mark!
What I got:
None of the classes I wanted to take. Apparently, it is common for an instructor to advertise his/her class as being in English because it pays more. If you are the only foreigner in the class, they will not make an exception for you. My options were limited (being the only foreign engineering major), so one of my classes will be in Korean. Luckily, the book, the class notes, and the software will be in English. I'm actually looking forward to trying to follow along with the Korean lectures. Also, Professor Choo is extremely nice and is willing to work with me. In any event, my Korean is sure to improve.
The dorm is nice. I share a room with another ISA student from Ohio, Charles. He is very messy (physics majors!!!), but a nice guy. The dorm does not have a kitchen, however a meal plan is included in my program. The food served in the cafeteria has a bad reputation, even among the locals. They usually serve rice (mixed with greens or bean sprouts), soup (with seaweed or bean sprouts), and a variety of fermented sides (kimchi every day). There is no discernible difference (to me) between what they serve for dinner and what they serve for breakfast. However, they sometimes serve an approximation of typical Western food.
I'm sure the combination of the food, the change in environment, and jet lag has compromised my immune system. I have had fever, chills, and a sore throat for 5 days. The on-campus hospital is very nice and operates like a well-oiled machine (there are automated kiosks every step of the way). I spent $85 on the consultation and prescriptions without making an insurance claim. This is something I could have easily spent $200 to $300 on in the States.
Tomorrow we are going to Everland Amusement park to ride some rollercoasters (if my health does not deteriorate) and I hope to upload some pictures of the campus and surrounding neighborhoods.