What’s Up, Sophomore? Issue No.2

Has sophomore year turned into suffermore year as the students experience their first AP(s)? Find out only on ‘What’s Up, Sophomore? ‘

We have all heard of it from the upperclassmen: sophomore year is suffermore year. With the rise in the amount of homework and assessments, coupled with the numerous extracurriculars, sophomore students are in one of their busiest times so far in high school. One obvious factor that contributes to the franticness is the student’s first experiences with AP(s), whether that is AP Biology, AP World History, and/or AP Capstone Seminar. As the number of AP assessments pile up for the upcoming weeks, Blueprint has interviewed several sophomores who shared their opinions on how their first AP(s) are going. Read on to discover whether or not their AP courses have made their sophomore year, suffermore year!


Although each of the AP courses is distinct from one another, there are some common grounds as many students were surprised by the level of difficulty. One struggle that encompasses all three APs is the emphasis on independent learning. In freshmen year, most students were heavily reliant on the teacher to teach them every concept. However, in AP classes, self-studying is a much larger part of the course. JJ Kim (‘19), a student who takes AP Biology, claimed that unlike last year, you “can’t expect the teacher to lecture everything like a regular course.” The same goes with AP World History, as Neo Pak (‘19) mentioned that one of the hardest part of the course is to “learn the textbook mostly on your own.” Along with the stress on autonomy, interviewees reported that there is an obvious increase in the dedication one must put into the class. A unique comment brought by Jason was that he was astounded at how “laid-back” Mr. van Moppes was as Jason expected him to be a “strict, merciless” teacher.


However, many interviewees also highlighted the positive aspects of their respective AP courses. Overall, students agreed that AP courses were an enriching experience in that one is given the opportunity to delve into the depths of a subject, along with other passionate peers. JJ praised the mini-lectures of AP Biology for their succinct and logical style. It was also mentioned that in-class questions are always given sufficient and helpful answers. On the other hand, in AP World History, the more language-heavy course, students found in-class discussions to be the most valuable. AP Seminar, as usual, proved to be  unique in its positive aspects- the small class size and overall atmosphere received much praise. Jason specifically stated that everyone seems “genuinely enthusiastic about learning rather than receiving a good grade”, and that “a sense of competition is almost nonexistent”.

The sophomores also had a lot to say in regards to tips and recommendations for other present and future course-takers. Both AP Biology and AP World History students agreed that watching videos related to the course can be a very insightful and entertaining resource. Teachers are another resource that can never be over-utilized: they are there to assist you, and not being afraid to ask for help can be the vehicle for success in the course.  One specific tip shared by Jenny Chung (‘19)  was to keep asking the question “what if?” when analyzing different diagrams, in order to develop one’s critical thinking skills when approaching various situations. Otherwise, reading the textbook is a tried and true method that students can always return to if they lack the basic knowledge required.


That is, unless you are an AP Seminar student- AP Seminar does not have a textbook! As an alternative, reading different articles, being aware of diverse perspectives, and always keeping up-to-date with current events are ways of making sure you get the most out of the class. In fact, keeping up with current events is not only  recommended but required of the course, as class plans often shift in order to discuss new events.

Overall, every AP student interviewed agreed that time management is most integral. Being a victim of procrastination is a sure-fire way to land yourself in a tough spot. It is no coincidence that multiple AP Seminar students reported to pulling an all-nighter for the first time when their first individual research papers were due!


It is no debate that AP courses are difficult to manage- after all, they are meant to be college-level classes, to be an “extra step”. But in the competitive environment of a school like KIS, it is easy to start regarding them as necessities, mere numbers, or trophies to stack in your college resume. APs should be regarded for what they are: classes meant for enriching your interests and challenging the limits of your academic pursuits. In the end, every student is encouraged to take that “extra step”. All interviewees agreed to having a tough time, but they also gave the uniform statement that they did not regret taking the course in the least bit. So maybe it’ll keep you up some nights, and maybe it’ll keep your Powerschool on edge—but go ahead and take the leap of faith. You may discover a whole new world of enjoyment and passion.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)  & Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

*Banner: Crescentia Jung (’19)

What’s up, Sophomore? Issue No. 1

The “What’s Up?”series are back to introduce you to the new students of Class of ’19.

Students of the class of ‘19 are now in 10th grade, leaving the naivety of 9th grade behind and facing new challenges. With many joys and pitfalls awaiting them, the new sophomores are still struggling to believe they will never see freshman year again—and that junior year is creeping up.

