Korea vs Yonsei

Annyeonghaseyo!

Last weekend we had  the annual match between Korea University and Yonsei University. After practicing cheering we could finally use all the things we learned.

First Day

The first match was held at the Olympic Park. Really impressive! The tournament started with baseball. It was my first baseball match and I fortunately had a friend explaining the rules to me (confusing stuff). We cheered through the hole match and even the break. There were dancers that danced all the time, the true heroes of the tournament if you ask me! They danced for the whole day, non-stop! Impressive! We won at Baseball. KU won the last years, so Yonsei students didn’t really bother to show up. KU fans were going crazy, outnumbering and out screaming Yonsei completely! The atmosphere was fantastic, even if the game was rather boring (I guess Baseball was neither the strength of both teams).

After Baseball we tried to get into the Basketball stadium. No chance! Public viewing was a disappointment, as the screen was way too small. Most people left. Only those who had tickets watched Basketball and Ice Hockey. I would have loved to watch the two matches. Korea won Basketball and Yonsei Ice Hockey.

At the end of the first day KU was leading with 2:1

We were all super tired and exhausted after all that jumping. We all had so many bruises everywhere. Most of us went to bed rather early, some went out to Party. Cheering in the burning sun for the whole day is an experience!!

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Second day

We had to get up early on the second day of the match. They were expecting the stadium to be packed, as no one had classes at uni. I was one of the first people at the stadium. We waited for 4 (!!!) hours to get in. We were one of the last. Patience is not my strength, I was in a very bad mood. They told us to come as early as possible and then we realized it didn’t matter anyway! ARRGGG.

We started of with rugby. We lost. Cheering was still fun. It doesn’t really matter what´s happening on the field, we cheer anyway. Weird concept.

Next was football. I love football, therefore I had high expectations of the match. Well, let´s say both teams tried. Most “westerners” actively followed the game, the koreans were to preoccupied with cheering. Atmosphere was great. Yonsei was really in a better shape. We screamed and cheered as loud as we could. At the end it was 1:1 and the game just shopped. ???? What, 1:1, so no winner? We complained and were confused (westerners again). Well, apparently, the games were over and we tied with Yonsei. Maybe for the better, Afterwards we all dance together, there were no fights and everybody was happy. I was slightly sad that we had not managed to shot the winning goal.

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Evening:

Anam was basically a party street. Bars and restaurants hung up KU posters. There was a stage, playing all the cheering songs (like we hadn’t cheered enough already). There was free beer and snacks. It is a tradition that the alumni pay for food and drinks at the bars. You basically bar-hop all the time, cheer and scream. There was so much going on. Somehow, group 2 did not do anything special. We had the usual dinner and soju and then headed for a bar. I was disappointed, I wanted to be where the people were. I wanted to dance on the street and get free stuff, not having to sit in a stupid bar where nothing was free. I left and walked along the street enjoying the view of seeing old and young people dancing and partying together. The other groups mingled with the locals and have a crazy night. Some of my friends were basically forced to drink 😉

Unfortunately I missed that, but just seeing old people completely drunk and dancing all night long was worth it.I had to get up early anyway to go to Everland, a theme park close to Seoul.

Cheering was an amazing experience. I basically have no voice and more bruises that I can count. I have never experienced something like this. Maybe the World Cup Final in when we won against Argentina, people went completely nuts is comparable! In 10 years, I´ll try to go again and claim that I´m an “alumni” too, so that I can experience the atmosphere once again 😉

I´ve been in Korea for a month now and I’m enjoying every second of it!

Lena

Korean University System

Annyeonghaseyo!

I´ve been in Seoul for around a week, how time flies! In this post I´d like to talk about the Korean university system and compare it to the Swedish/European one. I base all the arguments on my personal experience and what I have been told about by others.

10 Similarities and Differences

1. University in Korea feels like being back in highschool. Professors check attendance and you get punished if you miss a class or are late. Furthermore, there´s homework (very simple one) and professors basically tell you what to do. However, uni is obviously more difficult.

