October 19th, 2016


종합시험들을 다 망했어ㅠㅠㅠ

I've been putting off posting for a while because I was pretty busy, then I was pretty depressed. But I'm over it now (uh, more or less?) so I'll give it a post.

To graduate you have to take a number of exams (comprehensive exams/graduation exams), as well as a language exam. I passed my language exam last year, but as I'm a third semester graduate student now I had to take my comprehensive exams this semester.

I had to take three: 국어문법론, 국문학사, 현대문학. Korean Grammar Theory, History of Korean Literature, and Modern Literature. The first two were required of all literature/linguistics majors, the final one was my choice (I could have chosen to take the exam for classical literature instead, which I didn't, for obvious reasons).

The thing is, this is Korea. Seniors (선배) give other students previous exams/materials to help them study, as well as "예상문제" (predicted questions). Usually, if you get a previous exam, you simply have to memorize the contents and spew it out on the test and you pass.

I have two seniors. One took the master's level exams two semesters ago, the other took them something like 2-3 years ago. I asked the one who took it two semesters for any materials or a previous test. At first she said yes. Then she didn't send it to me for a month. Then I politely asked again, and she told me that everything was on an "external hard drive." (So what?) When we had class in person again after that, she told me that I should just ask the professors for hints. So she gave me nothing. My other senior gave me the questions she remembered from her exam, as well as materials for the grammar exam.

So basically, I had materials for grammar, a few questions for history of literature, and nothing for modern literature. Okay.

I studied. Not well, but I did. On Friday the 14th I had two of the exams: history of lit and grammar. I go to history of lit. It was nothing like what I was expecting. There were six questions and I had to choose three to write about for an hour. I was able to answer one question confidently, one question semi-confidently, and one question I kind of... flubbed. I didn't know the exact person that was being discussed, but I knew about the literature of the time period, so I write about it. 50/50 percent I passed that exam.

Then I went home and memorized the questions for grammar. I go to take the grammar exam- and was immediately stumped. I was provided with 16 questions, of which I needed to choose five to write about. I was able to answer one with any sense of confident. ONE. The rest I had no clue about. I am no joking. Not only did I not study the right stuff, but my materials were flat out wrong as well. And the exam had been changed, to boot! I got the sense that it wasn't a particularly difficult exam, but I am a foreigner who is not fluent in Korean and doesn't know the first thing about grammar in his own language, let alone in Korean. So I left that exam very, very depressed.

I studied a bit- a very small bit- that night and the next morning for the modern lit exam, which was Saturday, the 15th. I go in. I turn the paper over. 6 questions provided, choose 3 to answer (do you sense a theme here?). Yet again there were 3 questions I simply could not answer. One question I answered very confidently. One I answered semi-confidently, bordering on unconfident. One I kind of scrambled to answer (it was about 친일시, or the "Japan-friendly" poetry group in the 1940s). I kind of roughly knew the basics about the group, but the test asked me to choose a poem and analyze it. I've never read a poem from that group before in my life. Actually, that was the main issue I had with this exam; I was kind of expecting it to be tailer-made for me. I've taken classes on literature in 60s and 70s, literature history from the 20s and 30s, semiotics and cognitive languages, and philosophy. The exam asked about a certain type of poetry from one poet from the 1930s. It asked about a specific story from an author from the 1940s. It asked about the trend of existentialism from the 1950s. The thing is, I kind of get the feeling that the test was not made for me. I think it was verbatim what my senior who took it two semester ago had done, based on the content of the test and what classes were offered in the semesters before I started at my uni. So if she had given me her materials- ANY of her materials- I think I would have done much better on that exam.

As it stands, I feel as if there's a 50/50 chance I passed the two literature exams, and absolutely no chance that I passed the grammar exam. Which makes me sad and frustrated and angry and depressed. I do get the chance to take the exams again next semester, but what happens if I don't pass them then? I won't be able to take the exams again until the fall semester next year...

Anyways. This week is midterms week, and I (fortunately!) don't have any midterms! All of my classes were canceled except my Tuesday class, so I've been simultaneously super lazy and super productive this week. I met up with Yongkuk on Monday at Garosugil, and we got delicious Mexican food and coffee after, and today I met Kiwoon for coffee and donkkas. I cleaned the bathroom, kitchen, swept and scrubbed the floors. I brought my winter coat to the dry cleaner. I read a couple books and did a few assignments for class. I started reading 두근두근 내 인생, which I need to finish up for class. I have a few more assignments to complete, and I intend on starting to get ahead on my work- but overall I'm pretty pleased with myself and the progress I've made thus far. I'm not just sitting around doing nothing! I'm sitting around doing nothing with brief flashes of productiveness!

And on that note, I'm going to go lay down in bed and read a romance novel or two.
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