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

Summary of INU Student Seminar

Hej hej hallå!

Back in Sweden after 12 days in beautiful Japan! My name is Ida, I’m a political science student at Malmö University and I had the opportunity to attend the INU Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace in Hiroshima this august.

The days in Japan were full of great experiences and the schedule was packed. Besides the academic part of the seminar, which included interesting workshops, lectures and a UN Role Play, we also did some cultural activities. Since the seminar took place on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we had the privilege to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony. It was certainly a moving ceremony and I’m really grateful for the chance to witness it.

Throughout the whole seminar we had UN role play preparations and were divided into different country groups. My country group was Cuba and the task was to write and present an amendment to a UN Resolution on Gender, Peace and Security. There was a lot of negotiations and discussions amongst the countries to persuade the others to vote in favor on one’s own amendment.

Thus, the last day everybody was quite nervous about their amendments and the outcome of the Roleplay. But it was a lot of fun and all the countries played their parts really well and the Role Play turned out to be a very exciting event! Cuba’s amendment passed and we celebrated with our cheering ”Hasta la victoria siempre!”

After the Role Play we had a diploma ceremony with all the students and professors and later on we had a farewell dinner. The dinner was well deserved and it was great to be able to relax some after a very intense and exciting week. It was also a bit emotional and sad to know that it probably would be the last evening all of us would spend together in Japan. When you spend a lot of time together in a short period and with such great people it’s hard not to get a little bit emotional when it’s time to say good bye.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island

Presenting Cuba's amendement at the UN Role Play

Presenting Cuba’s amendment at the UN Role Play

Diploma Ceremony

Diploma Ceremony

For me, the best part of the seminar was to get to know students from all over the world, to have great discussions and get more perspectives on gender, peace and security. The INU Seminar is truly a great opportunity and I can recommend everyone to apply for next year’s Seminar. I learned so much during my time in Hiroshima and I’m so grateful for the possibility to attend. Don’t forget to apply for next year’s seminar!

Ida

Last day of INU Summer School – Tuesday August 11th

The last day of our course at Hiroshima University was probably also the most exiting one. The role play – a simulation of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in order to promote gender, peace and security – lasted the whole day. The delegates of the different groups were determined to present their countries standpoints, issues and visions with flaming speeches, and the different proposed amendments for a new resolution were debated passionately.

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The day really provided an interesting insight in the world of international politics, including the rather disillusioning fact that national political and economic interests will always weigh more than the actual issue at hand (in our case gender equality, peace and security) within the UN structures.

After finishing the role play, we could finally get rid of our imposed national identities and reunite with the rest of the group in order to spend a beautiful last evening at the farewell party with all students and teachers. The night was concluded with a Karaoke session at a typical Japanese bar. The latter, like many other social activities, was arranged by our four classmates from Hiroshima University, who took extremely well – and very patiently – care of us during the whole week and brought us their culture and customs closer.

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We are very grateful to Malmö University and Hiroshima University under the International Network of Universities as well as to all teachers and the facilitating staff, for the opportunity to participate in this interesting course and to meet so many great people from all around the world.

INU Summer School – Monday August 10th

The theme of the day was the case of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The lectures were mainly concerned with human rights in and between these nations. Several interesting student papers were presented during the day with different takes on ASEAN. We also had time to freely discuss and ask questions to our two teachers Dr. Anthony Langlois, and Professor Steven Rothmann as well as to Dr. John Scherpereel, the chair of the International Network of University’s (INU’s) Academic Planning Committee, about anything related to academic careers and work life in general, which was very rewarding for us.

The evening was spent yet another time preparing for the role play and the hotel lobby was filled with different country groups trying to negotiate their way towards a successful outcome for their respective country’s interests the following way. Many secret alliances were plotted this night, but everybody knew that these alliances and promises could be broken at any point of the role play.

INU Summer School – Sunday August 9th

Today’s theme was “Strategic decision-making”. We had a lecture about game theory, basically it is about optimizing the success of your goals and minimizing the mistakes. Our professor introduced us to different games to see if we were able to calculate and choose the best outcome in some situations. The winners were awarded Japanese candy. Japanese candy is definitely different from western-style candy. We have at least never seen – or tasted – seaweed candy before…

At 11.02 we had a minute of silence in memorial of the victims of the second atomic bombing in Nagasaki. Hiroshima was the first city to be attacked and perhaps that is why Hiroshima often is mentioned more often when speaking of the atomic bombings, but the devastation of Nagasaki was just as severe as in Hiroshima.