2. Oldschool learning.  In Europe everything is about `critical thinking´ (whenever we actually think critically is open for debate). In Korea the sentiment is still: write as massive notes as possible, form study groups to go over the books and respond to the professor by quoting the text book. Even Though the professors are really trying to tell people that memorizing everything by heart won´t get them far, this has not really been effective. However, exchanges and international professors will allow the students to understand this concept. I´m positive that in around 10 years Korean university students will have understood that studying is not just memorizing everything.

3. Discussion ( at least that´s how they call it). In most of my courses the professors want to have discussions. THis is rather difficult, due to the size of the classes. In only one of my classes do we actually discuss things and people speak freely. In all other classes people are either too shy or simply rephrase what the book says. Students say something and not discussion by which I mean: EXCHANGE of ideas and opinions takes answers. It´s more like a Q&A.

4. Students sleep in lectures. Yes, we do that too by not like here. Koreans have to show up to lectures, so they are physically there but simply sleep thru the whole lecture. I personally dislike this a lot. If you make the effort to show up, then you better pay some attention or simply leave. If you are too tired or too bored just stay at home, that´s what I would do back home. Sleeping is highly disruptive, since it just looks weird.

5. Korean Unis are for catching up with everything you missed as a highschool student. Korea is a highly competitive society. If you don´t get into the top university´s you can forget about a career. Students basically study 24/7 during high school. When they have made it to the prestigious universities they can relax. Korean student´s can take various courses, even if there´s no link to their field of studies ( or maybe there is but I simply don´t get why a english major has to study international law). They can finally travel and have a social life. I was shocked to hear that most of the students only started to leave the country ( or even the city) after they graduated, before they were simply to busy. Yes, back home uni gives you more freedom and everything, but for Korean students it really is like breaking free from all that pressure before.

6. Pride.Students feel strongly connected to their university. I´m not used to this, I like my home university but don´t have strong feelings towards it. KU students adore their university. They all know how to cheer for their sports teams and are very active in the societies. Maybe this is because of the on campus university or because family is very important in Korea (really VERY!!!).

7. Societies. We have them too, sports, drama and music clubs. BUT: I´ve never seen that you have to apply and then attend an interview. I get that if you want to join the uni´s basketball team you should be good. However, joining the international affairs society does not really require much, except commitment and interest. I applied to join KIOSS ( Korea International Organization Student Society). I applied ( serious stuff) and was interviewed with three other people. Questions ranged from my personality to political questions. I doubt that the society has sooo many members that they have to be so selective. However, I know the reason. I talked to a girl that was interviewed together with me. I told her that I was amused of how the selection process works. She told me that the societies compete regionally and internationally, therefore they only want the best people to be members. Competition once again, I guess you can see the pattern. I surprisingly got in even though I don´t meet two of the requirements ( joining for 2 semesters and participating at the MUN at the end of January). I guess the chose me cause I´m rather experience and well: I´m not Korean. They claim to be a diverse society, I think that I´ll be the only foreigner, very diverse right 😉 I´m excited to join, as I want to meet more people and get involved.

8. TAs.Professors have Teaching assistant (TA). I know that professors have these too make in Europe. However, back in Malmö this is not the case. The TA answers questions, does the attendance and anything the professor needs ( getting the coffee or something).

9. Blackboard.We use Blackboard at KU; not It´s Learning, same thing basically

10. Computers. In most of the classes electronic devices are not allowed. This is surprising as everyone owns the newest Samsung tablet or computer

Things I really like about the University System in Korea 

– you can choose your courses, it´s a pain but like this you can study what you are interested in.

-cafeteria food is sooooo CHEAP!

– there are lots of societies, Malmö has hardly any. Clubs create university spirit, more of that please!

– professors are funny! I was very surprised, they actually make jokes.

– reading packages: all the reading material in one book, saves money and is better for your back

– on campus university: lots of parks, all faculties are closeby, a huge area, we have shops and restaurants on campus (Burger King for example), there’s a shuttle bus

-in every room there’s air conditioning, professors use microphones, there’s a weird looking machine/computer in every room: professors do not have to carry around their laptops ( they know how to use the thing too)

– professors are top and have very impressive CVs, elite university after all

– they merchandize of KU is impressive, I could buy everything!

