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