Wow, time really does fly when you’re having fun. Hard to believe it’s already been two months since I arrived in Korea and that we’re already halfway through the semester. Midterms were a reality check for everyone here. We’re at the end of the two-week period now, I finished my last midterm just this morning!!
I must say, I hate to break it to you all but most courses here do not provide lecture recordings which means that yes, even if the class is hybrid or online I would recommend you attend lectures. As all of my classes are offline, I walk to campus every day and on the days I have multiple classes, sometimes I stay on campus rather than going back to my dorm oooorrrr I go back and take a nap.
With midterms, I’ve definitely made the most of the cafe culture around here. There are tons of cafes in the area and it’s pretty common to find them packed with students and their notes, especially during exam time. Buy a drink (iced americanos are typically the drink of choice for many Koreans but well um coffee? …bleh) or a dessert to keep you going and stay there for as long as you want, or until they close unless of course a 24-hour cafe.
Unlike many other universities located in the more trendy, touristy areas like Sinchon and Hongdae, KU is located in Anam which is relatively further away from the centre of Seoul meaning its quieter and has more of a cozy community feeling. All the local store staff are really warm and welcoming. Food is also relatively cheaper *wink wink*. Need daily cardio to work off all the calories? Don’t even worry about it, the hills got you covered. Sometimes the hills are hell BUT the school does run a free shuttle bus so that’s also an option on those particularly tiring days ㅎㅎ.
This year, with the end of midterms comes the annual 고연전 (Ko-Yon Games) which is being held this year for the first time since the pandemic started. The Korea University vs Yonsei University rivalry exists constantly but peaks during the games and is a prime example of Korea’s varsity culture. Not sure if you saw my Instagram takeover, but that cheering orientation was in preparation for the games…yeah, school spirit and school pride are massive here. It’s extremely common to see university students walking around wearing varsity jackets with their school’s name and emblem on them. Regular students will also have their department embroidered on the back of their jackets.
Obviously, I need to finish on food. As the weather gets colder lots of street food stalls are popping up. One type, in particular, is my favourite: 붕어빵 (fish-shaped pastry)! They’re warm, crispy but soft and just the right amount of sweet. 100% a general fan favourite. There’s a stall at one of the area’s main intersections that constantly has a line of students waiting. Of course, it’s also ridiculously cheap. Four classic red bean pastries for 1000KRW (~1.20NZD)!!!
Editing this a week after this post was ready to go live, I would like to take the opportunity to extend my condolences to the victims and families of those involved in the tragic events that took place in 이태원 (Itaewon) during the halloween weekend. It was an incident that no one foresaw and something that should have never happened. Rest In Peace 🕊
Hello and welcome to an introduction to my first taste of life as an exchange student at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, South Korea.
Flight time to South Korea averages around 12 hours so by the end of the flight I was most definitely feeling it. However, jet lag is non-existent compared to some others I’ve met. Just sleeping and waking up a little earlier. It momentarily fixed my sleep schedule (⁀ᗢ⁀).
It’s the end of summer, going into autumn and I’m not going to lie, as someone who much prefers cooler temperatures and has hardly ever experienced above high-mid 20s, some days just…I…(ㅠ_ㅠ). In all honesty, I feel like I have never sweated so much in my life before. TMI? Sorry not sorry.
Across the two days of dorm move-in, KU provides a free shuttle bus that will take students from Incheon Airport to the dorms in Seoul. Both CJ International House and Anam International House are foreign students only, hence the ‘International’. Unlike in New Zealand, it’s normal for dorms to house double rooms instead of the singles common in UoA halls.
Orientation was about a week after my arrival and man, exchange students everywhere…probably because it was an exchange/visiting student orientation. Unfortunately, it was raining which meant the campus tour had to be skipped but it was a free lunch（〜^∇^ )〜. During orientation they covered the standard admin including guidelines and expectations of KU life, and also walked us through the process of applying for an ID card with a financial function i.e. can be used as a debit card attached to a Korean bank account.
Each exchange/visiting student is pre-assigned a KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistants) buddy and group who are essentially the ones designated to help internationals adjust and get through both the semester at KU and life in Korea in general.
It didn’t take much for me to get settled and used to the way of life here. But neither my East Asian cultural background nor the Western environment I was raised in could prepare me for the lack of public bins or the amount of trust people have to just leave bags, let alone valuables, unattended at tables in cafes (like..???).