-copy shops, people are super helpful and make everything for you. Super convenient, as I don´t get Korean Windows 😉

-free water everywhere

 

That´s all, I´ll tell you all about exams when I wrote them.

 

 

Weekend Trip to Busan

Annyeonghaseyo!

Last week I went to Busan with my friends. We stayed there for two nights and traveled by train. Busan is Korea´s second largest city in the south of the country. Travelling there does not take that ling (3-4 hours by train). We bought the KorailPass, which is super convenient. It is offered for foreigners and can be purchased for different number of days. We took the 3 day pass. You can travel unlimited and in any train with the pass.

Day 1

Our hostel was right next to the fish market. It is the largest in Korea and there is everything one can imagine. The smell of salt and fish is omnipresent in Busan. We had a huge plate of raw fish for a good price. Like sushi just without the rice. Really tasty! You put the fish in a leaf and add sauce. I did not like the leaf taste, therefore just ate the fish with the side dishes.

We walked around the city center on the search of bikinis (two of my friends forgot to bring theirs). We managed at the end, it´s already off season so it was a challenge to find something.

As the weather was so amazing we went to Gwangan beach. It was nearly empty. We were the only ones in the water (and it was NOT cold!). Koreans don´t swim or tan (like we did). Being tanned is ugly, therefore they just walk along the beach fully dressed! It is a strange feeling to be half naked whilst others are walking around in suits.

Swimming makes hungry so we enjoyed some chicken and beer close by. Fried chicken with different flavors are really popular in Korea. Try eating a chicken wing with chopsticks! The beer tasted like water, so a good refreshment. With our stomachs being filled we walked along the beach. The lights look beautiful. Busan has a very impressive skyline and bridge. The many lights really were something. Two of my friends bought cooked silk worms, the MOST DISGUSTING thing ever. I don´t have a problem eating weird things as long as they taste good. They didn’t and I strongly encourage you to NEVER to eat it! We walked for quite a while until we took the subway back to the hostel. Busan feels rather small compared to Seoul (it is!), but as it has 3,6 million inhabitants it takes a while to get around. We made one last stroll to the city center, where we got us a midnight snack and then sat with the hostel manager and his friends drinking rice wine. If you do not like soju, you should definitely try rice wine. For me it tastes like BananenWeizen (Germans know what I mean). I prefer it over soju, as it it has a taste and is not as sweet.

I shared my bed with Mango, the hostel cat. I don´t have any animals so it was rather weird. I tried to take up as little space of the bed as possible. Mango seemed to enjoy my company and stayed there for most of the night.

Day 2

After breakfast, we took the bus to the Cultural Village. Unfortunately the weather was not like the day before. It rained several times and the sky was not to be seen. The cultural village is a touristy area where you can look at street art, shops and eat local food. I thought it would be more historic. After the first disappointment I really enjoyed the Cultural Village. You had a fantastic view and there was lots to see. We tried Ssiat Hotteok ( Busan specialty), a pastry/pancake filled with roasted seeds. Very delicious and not too sweet.

We then took the bus and metro to the UN Cemetery. We had lunch at a very popular restaurant. We had another Busan specialty: Pork soup with rice. Very tasty and you feel super healthy afterwards (same effect as eating chicken broth when you´re ill). We then followed the signs to the UN cemetery. Somehow the sign were rather wrong and we ended up at the UN Peace Memorial Hall ( on top of the hill). The Memorial Hall is basically a museum about the UN´s involvement in the Korean war. Interesting fact: minimum number of soldiers required by each state was 1,000. Luxembourg was the exception as it only had a population of 200,000 at the time ( still makes me laugh!). We wondered were the cemetery is. It is the only UN cemetery in the world, where the soldiers are buried that died during the Korean War (except US soldiers, they are buried back home). We took the elevator to the observatory and saw the cemetery. Very impressive. The view was very good. After having seen this historic place we left.

