BestFriend trouble!

EDIT: Please mind that this post dates back to November 2012. The school has changed in a good way. They still have a few points to work on, but nobody’s perfect. They invited me in order to change this post, so I went to this school once more in January 2014. Please read on to see the changes. Thank you.

Hmm I’m sorry for not posting the previous posts in English, I hope some translating tool can help to read them! It’s a bit too much text to translate so I’m kinda lazy to do so…

But now I wanted to write a bit in English. First I must say that for most of the time I’m having a good time in Korea and in 6 days I will move from Anyang to Seoul (somewhere in the Sinchon area I guess). But I’m having many problems with the school and I’m changing the plans once again! I won’t tell you everything yet, because I’ll first tell my family about the plans.

But there are a few things I can say. All problems are caused by my school, called BestFriend Korean Language and Culture Center. I want to mention the name of the school because there isn’t much information to be found about the school except for their website (which is of course written to be very appealing and it will obviously not mention any problems or negative things about the school). I’m writing this to warn people who will go or are thinking of going to this school.

1. The contact person changed without any notice

This change of contact might sound not so terrible, but in fact it is. The two people (so the previous and the present English coordinator) don’t seem to have notify or inform each other about the ongoing processes of entering students. This caused the new coordinator to not notify the wrong bookings on my account. Which caused me to be in the wrong homestay, to not have a cellphone here (not that I really miss this but still). So in short to me this has been a problem, but for others now entering this will not be a problem anymore. I must also say that this person’s English abilities aren’t what you would expect from someone who is responsible for all English communication done in this school. He studied in the USA for 6 years and his English really isn’t that good. This has cause some miscommunications too.

EDIT: The person in charge at the time I went last time was very kind and his English was a lot better. There weren’t really any miscommunications except for the fact that they started arranging my Japanese classes quite late. I was offered a certain hours of Japanese class, but by the time they were arranged, we kind of had to put as many hours as possible in one day.

2. The terrible homestay

So I booked a ‘special homestay’ which would immerse me in the Korean culture, which would give me many chances to use the language, which would teach me Korean manners and culture, which would give me a cultural excursion once a week, … with a Korean family with children but instead I ended up with a ‘general homestay’ -this due to the things I mentioned in point 1- which means nothing more than staying with a Korean person (she’s alone and her son comes home once in 14 days for less than 12 hours) that doens’t speak English (which definitely causes communication problems) and that you don’t have to make your own food. I don’t know about other homestays but this is one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I sleep and eat here -I even have to eat alone…- and I feel terribly lonely. Who likes to eat alone? Who likes to not speak to anyone for days sometimes? I know, once you go to school you’ll have friends to meet with but if you’re more than an hour away from where your friends live, I don’t think many people would like to go that distance every day to meet up with their friends… It is a rather big distance and, although I like travelling and public transport, it is tiring and sometimes stressing too. I try to be absent at the homestay as much as possible because I really don’t like it. A week after I arrived at the homestay I asked the school if I could possible leave here and move to my studio apartment (which I booked for November and December) earlier than planned, but he replied beside the point. Talking about culture shock and being homesick, which is absolutely not the case, and that the apartment was occupied by other students. Which turns out to be not true!

I can’t say much about homestays, but in the future I might post other people’s experiences on my blog.

3. Cancelling issue

After 3 weeks of classes I decided not to continue my studies at the institute and cancel part of my accommodation. I thought about this for a week, so make sure I wouldn’t regret this decision and I talked about it with my parents to make sure they agreed with my decision. They agreed and so I made the final decision of cancelling and sent an email to the school. I will first try to explain in short why I want to cancel and then I will show you the exact communication between myself and the school. So, you might have read on this blog that I first planned to go to Japan and that I was really excited about going. But then I started thinking about going to Korea, most of all because it’s cheaper. And so I went on with this and here I am… still thinking about Japan every day. Still watching Japanese drama and anime. Still listening to Japanese music. Still trying to learn kanji. Still exercising my kana writing. Still looking up words that I want to know when watching anime/drama. It’s clear that I love Japan more than anything (and I clearly said ‘thing’, so I’m not talking about people ;)). So after realizing this, it was clear that I better quit here and save my money for going to Japan. Also, I wanted to learn a new language out of my own interest and since it turns out I’m not that eager to learn Korean, it is better to quit. So, this is my reasoning in short.

EDIT: The whole email communication between the English coordinator and myself used to be in this space, but I think it’s useless now. That person was fired and the person in charge now didn’t cause any problems.