Speaking of cafes, as expected, there’s so much food here, good food (^-^). My stomach is thriving, my wallet maybe not so much. BUT, as the conversion rate is so low at the moment, my wallet isn’t crying as much as it normally would be.
With my broken Korean, I manage to find my way around and communicate with most people just fine. Seoul is generally pretty well signposted in English and all the relatively more important aspects of Seoul life such as public transport are very easy to navigate. Locals will do their best to try to communicate with you and if all else fails, whether you be shopping, getting food or just trying to find your way around, body language is a universal language.
All of us international students, whether study abroad, exchange, or full-time, were invited to the International Orientation.
I was expecting quite a lot initially, with activities like introductions to the school, campus tours, interaction and games among the things on my mind.
These expectations were quickly put out after it became apparent that none of that was about to happen (it ended up being a 3-hour lecture, with various speakers). While that was disappointing, it was also where I managed to meet up with a few familiar faces.
Amazingly, I met not only a peer from my high school, but also a junior; one on exchange from Canada, and the other from Singapore.
These were people I hadn’t spoken to for years, and…with them I managed to meet a whole group of students from Singapore, my hometown. This was the first sense of familiarity and support I felt since all of my time was spent alone prior.
I’m not sure, it always feels really cool to me to meet someone, unplanned, in a foreign place. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, that was really nice.
With the start of the semester, the entire campus came to life, and this once again filled me with excitement.
It’s kind of an unconventional way of thinking to bring to an exchange programme, but to me the major aim of my time here is really to immerse myself…in the university life. It feels strange to a lot of people I’ve spoken to that I don’t really have much desire to travel and sightsee…but it was the case for me, because to me it felt that if it was about sightseeing, I could always do that by myself… in the future. The university experience was the one that I knew, and recognised, would only come once. An important factor here was that while many of the peers I met here came with their friends (and hence spent a lot of time with them exploring instead), I came to Korea on my own (I am the only student on exchange in Yonsei for this particular semester.). You may probably notice this in my future posts, but if it appears so, this is a major reason why I decided to focus a lot of my attention on the local students, rather than the international ones.
Without any real notice, one day the main wide walkway in the campus was filled with booths – this was the equivalent of the clubs expo for Yonsei.
Unfortunately… and this is probably going to be a recurring theme throughout the rest of the blog posts… most of the Korean students don’t seem confident in speaking English… or even try to interact with international students at all.
This language barrier issue has been something I foresaw a long time ago and, having already picked up quite a bit of the Korean language prior to university through exposure to Korean media, I took classes for this period of two years (I really worked on it!) right before coming to Yonsei.
Unfortunately… (again…) my level of Korean, while decent, is nowhere close to the fluency and speed in which the locals talk to each other with. This is very likely going to be a recurring issue as well…
As someone who has this strong desire to integrate into the university community here, and majoring in media… I instinctively tried to look for clubs that were in any way related to media activities.
(pardon me if I forgot some of their names, they were mostly in Korean).
The first club I tried to join was a club that made videos (documentaries, really) about marginalised groups (focusing on specific subjects) within the Korean society, with some added focus on the elderly and young. This really interested me, because I realised that it was not only an awesome chance to put into practice and develop my production skills, but at the same time do some good for the society too.
I was very quickly rejected for not being able to communicate and type in Korean quickly, and also because the club required all new members to commit to the club for at least three semesters.
I’m not too sure why, but this was really odd to me – considering that the maximum length of an exchange is usually two semesters, this time frame requirement simply appeared to be deliberate, effectively blocking out exchange students. When asked why, the student manning the booth simply said that it was club regulations and had to be maintained without giving any other explanation.
Unfortunately… (yet again!) this was to become a recurring theme as I attempted to join several other clubs, as the Yonsei Video Arts Centre (YVAC, the official student club which covers campus wide events and subjects) rejected me quite crisply. This was a huge blow to me…
A major objective of mine coming to Korea was to work in media, with the local students, and be involved in events happening on campus. I had a similar objective back in Auckland, but this club didn’t exist (there aren’t really any huge campus events anyway), but I ended up joining like 9 (yes, nine!!!) student clubs last year and covering their events instead.