Next on our list was the Beomeo-sa Temple. We took the subway and then the bus which takes you directly to the Temple ( if you find the bus!). Locate beautifully in the mountains Beomeo-san is very impressive. I´ve never seen a Buddhist Temple, so it was very interesting and exciting for me. It rained a bit, but the mysterious atmosphere made the Temple look even more impressive. Really, something you should not miss!

In the evening the hostel manager invited us to a party. We had pajeon (korean green onion pancake) and rice wine. There were four kids at the party, so there were lots of things going on. Unfortunately for Mango, the cat. Cats do not like to many people and the kids did not understand that. Mango hid under my seat for most of the party. We felt obliged to protect him from the “MANGOOOO” screaming kids. It was a perfect end to a really nice day.

Day 3

We took our things with us and drove to the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. The weather was fantastic! The temple was located at the ocean and very touristy. Many people were there to visit. The temple had a completely different atmosphere, but was just as beautiful. We had lunch and a perfect view over the water.

One of my friends had already left for Seoul in the morning. Two of my friends left after the Temple. The three of us left went to the beach. This time we went to Haeundae Beach, which is the most popular one. This time there were more people. But just like the other day, only foreigners were swimming or tanning. The Koreans borrowed the hanbok, traditional clothing, at the beach and then took pictures. It was rater absurd, we in our bikinis and they in their traditional clothing. I also want to wear the hanbok, but then with a more “korean” background like mountains or something. There was a group of jet-ski drivers at the beach. They let people (mostly women) sit behind them. My friend and me waved at them, hoping that one of the would take us with them. They got to us and then left, as they had no vest with them. They fortunately came back and have me a vest. I sat on the jet-ski and held on to the driver as much as I could. I could´t scream, as the driver didn´t like that. It was super FAST and FUN. I always wanted to try, but it was always too expensive. Now I got it for free. What wearing a bikini is good for 😉

We then walked around the Market and took the train back to Seoul. As it was Sunday, the train was completely booked and we had to stand. It wasn´t too bad.

We had a great trip and lots of fun!!!

That was all about the trip to Busan!

 

 

Cheering 2.0

Annyeonghaseyo!

Last week KUBA organized the cheering orientation . KU students take cheering VERY seriously, there´s an actual choreography. Why?? Well, every year there´s a tournament in various sports (such as basketball and baseball) against our rival Yonsei University. The match is called Koyeonjeon, Korea-Yonsei Rival Match (고연전). In order to make sure that KU wins, every student knows how to cheer.

We had instructors showing us what we had to do and most of us wore our red KUBA shirts. There are 18 different songs and choreography´s. Our buddies know all of them by heart. I can only remember two or so. It was extremely exhausting and FUN. I´ve never seen Koreans that excited and active. Amazing! Everybody was jumping and dancing like there´s no tomorrow. Some even hurt themselves cause they were overdoing it.

Afterwards we went for dinner and to have some soju (standard combination in Korea). What a fun day. I look forward to the match, were KU will obviously win! In cheering at least, as Yonsei apparently does nothing exciting during the match.

Picture Credits go to the KUBA, who took lots of fun pictures! Thanks for that!

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Go, KU, Gooo

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10429415_1480018805635913_484106949306788950_nTotally exhausted after that work-out!

 

Til the next time,

Lena

Introduction Week

Annyeonghaseyo!

Uni has started. At my uni it is common to have a so called “introduction week”, where students can add and drop courses after attending different classes. The first lecture I had was held by a german professor (how ironic). For whatever reason I thought the course would be about human development and not just economics. Well, first and last economics lecture 🙂 The topic was interesting, but as I was registered for 6 courses, I had to drop one. 6 is simply too much. As I have no economic background whatsoever the first course had to go.

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All professors think that attendance and punctuality is important. Attendance is mandatory in most classes and you get points removed, if you are late or do not show up. Maybe this is because otherwise no one would ever show up. I don´t know. You can tell that KU is one of the top three universities in Korea. The professors have impressive CVs, so do the alumni. Everybody was very strict in the first lecture, to scare off as many students as possible 😉 They told us that the second lecture.

