Campus Life – Lucy

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.

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Picture of Underwood Building

Events

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.

Academics

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.

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Picture of the school church hall

Campus Facilities

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.

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Picture of Songdo Campus

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.

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Picture of school campus grounds

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!

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Food, Glorious Food – Lucy

Hi guys! We are now half way through the semester here at Yonsei. I am taking three papers this semester, so I have three mid-semester exams spread throughout this week and next week. Some of my friends do not have mid-semester exams for some papers. Lecturers for each paper can decide on whether or not to have mid-semester exams for their taught courses. So, if you are lucky, you will only have a final exam at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, all of my lecturers decided that they would give mid-semester exams.

One big difference I noted is that we do not have a mid-semester break here at Yonsei. There is no break within the semester. The only breaks we get throughout the semester are certain public holidays like Children’s day and Buddha’s Birthday. So, we are powering through the semester with no time for chilling!

Let’s get back to the theme of this blog post, Food! Food here in South Korea is amazing. It’s not only the traditional food of Korea, but also the various different kind of fusion cuisines and foods from other cultures. Food has been the biggest happiness of my life ever since landing here. (Note: It is approximately 700-800 KRW for 1 NZD!)

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4,500 KRW Cafeteria Chicken and Cheese Gratin

I did try Yonsei’s cafeteria food. I heard that the school cafeteria is free for all primary and secondary school students. Tertiary level students need to pay to eat cafeteria food. But the price is very cheap compared to restaurant meals.

A long roll of Korean style sushi, called Kimbap, is only 1,800 KRW, which is approximately 2.50 NZD. There are a lot of options you can choose from. The campus has many cafeterias, which offer a variety of meal options for cheap prices. The menu has slight variations and the menu for each week is posted up on the school website and school app, so you can check the options before heading out to the Cafeteria. I got a chicken and cheese Gratin for only 4,500 KRW, which is only about 6 NZD! The school cafeteria is very popular so there is a huge queue to order. However, the system is very organized, so once you order you get a ticket with a number. Then, you simply wait at your table and when your number appears on the screen, you go pick your meal up.

Other than school cafeteria food, students can take a two-minute walk out of campus to streets full of restaurants. I’ve selected my top two experiences with Korean food, foreign food and dessert to show you guys.

Korean Food:

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33,000 KRW Tofu Stew

 

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22,000 KRW Spicy and Cheese Chicken

Foreign Food:

 

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27,000 KRW in total for all three dishes. Japanese style cuisine
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9,900 KRW Beef Steak and Pink Beetroot Pasta

Dessert:

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10,900 KRW Cotton Candy Marble Ice Cream Snow Ice

 

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1,000 KRW for 3 Fish-shaped Red Bean Bread

I hope I made you guys hungry and mouth-watering by now! I really recommend coming here and getting a taste of the food  here!

I wish you guys – and myself – all GOOD LUCK for upcoming tests and assignments, and I will come back with my next post about my campus life!

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Accommodation Awards – Lucy

As I said on my last blog post, I am not staying at the school dorm. I rent a separate little house far from campus, outside of Seoul. These little houses are called “Offistels” in South Korea. It is a combination of the two words “Office” and “Hotel” together. The place is basically a one room house with all the basics in a very small space. The “offistels” are about the size of a one room apartment in Auckland City. I pay approximately 850 NZ dollars a month for the “Offistel” but all other bills – such as electricity, water and internet – I have to pay separately.

I usually take the bus to uni, which takes approximately 30 minutes to one hour – depending on the traffic and what bus I take (there are so many options!). I could take the subway to school as well! The subway is very popular in South Korea. It takes you to almost anywhere in Seoul and KyungKi-Do. It is very fast and convenient but it is almost impossible to get a seat in the mornings so I prefer taking the bus in the mornings.

I will explain how the on-campus accommodation works at Yonsei, just in case you guys are curious about them. Yonsei’s on-campus dorms are amazing. It takes less than 5 minutes to walk to the dorm from the main campus area – but this really depends on whereabouts in the campus you are because the campus is huge – and beautiful!

There are two main dormitory buildings in Yonsei Sinchon Campus. The first one is called the International House. This building offers double rooms only – you will have to have a roommate – and there are common bathrooms on each floor. Other than that, there are various facilities including a study room, a lounge, a laundry room, a seminar room and a kitchenette. These are shared by the residents of the building. The second building is called the SK Global House. This building offers both single and double rooms and a private bathroom in each room. Compared to the International House, there are more facilities included like a Music Room and a Multi-functional room. I found that most exchange students stay in the SK Global House because it is more convenient and has more facilities.

