We are now into week 12 of our lectures here at Yonsei and we are nearly heading to the end of the semester. May is a special month of the year for South Koreans. It is known as the “family” month. All public holidays relating to family and friends are gathered in the month of May, including children’s day, parent’s day, teacher’s day, adults’ day and even Buddha’s birthday.
Campus life here is amazing because of the fun school spirit. Just last week, the school held the annual AKARAKA festival. AKARAKA is one of the biggest events in Yonsei, it is a school wide festival for students where clubs and faculties within the school get together and sell food and promote the school. The school also invites popular bands and celebrities to come to the school for a big joint concert. You need to reserve your place for a seat at this concert, however. The price is 13,000 KRW (17.30 NZD) which is very cheap for a concert like this! It’s no surprise that getting a seat at the AKARAKA concert is very competitive which is why I couldn’t go!
The school also holds another massive event in semester two called “Yon-Go Jeon” or “Go-Yon Jeon”. Apparently, Korea University and Yonsei University have been rivals for a long time in history, and so every year, they hold a sports competition. Anybody coming to Yonsei or Korea University next semester could watch the sports competition and participate in some of the games.
The school is very strict in terms of attendance. I think this is the same for all South Korean Universities. All students are expected to attend every class and when you do not have a legitimate reason for not attending, the lecturer will deduct points from your grade. In some lecture rooms we have a digital card scanner, so every time we come to class we tag our ID card on the machine which checks our attendance. In some classes, lecturers give us a new four-digit number every time we come into class in which we enter into a special app called Y-attend, and that checks our attendance. Anyhow, although it depends on the lecturer, attendance is considered to be very important as it is indicative of how studious and diligent you are. Missing out on 1/3 of classes would mean an automatic fail grade.
Yonsei University is a Christian School. This is because the founder of the University was an American Missionary. Regular students of Yonsei University are required to attend a certain number of Chapel sessions before graduation. Because I am an exchange student, I am not required to attend any. There is a very big Hall where the chapel is held, and the students are designated seats for each session.
Yonsei University has a very big and beautiful campus. There are so many buildings in a very large campus ground, so it is very easy to get completely lost. I recommend future Yonsei exchange students to always carry a map with them in the first few days of school. There is a school cafeteria, which I did mention in one of my earlier posts, which offers great food for very good prices. There is a separate very beautiful building for foreign/exchange students. Inside the building, there are convenience stores, small restaurants, bookstores and a big lounge for students.
There is the central library and Samsung library for students. In order to get into this building, we are required to tag our ID cards and the electronic door would let us in that way. Also, the library has very strict rules. We are not allowed to eat or drink anything in the library but water. Laptops can only be used in designated areas and we have to reserve seats using the school app or a kiosk machine before we find a seat to study. The library is completely silent, however there are group meeting rooms that available for us to reserve and use.
The school also offers shuttle buses within the Sinchon Campus where most students stay and shuttle buses to and from Songdo – another campus in Incheon. Shuttle buses are open for reservation and can only be used for reserved students and they are completely free of charge. I went on the school shuttle bus once just to go visit the Songdo Campus. The Songdo campus is typically for first year students because all first-year students, apart from music and dance majors, at Yonsei are required to attend the Songdo campus and live in the dorms. Songdo is less busy compared to Sinchon but very close to the airport and the sea.
There are so many activities you can enjoy here at Yonsei! Yonsei has slightly different rules from Auckland, but it is not very hard to get around because the school is very welcoming to foreign and exchange students. I recommend Yonsei to anybody who is seeking fun and diversity!