Of course, just like any other year, they were met with an influx of new students. But the process of these new students becoming well-assimilated into the tight network of familiar faces can be a long and tough journey. For this first issue of the year, What’s Up, Sophomores? has interviewed four new students to introduce them to our readers and get an insight into what their first month or so at KIS has been like.

Woohee Kwak:

Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

This sweet girl has a bubbly spirit you’d spot from all the way across the room! Woohee moved from San Francisco, California, and joined the KIS class of 2019 at the start of this year. She is a member of Freshlight and KIS Med, and is glad to have found a place at these clubs. Read her full interview for more about how she is finding her transition to be:

How has your transition to KIS been?

I think the transition was okay. I got lost on the first day. Everyone seems nice. I don’t know that many people yet.

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Since the campus is huge, it was hard for me to memorize where all the classrooms are.

What is your goal for this year?

Goals for this year are that I want to make more friends.

What has been a memorable moment so far?

When we went on the EE Trip, I got to know more people in my advisory by going through the maze with them.

What are you most looking forwards the rest of the school year?

I’m looking toward to change clubs for spring because I want to experience other club activities.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 1 being the best)


Describe your KIS experience in one word


Laura Jang:

Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

Laura may be on the quiet side, but has a personality definitely worth getting to know. She lived in San Diego for about 3 and a half years, and then went on to attend a Korean public school for about 4 years. Such was her journey; and now she is a student at KIS! She is in Spirit Club and AWOO dolls, and appreciates the enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere that she has felt there. Read on about her new life at KIS:

How has the transition to KIS been?

To be honest, it wasn’t that easy for me to transfer from a Korean public school to an American curriculum based international school. It took me awhile for me to get used to the new education/grading system. Making new friends was also a little tough for me at first. Yes, I’m shy, so it might take awhile to get to know each other and but being shy doesn’t mean I don’t like getting along with people and be alone. I’m always open and would love to make new friends!!

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Getting used to the different school system and making new friends.

What is your goal for this year?

Try my best at all times.  Be nice, positive, and happy. Have fun!

What are you most looking forward to?
I just got in the backstage for the fall play, “The Matchmaker” and I’m really excited to work with new friends.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best)

Sara Yoo:

Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

Walk down the hallways and you will see this bright student with a warm smile. Sara moved from Alberta, Canada and joined KIS in the last minute, as she was one of the few students that got the spots. She is now a part of Freshlight, Key club, and AWOO dolls which she relish. Read on to find out how Sara’s KIS experience is going so far!

What activities/clubs have you joined this year? Are you enjoying them?

I joined Freshlight, Keyclub, and AWOO dolls, and I am enjoying all of them so far.

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Most challenging task was to get used to the new environment, and to memorize the school map ( i got lost a several times haha)

What is your goal for this year?

My goal is to finish this year off with good grades and good friends.

What has been a memorable moment so far?

Most memorable moment was the EE trip, not only I got to meet lots of new people, but also got to experience various activities which were quite interesting

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to all the events the school will be holding!

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best)

I’ll rate 8

Describe your KIS experience in one word

One word… discovery??

Yejean Kim:

Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

A cheerful and jubilant student, Yejean is from Hanyoung Foreign Language High School. She has joined eclectic range of clubs, including Poker and Probability, Debate club, and Math Competition, which she finds true value in. This ecstatic student radiates joy to others and brightens up others even when there is an overload of assessments; she will for sure make you smile.

How has the transition to KIS been?
It is wonderful!! Actually, I was kinda worried about not being able to make any friends here, but kids here are all friendly and I had no troubles at all to adjust myself to KIS life!!!

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?
The most challenging task for me is to keep up all the schoolwork. In my previous school, we didn’t have quizzes or homework every day, but here, there are quizzes and homework every day!!! It’s hard.

What is your goal for this year?
My goal… is to figure out strategies for getting good grades. And also to enjoy my life.

What has been a memorable moment so far?
Every moment is memorable for me.

What are you most looking forwards the rest of the school year?

I am looking forward to every events. They look fun. I like the fact that KIS has a lot of events.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 1- being the best)

Describe your KIS experience in one word

Adapting to a new school, or even a new country for some, can be challenging. However, as shown in the interviews, it seems that the students are adjusting to KIS well even after just over a month at school. As these new students gradually become even more integrated into KIS, they will no longer be called “new”: they will simply be students, a part of the family.

All the best of luck to the new students as they continue on their sophomore year with other former students!

*Will Class of ‘19 sophomore year become suffermore year? Find out about it only on the following “What’s up, Sophomore?” articles!

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh &  Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

* Banner: Crescentia Jung (’19)