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Living in the dorms gives you access to the amazing and busy city life of South Korea. There are so many restaurants, cafes, and bars that open all night in Sinchon. Also, you will be able to make friends from all over the world by living in the dorms. The transport is so convenient so you will be able to take yourself to almost anywhere in the country. On the other hand, living off campus may be a bit cheaper, but you would be exposed to a different side of South Korea – not only the busy city but the relatively relaxed KyungKi- area. Whichever you prefer, I have no doubt you will enjoy the experience! I will come back with more exciting stories in the next one! Thanks so much for reading.

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First Impressions – Lucy

Hi guys! Sorry about the late update! So much has been going on here at Yonsei and I have been trying to select the best of content for this first official blog post. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the orientation session that was held on the 23rd of the last month. I only got to fly out to South Korea on the 1st of March which was the day before the first “official” start of the semester at Yonsei. Luckily, my first class started on the 5th of March because Fridays are my day offs – my timetable was set that way.

The campus

So on the morning of the 5th of March, I was up for a 9am start. Unlike Auckland University, the very first class of Yonsei starts at 9am. I first thought myself lucky because I was so sick of 8am lectures and I thought 9am would be much better. But, soon I regretted that thought of being an early bird.

Yonsei’s campus is massive and magnificent. It is beautiful! But massive and magnificent campuses are not exactly what you want when you are running late for a 9am lecture with no maps. I got off the bus, entered through the wrong gate and was wondering around at the school of engineering, thinking that was the whole school. I was soon approached by a friendly stranger, who kindly told me that I was in the opposite side of where I was supposed to be.

All the buildings in the campus are very aesthetically pleasing. They are all well-labelled with such beautiful names too.

The school has a cafeteria that is packed with students. The cafeteria offers good food for cheap prices. I got my Cheese and Chicken Gratin for only 4500won, which is only about $6!

Traffic

I am a lot different from the other exchange students in that I got my own little home to stay in Ilsan, which is on the boundary of Seoul. This means that I get to take a lovely 40-minute bus ride to School and back every morning and after class.

Although on the first week I hated myself for living out of campus, and I still do when I am standing and holding on to a little pole on a people-packed bus every morning, I am starting to appreciate that too. I feel like I am exposed to the more real side of South Korea that way.

People travel by bus, subway and taxi. Subway, being the cheapest option, is the most popular and it is impossible to get on it during rush hours. I like the buses here. There are so many bus options you can take that get you to the same place, and all the buses come every 5 to 10 minutes.

Places

I tried to make most of my day offs on Fridays and the weekends to travel and eat. So far, every weekend I have been going out with friends and family.

On the first weekend during my stay in Korea I went to Kyung Bok Goong and Jong Myo. Kyung Bok Goong is a traditional palace where the King and his Queens used to live nack in the Lee Dynasty in Josun. The place was full with foreigners as it is the most popular tourist attraction in South Korea.

Then we took a 20 minute walk over to Jong Myo. Jong Myo is a shrine in order to commemorate and pay respect to the Kings and Queens of the Lee Dynasty in Josun. This shrine is located in the central area of Seoul and could only be visited when accompanied by a tour guide. I found not only Jong Myo but also the whole street surrounding Jong Myo fascinating because many store fronts with English names were written in the Korean alphabet – even Starbucks! I heard it was in order to celebrate the Korean language.

Food

Food is AMAZING!! The food is cheap, varied and everywhere. I think it is better shown than said.

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Culture Shock

  • People. People. There are so many people here. The geographical size of South Korea is about one third of New Zealand, but there are more than 12 times the population size. Seoul alone has more than twice the entire population of New Zealand. Everywhere I go is full of people.
  • So many things to eat, buy and see. There are so many “things” in South Korea. So many options when I go shopping, eating and sight-seeing.
  • Iced Americanos instead of Flat Whites and Latte. It is freezing cold here but people enjoy iced drinks. Especially, iced Americanos! It is a national favourite! I go to a Café, and Americanos are the first and best-selling thing on the menu. I am a Flat white lover, and I found two Cafés with Flat whites out of literally twenty Cafés I have been so far.

So much has been going on during the past two weeks. I am so excited to come back with even more interesting stories to share! xx

Best Regards,

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