Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the educational aspect

A few of my textbooks, and a couple handy Korean language tools.

Korea is a lovely country, and cultural immersion is an invaluable experience. But first and foremost, I am a student, and I am here to study. Luckily, my experience with professors here is evidence of them being much more approachable and informal than professors in the United States, or at least at Georgia Tech. For instance, on one of the first days in the country, I was hanging out in a park near the international building with a few other students, and we were approached by two professors of Biotechnology, who proceeded to buy us coffee, and give us their contact information for future reference. As much as I love my professors from home, I have never experienced or heard of anything close to that amount of hospitality on behalf of a professor in the United States.

This semester, I'm registered for 18 hours, 15 of which count for credit at Georgia Tech. I don't think it will be too bad, though--the courses seem fun (at least for me, they do), I don't have a lab, and none of the courses as of yet seem to require anything near the time commitment that Georgia Tech's CS 1371 (an introduction to computer science for engineering majors that primarily taught MATLAB) required.

Without further ado, the courses I attended today:


In my first class at KAIST, it was simultaneously shocking and completely expected that I was not only the only foreigner, but also the only female in the class. Consequently, the professor felt the need to single me out and ask me details about America and challenge me to cite statistics about the average American vocabulary or GDP per capita. I mean, I like attention and getting to know my professors, but not when I feel like I'm annoying the rest of the class solely because of my nationality. On the plus side, there's a kid with blue and white hair in the class, so I don't feel nearly as outlandish.

The professor is pretty great--he studied, taught, and worked for awhile in the United States, so he's an affiliate of American Nuclear Society, and makes frequent trips to Atlanta, California, etc. His teaching style is exciting, and big on the conversation, which is definitely a positive thing, as far as staying awake is concerned. The actually class is an introduction to fluid mechanics and thermodynamics with nuclear applications. Because at Georgia Tech, thermodynamics is typically taken concurrently or prior to fluid mechanics, and at KAIST, only fluid dynamics is offered this semester, I thought it was in my interest to take this course, even though it technically does not transfer to Georgia Tech. Also, I'm pretty interested in researching with the professor of the course, so it would be awkward to try to weasel my way out of the class. And, he managed to incorporate full-slide picture of Harrison Ford into a presentation on nuclear energy, so the class promises to be exciting.


I'm definitely going to have to go out and buy something to keep myself awake for this class. The professor is understandable and considerate, but the class doesn't feel like it's tailored to the individual student. Of the classes I've been in thus far, it feels the most like a Physics or Calculus lecture at Georgia Tech--a big, impersonal class.


This course is equivalent to Mechanics of Deformable Bodies at Georgia Tech. At KAIST, they expect you to have a background in fluids (which I'm taking concurrently), and to have taken a prerequisite akin to Statics. Although, my Statics professor at Georgia Tech didn't do the greatest job of preparing me comprehensively, so I'll have to review a bit harder than the other students in my class in order to be completely secure in the material.


Based on the material, this was the next logical course after Georgia Tech's KOR 1001 and 1002. And, as with any language course I take right after a break, I understood about 70% of what the professor said. Interpret that as you may, good or bad. I definitely think I'll have to put quite a bit of effort into this, but it will be more than worth it, considering this class has the most immediate effect on my life, what with the living in South Korea and stuff.

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