Most classes are rather small, same as in Malmö. One course, Chinese Politics is so packed. The professor uses a microphone and we have to bring a name placard  to every class. Discussion is important and also around 20% of the total grade. Easy, they just want you to talk. You don´t even have to be correct. Non-Koreans benefit, we are used to discussing and saying things in the lecture. Koreans aren’t. They were not taught this in school and are extremely shy. We also have oral presentations, some Korean students were terrified and dropped the class because of this. However, as KU is an elite university the students are really dedicated and know there stuff. I´m looking foward to learn a lot. Furthermore, students always seem very interested in Korea and how things affect Korea. This is very surprising for me. When I study Chinese politics for example, I do not really care how that would affect my home country. At an international and global level, yes not not at an national level. I´ll probably learn a lot about Korea by just listening to the professor and my fellow classmates.

Additionally to attendance and participation we have exams. Mid-terms and finals. No essays like in Malmö but sit-down exams. That’s fine for me, I can do that 😉

The best thing ever! I have no clue how copyright works in Korea, but it seems non-existent. For each course there´s a reading package, with photocopies of all the chapters and articles we have to read. The copies are nicely bound into a book. The book then costs a fifth of what one would spend if you buy it new. Also another benefit: you don´t have 10 books but just one! I love it, so convenient!! Malmö should have this too.

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In most classes we didn’t do much. The professors just talked about the outline of the courses. However, three of my professors actually started with the course on the second meeting in the week. Others cancelled the lecture. I had no problems with my courses and I was lucky to have an extra course just in case. Many exchange students had lots of problems registering and getting enough credits. We are rather limited what we can study, in Korea it is okay for a English studies student to study international law for whatever reason.

I´m impressed my the atmosphere at uni. The professors are strict but nice (perfect combination). I’ve been told that Koreans catch up their teens at uni, as before they study 24/7 for the final exam. Getting in is hard, when you´re in it´s not that difficult… At least I hope so. The workload is more, as I have two more courses than in Malmö. Lots of reading, but that´s easy for me. I have most of my classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Mondays and Wednesday I´ll use for studying and doing the readings. Fridays are free!!

I wish everybody a good start for the new semester!

Lena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sightseeing in Seoul- My Top 10

Annyeonghaseyo!

I’ve been in Seoul now for around two weeks and in that time I´ve seen quite a lot in Seoul. There are still many things I haven´t seen as the city is so huge and has lots to offer. I´ll show you some of my favorite places in Seoul, both touristy and more local.

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Seoul has several places in the city center surrounded by skyscrapers. Something I find very unique for a city. Gyeongbokgung was the first thing I visited in Seoul, as it was the first thing in my tour guide 😉 Like everywhere you can watch the changing of the guards. I personally always enjoy that and in Korea people are dressed up nicely and they´re a huge show around it. I immediately bought a combination ticket for all four palaces as it was really cheap, the ticket was only 71 SEK, what a great deal!

They offer tours in english several times a day. I was lucky to arrive shortly before the tour started. The guide was wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and showed us around the huge palace. I would really advice you to take the tour, as otherwise you do not know what building you are currently looking at. The tour was around 1 hour 30.

Korean palaces are really colorful and rather plain, with lots of buildings. The king had his own path to walk on, I walked on it just because I can 😉 The queen was not allowed to leave the palace, therefore she had a garden at the back of her residence where she could see the changes of the seasons. Also something very interesting: in the palace the korean alphabet (hangul) was invented, so a very historical place.

2.Changdeokgung Palace

This palace is smaller but the most preserved palace in Seoul, therefore being UNESCO world heritage. The palace´s buildings are similar to the Gyeongbokgung but have their own flair.Once again, in order to see the palace it is advisable to join a tour. The tour takes around an hour and is very informative. The highlight of the palace is the secret garden, which covers the most space of the palace. In order to see the secret garden an extra ticket must be purchased ( for very little money) and you HAVE to join a tour in order go inside. The secret garden is a must ! The tour takes around 2 hours and involves lots of walking (uphill!). The guide said that he lost 25 kg just by walking around the garden.