But I have to say: the lessons are great. I don’t have any problems with the lessons. Maybe we’re not learning what we really want to learn, but you don’t learn the cool things when you’re learning basics, right? So if you only go to the school for classes and arrange all other things yourself, I bet you’ll be fine! I haven’t heard of any problems from other people, so maybe I have really tough luck here…

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13 thoughts on “BestFriend trouble!

  1. I am just finishing a month with a homestay through Best Friend. My host mom does not speak English that well, but she tries very hard to communicate with me. I try with my broken Korean and her with her broken English and we make it work. I can tell that her heart is very good. The only draw back is that I am a 30-45 minute bus ride from the school, so I am a little isolated from the others, but I make that work. I would probably consider staying in an apartment if I return, which I am strongly considering. 🙂

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    • Hi, thank you for you feedback!
      I think the school is improving fast, but they should find better host families. It’s really difficult to stay with people with whom you can’t communicate, especially for absolute beginners of Korean.
      I lived 1,5 hours from the school, so 30-45 minutes isn’t that bad I think 😉 I guess families in the centre of Seoul don’t have any spare rooms to host students, that’s why most host families are located so far from the school.
      An apartment gives you a lot more freedom and it’s a lot closer to school as well 🙂

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  2. hello yoooya! i just found this post after booking a 2 month course with the school. they also said i will be staying with that lady you talked about. do you have any news about students that went there later? I’m actually a bit freak out about what you wrote so I’m thinking to change to a studio… but it should be less comfortable since you have to cook for yourself and rent all the stuff you need. Any advices please??

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    • Hi Mari,
      I must say the school had improved a lot the second time I went there (last January).
      Are you sure it’s the same lady? I don’t even know her name or anything, so it might as well be someone else. 🙂
      I know people who went there for nearly a year, and they didn’t seem to have many complaints, so I think you can rest assured that most issues in my post have been resolved by now. The (English) communication is a lot better too.
      Well, a studio is nice too. We went out for lunch and dinner most of the time, since you can buy really cheap food (compared to Europe). There’s HongIk university at the end of the street, where you can eat for around 1-2 euro for a whole meal! The things you need to rent are indeed a bit more expensive, but it’s probably about the same price as living with a host family.
      I hope I’ve helped you with this advice, if you have more questions don’t hesitate to ask more!

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  6. Yikes! Quite an ordeal, eh? Well I’m sure that that dude wasn’t trying to be an asshole or anything. Just to take his side for a moment, there probably aren’t that many people who come on exchange to Korea and then decide to quit halfway through because they think they want to be somewhere else instead. He’s probably trained to deal with people who are homesick and doesn’t understand that your issue is different. Also, he does work for the school… and the school wants your money! Lol. So of course he’s gonna try to convince you to stay. 🙂

    But yeah, stick to your guns! Do what you think is right for you~ I know a few people who tried Korea on first and then came over here to Japan. ^_^v

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  7. hey Laura! it’s me Jubi! 🙂 i felt really saddened hearing about your situation there. why don’t you just tell straight to his pancake face that you are not satisfied or should we say the management itself sucks. or maybe he’d still press you to stay for that. why not make up an excuse or just a little white lie would do, if that helps. 😉 lol jk eitherway, i hope the plans you’ve made would work out and i wish you to have a great time despite the trouble. keep calm and carry on! 🙂

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    • Oh thank you Jubi! ^^ Yeah well I think telling them that I’m not satisfied or something like that wouldn’t work. Whatever reason I gave him, he didn’t listen and tried to keep me there. Just so they wouldn’t lose a student…
      But I will work to get the money back! 😉
      I will keep calm and try to make the best of the coming 24 days left here! 😀

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  8. This all sounds like an complete nightmare, and disorganized. I have to admit apart from the classes I didn’t do much else with the school.
    I tried the language exchange but as you might expect it was badly organized.
    I will also say that level 1-2 & 2-1 are pretty grammar focused so if you’re not really into Korean then its not worth taking those classes.
    Hope everything works out ^-^ Tim

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    • Thank you for your reply!
      It indeed is all terribly organized… 😦
      And indeed, I think if I’m not really into learning the language, I should quit. But the English coordinator keeps trying to change my mind! I think he isn’t really concerned about me but only about not losing a student. My parents now sent an email, hopefully this will help to put pressure on him/the school.
      Thank you, I hope so too 😉

      Like

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