After my first week in Busan and getting used to the life, the people and everything else in the city — I was extremely reluctant to pack up and head to another city. But I had already decided to experience both Lexis Korea campuses during my time in South Korea learning the language, and I couldn’t exactly back out (plus I really love Seoul)! So on Sunday morning (a day before first day of classes were to begin), I made my way to the Busan Train Station. I boarded the new SRT (Super Rapid Train) and was whisked from Busan to Seoul in less than 3 hours; arriving at the Suseo Station in Gangnam.
I was finally in Seoul and ready to begin my second week of Korean language classes!
Lexis Korea – Korean Language Centre
I’ve written about Lexis Korea in my previous post, but here’s a quick recap on the language school. It was the proud winner of the prestigious STM World School Award, an award voted on by industry professionals world-wide. Lexis Korea has campuses in two of South Korea’s biggest cities — Seoul and Busan; and it offers students not only the chance to learn the Korean language, but also be a part of everyday life in one of the world’s top countries to visit.
The language school offers courses for all levels — from Intensive 15 and 25 hours a week courses to one-on-one and weekend courses. The courses are great for travelers who want to learn a little of the language while touring the country; as the school allows students to enroll for a minimum of just 1 week (until of course, for as many weeks as you need to master the language). I was in school for 2 weeks!
Seoul, the Capital City
It is hard not to fall in love with Seoul. There are just so many things to do and see in South Korea‘s capital city. From the hustle and bustle of the markets and shopping streets, to the peace and serenity of the ancient palaces and temples. From the sky-scraping N Seoul Tower, to the historical houses of the Bukchon Hanok Village. There are spas to pamper, theme parks to be a kid again, vibrant nightlife to entertain, street food to savor — and if you are a fan of the K-hype, there are streets, museums, and a whole legion of fans to accompany you in your frenzy.
For me, it was wonderful to finally be able to live (albeit for just a little while) in a city that I have identified with over the years, being a fan of K-dramas and variety shows. While in Seoul, I half wished I could catch a glimpse of just one of my favorite stars — but alas, that rarely ever happens, does it?
Lexis Seoul – Gangnam
Lexis Korea’s Seoul campus is located in the city’s fashion and entertainment hub of Gangnam. Yeap, it’s the Gangnam of “Gangnam Style”, it’s the Gangnam that has its very own dance. And yes, it is an actual place — a district in Seoul, on the South side of the Han River (which is what its name literally means).
Lexis Seoul occupies 3-floors of the ANY Tower Building, which is right smack in the middle of all the Gangnam action. It is just a few steps away from the Gangnam Station (and all the underground shops), and is surrounded by office buildings, cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and noraebangs (karaoke centres). The district is bustling and lively — and I could always find something to do just around the area (dance classes, spas, parks, malls) to fill my time after classes.
Just like Busan, the accommodations in Seoul can be arranged by Lexis Korea — homestays where you get to live with a local family, serviced apartments for a more comfortable and higher standard (and more costly) room choice, and the more budget-friendly mini studios (or goshiwon in Korean). During my week in Seoul, I stayed in a mini studio in the Gangnam area called Simple House, which was just a 10-minute walk to the Lexis Seoul building.
Simple House occupies the top two floors of a 5-storey commercial building (thankfully, with an elevator). Like most mini studios, my room was super small and narrow — but with the basic furnishings like a single bed, a small wardrobe and drawers, desk, chair, small fridge and television, as well as a tiny private bathroom. The air-con is a central system; and I have to say that on some extremely hot summer days, the heat in the room can get pretty unbearable. Shared facilities are provided — washing machines and cooking equipment with free rice, ramen and kimchi (which I happily had for late night suppers).
My Second Week – Beginner Level in Lexis Seoul
I have to admit I was really nervous the first time I walked into ‘Beginner’ class on the first day. I was on the Intensive 25 hours a week course — so I had morning classes (core text – grammar and vocabulary) from 9am-12.15pm, and then afternoon classes (more practical and conversational) from 1.15pm-3.30pm. Both my classes in Seoul had about 10-15 people, and it was taught by two different teachers. Lexis Korea’s Beginner Level takes about 4 weeks (considering you pass all the tests) — with the syllabus taught only in the morning sessions. So I was nervous because I was a new girl in an existing class!
My morning class teacher was Ms. Ho Jin, and she really was the sweetest teacher ever! I really enjoyed her classes (it was a little too tough for me, though) and in my first (and only) week, I learned how to construct sentences in past, present and future tense, as well as combining sentences. My afternoon class teacher was Ms. Na Yeon — and her classes took a more engaging and interactive approach. Afternoon sessions are made up of students from different levels, and we spent most of our time conversing, playing Korean language games, and doing fun activities. She even taught us a Korean children’s song!
Tests and exams at Lexis Seoul are usually done on the next Monday after the week’s lessons are over. It was my last week in language school, so I didn’t have to take one!
Lexis Korea organises a schedule of fun after-class activities. During my week in Seoul, I joined a couple of the activities — a short tour of Gangnam on my first day, as well as a meet-up session with the school’s Korean and English language students. This bi-weekly activity sees students hanging out in a cafe and just chatting — it is a chance to practice the language, and learn about different cultures. I really enjoyed the meet-up — we had so much laughs and giggles while exchanging stories, telling jokes, sharing about our countries, and talking about almost everything under the sun.
There were other activities held during the week that I skipped — the K-pop evening (where they learned how to sing a K-pop song), and the school outing. For the outing that week, students were brought to a traditional street food market. I really wished I had more time at Lexis Korea, because it really would have been so much fun joining in all the activities they organise week after week (and of course, learning more Korean too)!
I made many new friends during my week in Seoul, and we ended spending lots of time together after classes. We even had our own chat group on KakaoTalk (Korea’s most popular messaging platform) so that we could plan meet-ups and activities to do together. I have to say it really felt like I was back in high school — and it brought back many memories. The students in Lexis Korea come from all backgrounds and all ages; some as young as 17, and some as old as… me. I noticed that the younger ones were usually living in homestays — so they had their local ‘mums’, and curfew times!
It was great fun experiencing Seoul in a group — finding bargains on the streets of Myeongdong, getting in on the K-pop craze at SM Town, searching for Noraebangs (Korean karaokes) in the streets of Gangnam, and enjoying big meals of Korean cuisine. I guess there are some things you just can’t do alone. Other times though, I preferred my own company. I liked the quiet evenings I spent walking along the Han River, writing in a pretty cafe, watching the sunset, and even letting it all go as an ahjumma (older lady) scrubbed my body down at a jjimjilbang (Korean spa).
My Experience with Lexis Seoul
I loved my time in Seoul. I loved studying in Lexis Seoul. I loved walking to classes. I loved hanging out with all the new friends I made. I loved exploring the beautiful city on my own. I loved trying to speak Korean to a random stranger and succeeding. I loved feeling more connected to the city while living in it. Just being in Seoul and being surrounded by everything Korean helped me grasp the language so much faster than I thought I would.
It was a little hard settling down in Seoul initially — the pace in the capital city is so fast, people just seemed like they never slow down. But I eventually got into the momentum, found my own stride, and fell in love with the flitter flutter of Seoul. Studying in Lexis Seoul not only gave me the chance to discover the city while learning the language, it also gave me the opportunity to meet many different people and experience life living in the bustling metropolis. I really appreciate this new perspective of travel. Oh Seoul, I’ll definitely be back again.
*She Walks the World went to learn the Korean language in Seoul, South Korea, thanks to Lexis Korea. However, as always, all opinions and suggestions stated here are my own.