The secret garden is an oasis in the middle of a 10 million people city. Korean landscape architecture focuses a lot on nature and growing things naturally. Very different to japanese or english gardens. There are several buildings inside the garden where the King relaxed and invited officials for parties and ceremonies. The garden is secret as it was not open for public whilst the king was alive ( luckily for us, the king died decades ago).

 

Note:

All historic buildings in Seoul and Korea in general are not original! During the Japanese invasion in 1592-1598 all historic and cultural sites were distroyed.  Changdeokgung palace was rebuilt in 1610. Gyeongbokgung was destroyed aswell and then once again during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945). Only in the last decade did the government rebuild the palace and several parts of the palace still are under construction. It is fascinating how Korean culture survive the occupation and the government invests a lot of money and effort to restore the cultural heritage.

 

3. Bukchon Hanok Village

Hanok are traditional korean homes. There are not many left in Seoul, therefore the hanok´s in Bukchon are very special. Small houses with cafes, shops and restaurant. It is a very touristy area, however really interesting and there is lots to see. You can spend hours walking around (HILLYYY) and the cute shops really offer a variety in things.

4.Gwangwamun Square

Probably the most photographed area in Seoul. Gwangwamun is a huge square that starts at Gyeongbokgung Palace and leads to the City Hall. A pedestrian street allows you to enjoy the fantastic view. On the square there are two important statutes: Admiral Yi Sun-sin and Kind Sejong. Both statues are very impressive.

Closeby is the artificially made Cheong-gye-cheon stream, which allows one to escape the fast pace of the city. It is very popular among young couples to go there. You can cool your hurting feet and enjoy the light show in the evenings. Have a look at the city hall, even if it´s just to fill your water bottle!

5. Myeong-dong

SHOPPING! Seoul is famous in Asia for being a shopping mecca! There´s everything. From high end products at Lotte Department store to cheap (fake ) clothing on the market. Especially beauty products are popular. I have never seen so many beauty shops in my life, they repeat every 100 meters. Koreans love their brands, Samsung, LG and korean beauty brands. In order to gain strength you can buy lots of korean food on the streets! Most of it is spicy so be careful!

6.Noryangjin Fish Market

FISH, FISH, FISH. So much fish! The Noryangjin Fish market makes fish lover´s hearts beat faster. Everything that swims in sea and ocean can be purchased here. All is fresh as most things are still alive and fist killed when bought. I did not try any of the fish, as there was too much to choose from. I will have to do so! Baby octopus is very popular. NO, it is not alive! The octopus is killed seconds before you eat it (raw). The octopus´s reflexes are still functioning therefore eating it can be a challenge. Remember to take a video!

7.Han River

The Han river divides the north and south of Seoul. Lots of outdoor activities are offered along it´s banks. Try some jetski or anything else. Janwon Park is popular among locals as you can do sports, relax and enjoy the fantastic view on the city, I did a boat tour ( I always do one, if a river is close). It was fantastic. Seeing something from a boat is always exciting and fun.

8. Gangnam

Gangnam is not just popular because of a certain song, but due to it´s trend setting shops and people. Gangnam is an outer district that has everything to offer. Great clubs, expensive and alternative shops, art galleries and nice restaurants. Gangnam really is worth a visit. So far I enjoyed Sisadong Garosu-gil street the most. Fantastic shops for a rather small budget and young designers can be found on the ginkgo lined road.

9.Olympic Park

Olympic parks are always impressive, in my opinion. Seoul hosted the Olympic games in 1988. The Olympic Park offers a lot. Museums, sports and history. Walk around and feel the olympic spirit. You can walk along the Mongchontoseong Fortress on which you´ll learn about the history of the early Baekje period. Many concerts and sports events take place in the olympic park. I visited the SOMA Museum of Art to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition. Sculptures can be found all around the museum.

10.Itaewon Street

Itaewon is the area where you find the most foreigners. Restaurants offer food from all around the world. If you get home sick, you should come here and eat your local food.Lot´s of shops, restaurants and clubs guarantee a good time.

