Well, I’ve been in Seoul for about two months now and midterms just ended, so I figured it was time for an update.
All is well on the southern front, despite what the news was reporting back home a couple weeks ago. As always, the northern threat is there, but everyone here has grown so used to it that they couldn’t care less. I figure if the natives aren’t concerned, I shouldn’t be either. After all, this is their country and their way of life, and they have the most at stake.
Classes are tough — and it’s not the material that’s difficult, but the way it’s taught. There is heavy emphasis on testing over things like homework and participation, which alone isn’t a problem, but together with the rigid class structure has really been testing my learning ability and my patience. Granted, I’m not taking as many courses here as my peers because I knew the ones I decided to take would be challenging, but I’ve never considered myself very good at operating under time pressure, and there’s certainly been a lot of that as of late…but enough with the excuses.
Learning Korean has been compelling at times, but by and large, it has become a chore. Perhaps this is the culture shock talking, but it’s clear any foreign language skills I had in high school are gone, along with any real interest in pursuing Korean following my return to the states. I know plenty of people who seem to have a knack for it and are enjoying themselves though, and I don’t see fit to rain on their parade, so I’ve decided to carry on and see what happens.
On a more positive note, my research has been going very well. I’m not prepared to reveal the totality of what I”m doing for Professor Simha just yet, but I now have a system capable of randomly selecting a word from a dictionary and automatically generating a phonemic multiple choice question based on that word, complete with one correct answer and three incorrect ones. Thanks to some helpful libraries, this actually didn’t turn out to be too difficult, though there’s certainly some room for improvement, especially as far as the selection of plausible incorrect answers is concerned. In fact, it was far easier for me to develop procedures to generate correct answers to questions than incorrect ones, primarily because incorrect answers have to be, well, wrong, but also believable, which is pretty hard to explain to a human, let alone to a computer. It’s all coming together now though, and I’m excited to continue working on it into the summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to elaborate a bit more on what we’re looking to accomplish at that point too.
That’s about it from me for now. Not the lightest post ever, but rarely do I ever come out of a week of midterms feeling overly positive, so in the meantime I’ll take comfort in knowing these dark times will pass. Until next time, adios.