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Sunday, 13 November 2011

The University Exam

Last week, on Thursday,  South Korea held its annual university entrance exam, taken by all 3rd year high schoolers.

Big deal, right?


Approximately 690,000 3rd year (there is no 4th year) high school students sat for the exam,the su-neung (수넝), the pinnacle of their testing existence.

It is a moment all have been waiting for, dreading, preparing for . . . after all, getting into a good university is crucial (or is seen as being so) for future professional employmnet.

I hate to say it, but I am part of the process, because one of the six or so subject tests on the 9-hour exam is English.

It's an exam that is so important in this test-based society that Korea changes bus and flight schedules, delays the stock market opening, curtails traffic around test centers, etc . . . all in hopes of limiting noise and confusion and thus contributing to a better test-taking atmosphere.

Some second year high school students go and cheer for their seniors before the exam starts, and some mothers are pictured in the news praying for their children's testing fortunes.

There have been reports of attempted cheating and suicides, all due to the massive pressure that the Korean educational system places on the exam.

Thankfully, it's over.

Until next year.

Taking Attendance

I have to take attendance every day in my classes--fair enough, as I am part of the record-keeping system.

I prefer that students answer "Yes, I'm here" and be done with it.  However, since students know I like to joke around, they sometimes answer differently.  I usually frown upon such answers, since that part of class involves a bureaucratic process that I simply want to move past.

The other day, though, when I called out "Haley" and she said , "I'm not here", it didn't sound like the usual clowning around.

"What?", I queried.

"I'm not her," she replied.  "Haley's not here . . . mmm, the good Haley's not here.  She went home.  I'm the bad Haley."

Since I have never, ever gotten that answer before, I was mystified.

"You are the bad Haley?"

The girl replied, "Yes," giggling as she did so.

I tried to get more of a response during class, but failed to figure out where that atypical response came from. I'm curious as to whether or not she'll build on it next week.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fall Colors

Here are a couple of fall pics from my front door; not a great view overall (I live in a high-rise village), but it's convenient for walking to work (12 min.) and to go to the subway station (5 min.)

These pics are of the walk to work, including two shots taken a few days apart.  The leaves are really falling fast!