 

5 Tips for sightseeing in Seoul.

1. Buy a Tmoney card for the Subway, the “Subway” app is great for the metro.

2. Get a free Tour Guide from the Tourist Information ( each site has the metro stop and exit written on it, super handy).

3. Buy a good tour guide. I´m old fashion, I prefer a paper tour guide. I´m using the one from Lonely Planet. Any tour guide is goo, as long as it has a good map in it 😉

4. Inform yourself about the hours for the tours around the palaces

5. Most museums are free and there´s air conditioning

 

Wow, that was a lot. Hope that I didn’t bore you to death.

Somehow, once again I couldn’t add pictures as they were to big. Sorry for that! I´ll try to fix this asap!

Lena

 

 

 

 

 

Orientation

Annyeonghaseyo!

Last Monday and Tuesday we had orientation. KUBA (Korea University Buddy Association) organized the orientation for the exchange students. Everybody showed up very early in order to make sure to find the building. KU campus is HUGE!!!

We were welcomed by the university´s president and by the office of international affairs. We are about 600 exchange students from all over the world. Most of the people are from Asia. They told us about the university’s history and about its goal to become ever more international. KU is one of the three elite universities in Korea, therefore studying there is a privilege. Only the top 1% get a spot at this university. I must admit that I´ve never heard of the university, but I am rather uninformed about universities in general. If their not Harvard, Yale, Oxbridge or MIT ;). You can really feel that students are proud to study there, and they should!

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After that we had to kill some time before lunch, so the buddies showed us around the huge campus. You´re basically doing your work-out by simply walking up and down the hills. The campus is beautiful. It is new but looks very old. In Korea it is common for companies such as LG to sponsor things and have their name on the buildings. KU receives the most money from sponsors and alumni in Korea, therefore the buildings look super fancy.

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We received a welcome package with useful information and a pen (I LOVE PENS). After all the speeches we went to lunch. As we are so many exchange students we´re divided up in several groups. I´m in group 2, our name is “We like 2 Party”. Our group has around 50 people. Lunch was great and for free! We got a 5,000 Won voucher (36 SEK) and we could pick so many different foods. A mathematics student managed to pick food and drinks for exactly 5,000 Won. Mathe is useful after all ;). The campus has several cafeterias, restaurants, shops and even a Burger King.

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After lunch we registered on the university’s portal. This took ages, as everything was in korean at first. But my buddy was very patient with me and we managed in the end!

Tuesday, started with registration.This session was rather funny. We all sat in a huge room filling out the registration form simultaneously. Everything was in korea and we did not know what we were actually signing. We were told it is for the student ID card and the obligatory bank account. If you don’t hear from me at some point you know why 😉 It took us over an hour to complete filling out the papers. We had to sign 40 times and write our name in korean. Unfortunately I had the stupid idea to write my full name (Lena Caroline), and not just my first name. Lena is very easy to write :레나. Lena Caroline, on the other hand not so much 레나 캐롤라인. Luckily I have a short last name so that was fine. Koreans have very short names, some people did not have enough space for their names!

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Once again we had free lunch. Very rewarding after all that signing and filling out! After lunch we handed in our alien registration sheet ( registering as a temporary resident of Korea). Then the office of international affairs offered workshops about like in Seoul in english, chinese and japanese. Guess which one I picked ; A Canadian and a Korean Kiwi held the workshop, very interesting and entertaining. We were able to ask questions.

After all the administrative work we had chicken and beer ( a very popular combination here) close to the university. My group nearly filled up the entire restaurant. The chicken was good and had different flavours. The beer was disappointing (hey, I´m german I have the right to complain) and rather tasteless. Afterwards we went to a bar where we had soju. Soju is a liquor with 20% ( there are ones with a higher percentage too). It is tasteless and be compared with a very very weak vodka. Koreans love soju!! They sell soju with different flavours (grapefruit, lemon, peach), which taste like lemonade. Soju is a rather dangerous drink and grives you great hangovers. Korea has a strong drinking culture. It is common that you go out with your colleges and drink soju. The company pays! So you can imagine that people pour as much soju into themselves as possible. Seeing passed out people on the street is common.