In the afternoon we started to engage in fierce preparations for the upcoming role-play until late at night in the lobby of our hotel. While our Master’s students group was divided into two sub groups representing the USA and Russia, the undergraduate seminar students became representatives of nine other countries such as DRC, Sweden or Cuba.

Russia group work

The fun part about getting started with the preparations was definitely to sketch out first allies among the different groups of the undergraduate students, plot plans and to twist arguments and facts until they fitted our “national interests”. The latter was a task that was not always easy considering the fact that we were supposed to represent two extremely powerful countries with very distinct and, let’s say, sometimes questionable agendas.

INU Summer School – Saturday August 8th

This day started with an hour discussion around the past days. All events and the visit to the museum and the memorial ceremony had affected everyone deeply and stirred up a lot of feelings. The keynote lecture about “Peace and Security – What We Can Do For Tomorrow” by Mr. Tsuneo Nishida, the Director of the Institute of Peace Science at HU, gave complementary input and another opportunity for us to ask questions and reflect on the things we had learned and experienced the last few days.

During the rest of the day the lectures and a second mock-conference session were focusing on the second core theme of the summer school “Responsibility and Justice in Global Politics”. We also tried a Japanese game called Kendama, very difficult game to play. The Japanese students made it look very easy. Even though the rest of us got rather mixed results, we had a lot of fun playing it.

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INU Summer School – Friday August 7th

The second day of our cultural programme in Hiroshima. It was composed of an early visit in the peace memorial museum, a fun introductory session to the Japanese language, held by students of Hiroshima University, and lectures of Ms. Keiko Ogura and and Ms. Chieko Seki, two survivors of the a-bombing in Hiroshima in 1945.

chieko seki a-bomb dome Hiroshima

The programme was less exhausting than the one of the day of the memorial ceremony itself, which was good as we all needed time and space to process the impressions we had gotten the day before. That said – the day was by no means less emotional. The information provided by the excellent and moving exhibition in the museum, combined with the unique chance to listen to the stories of the two women who have been living in Hiroshima in 1945, gave us a lot more things to think about. Their reflections on how to avoid such a man-made catastrophe in the future, as well as what each and every one of us can do in order to create a more peaceful world provided the basis for an interesting and also controversial discussion the next day about the role of citizens and political stakeholders in the process of achieving and maintaining peace.

Thursday August 6th – Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the A-bombings

We left the hotel 05.50 in the morning to participate in the peace memorial of the victims of the atomic bombing that took place in Hiroshima exactly 70 years ago. The ceremony was really beautiful and emotional with approximately 40 000 visitors, so it was pretty crowded in the memorial park. Afterwards we had our first, and only, day off to do what we wanted. So we all decided on going to Miyajima Island just outside of Hiroshima. We took a ferry to the island and the ride was so beautiful, the landscape here is amazing- the mountains surround the entire city! On the Island there are actually tame deers which was amazing, they walked right up to us and wanted to be petted.

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There was so much to see on the Island and we got to see two different temples- both of them were breathtaking. In the evening we went to a latern ceremony, also very beautiful. Japan has so much history to offer for both natives and tourists. It truly is amazing to experience this.

lantern ceremony

The only kind of challenging thing was the weather, it is very hot and humid during the summer months in Japan. Oh, we are also struggling with ordering food sometimes- it can truly be quite an adventure when you do not speak Japanese and the staff does not speak English. It is not always quite clear what you are ordering, but so far we have managed quite well. Ellinor accidently ordered super-spicy Korean noodles, she will never make that mistake again.

INU Summer School – Wednesday August 5th

After our introductory lecture on global citizenship and peace on Tuesday we continued right away on Wednesday with the first seminar day. In the morning we started with an interactive session on the topic Global Governance and International Policy, which left much room for own reflections, the development of visions and group work. In the afternoon three of our group, including Ellinor, presented their papers in a first mock-conference session. These sessions provided a space in which peer reviews were presented to the authors of the different papers, in order to discuss strengths, possibilities for improvements and contents of the papers.

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In the evening we met the approximately 150 students from the other courses – the Undergraduate Student Seminar on Global Citizenship and Peace, the Summer School for Environmental Studies, and the INU Nursing Workshop. food

During the welcome reception the INU staff treated us with warm welcoming words, delicious Japanese food and sake. A great opportunity to get to know people from our group better and to meet all the others.