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Wednesday, people recovered from jet lag, hangovers and lack of sleep. On thursday several people joined the optional city tour. I had already been at  of the places, so did not join. I visited another palace instead which was amazing.

For the rest of the week we explored the city. A friend of mine heard that you can buy cheap glasses in korea. I was sceptical! The woman in the shop spoke broken english, but she was an expert in her field! We managed to communicate. “Not good, not good”: glasses do not fit. “Good, good”: glasses fit. And so on. We managed to get a discount by looking really sad and saying “soooo much !”. After 20 minutes the glasses were done! I could not believe it and asked my friend if she can actually see something. She could, perfectly! So if you ever come to Seoul and need new glasses: buy them here !

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That was my summary of the orientation. I apologize for the masses of text.

Stay tuned!

Lena

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Seoul

Annyeonghaseyo!

I´ve arrived! After being nominated for exchange studies already in October last year, I have been counting the days to go to Korea!!

The flight was rather unspectacular. I tried to sleep ( not as successful) and the food was great. I had Korean bibimbap ( boiled rice with vegetables) and it was the first food I ever had on a plane which had a taste. Good start! If airplane food is good, how bad can the actual food in Korea be?? I basically started documenting  everything  I eat the second I left the airplane.

First day in Seoul

I arrived on the 20th, a few days before the orientation. I wanted to have some time to get used to the time difference, the climate (HUMID, is all I can say) and get to know the city. I stay at a guesthouse off campus, which is super convenient and only 5 minutes away from uni. The university offered on-campus housing, but I was rather terrified of having to share a room with other people for 4 months and the strict rules in the dorms were rather unattractive. Guesthouses are a good option. Clean ( just like everything in this city), quiet ( rules exist here too) and affordable. Basically only exchange students live here, including the whole Malmö delegation. We are a group of three people that study completely different things, but get along great. SVERIGE!!!

Before coming to Korea, I read some books about it and studied my tour guide. Preparation is everything! I knew how to get to my Guesthouse from the airport. Well, in theory. Practice is always different. But after short period of walking around the airport trying to find the subway station, the lady at the Tourist Information could help. From then on it was a walk in the park. A mongolian man helped me (even carried one of my luggages) to master the public transport. I eventually found my place, luckily bumped into the manager and was able to settle into my room straight away. All super fast. I was really surprised, I had imagined it to be way more complicated. People that came by taxi apparently had more problems. I even always had someone to help me with my luggage, real gentlemens here in Korea. BUT, just to be clear, I always carried the big luggage myself 😉

Transportation

    Getting around in Seoul is super easy. Stations have numbers and are written in English. Public transport is cheap, convenient and safe. I straight away bought a prepaid card for the public transport to get around the city. The strange thing is that even though Seoul is famous for it´s nightlife, the subway stops at around midnight and starts again in the early morning at around 5:30. I have been told that this is because they made a deal with the taxi drivers ( luckily cheap too). When you use the subway frequently you even learn some korea. Amazing.

Korean Buddy

I immediately felt welcome in Korea. People are so friendly, even if communication sometimes is a big problem. Around Anam (where I live) there are lots of shops and cheap restaurants. It really is a student residence area. All exchange students were assigned a buddy. A buddy is a Korea University student that helps the exchange students around. They organize events and try to guide the students, like ESN basically. My buddy is super nice and she helps me with everything. When I have a question or struggle with something she know what to do. Really helpful!

I´ve visited many places already, but that´s for another entry. Follow me on Instagram, as I´m constantly uploading pictures there! Instagram: Swedenlover94

Some pictures. Trust me I do a lot, but somehow I can’t upload that many here.

Myeong-dong, shopping street.

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– Chenggyechon stream, artificial city in the middle of the city

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Stay tuned! Coming up next: a summary of the Orientation (including a short presentation of my uni) and the places I´ve visited so far.

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this. I first have to get used to this whole blogging thing, including figuring out how to use the blogging website. 

Sunny Greeting from the Seoul- The Soul of Asia!

Lena