To me, this was the biggest (and best) opportunity to fulfil this objective, but it fell apart so easily… more on this next time.
A third club was the photography club Yonyoung Photography Club (연영회), which had a two semester restriction, but still appeared to be ‘half-open’ to me, accepting my application form… what?
Yes, an application form.
Club entry here requires one to fill in a (simple) application form and go for an interview (!) before they deliberate and decide on whether you can join the club. This is pretty different from stuff that goes on in Auckland!
… I didn’t pass the interview.
I was a wreck during the interview because of how nervous I was (three interviewers, three other applicants, and everything was in Korean), and couldn’t express myself properly in Korean (ended up speaking English awkwardly), so… that really didn’t go very well.
The amount of commitment that was asked from these clubs was to be something that led to my inability to do that same crazy thing I did back in Auckland.
I did, however, end up joining three other clubs! (these interviews were so much more chill). The first is called ‘Impact’, the Yonsei table tennis club – no further elaboration required on this!
The second is called ‘Prometheus’, a film club – watching, discussing and even making films together (I belatedly realised the film-making thing only happened during the summer break, which meant I wouldn’t be around by then).
The third is known as ‘The Yonsei Annals’ – *the official English press of Yonsei University*.
This was even harder to enter, combining a more detailed application form, a written test, and an interview, but I made it! I entered the club as a Contents Team Member, and we’re supposed to… make videos.
This is my first post for Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea.
I apologise for this coming really late on in the semester, my laptop had an issue and I couldn’t get it fixed until like almost a whole month later. Yeah… things have been hectic… not great.
The semester period for Yonsei works just like our semester in Auckland, only that there’s no mid-semester break (!), and lasts 16 weeks rather than the 12 we have (yeah, that means 2 weeks of break gone and 2 weeks extra for the semester).
So! Let’s start before I even entered Korea (it was a pretty long process getting here in the first place), so for all of you considering exchange, here is a quick checklist of things you must get out of the way!
This is to ensure that you won’t end up affecting your graduation timing and can find the courses suitable for credit transfer with!
Research on the universities you are interested to do an exchange with
This is important for credit transfer! I came on a late exchange in my final (3rd) year, so it was slightly trickier to get done and still graduate on time!
Make sure you go to the 360 International Office to check on this as early as possible.
I landed in Incheon International Airport on a chilly Saturday morning, when the temperature was still hovering around 0deg Celsius! The winters in Korea go down to -15deg Celsius or more, and this being late winter meant that 0deg was a normal (or even warmer) temperature for the locals to be experiencing.
Not me though!
I flew to Seoul from Singapore, and the average temperature there is like, 28deg Celsius. For the whole year.
And so the journey began!
Not until after I scrambled to grab my layers of warm clothing and getting fascinated with the mist I got from my breath.
Incheon International Airport is located a good 40 minutes to 1 hour away from the city centre in Seoul, with transport options being by taxi, airport limousine, or rail. It’s been voted as one of the best airports in the world for quite a while now, and it’s honestly really modern looking:
My university campus is located in an area known as Sinchon (pronounced as shin-cho-own), well-known for being a popular space for the university youth in Seoul. This is largely attributed to the fact that besides Yonsei, two other universities (Ewha Women’s University and Sogang University) surround this area as well. As a result, Sinchon has become one of the hubs representing youth culture and can be found to be populated with young adults pretty much all day (and all-night even, even up to 4-5am in the morning on Fridays and Saturdays).
Even though I had known for a long time that Korea was the place I wanted to go to for exchange, the proximity of the campus to Sinchon was the main reason why I decided to go with Yonsei! The other two South Korean partner universities affiliated with UoA are Korea University and Seoul National University, and both are located a lot further away from, let’s say, an area where you can find a lot of things to do.
Incidentally, these three universities (Seoul National, Korea, Yonsei) with affiliations to Auckland are actually the top three universities in Korea. This is often referred to as SKY, with S from Seoul, K from Korea, and Y from Yonsei. In Korea, entering a SKY university has immense implications on one’s social status and future career prospects, … let’s just say this influence is a lot more powerful than most of us can possibly imagine. I’ll leave that to you to read up on if you’re curious about it.
As a result, high school education in Korea is typically extremely stressful, with only the very best of the best performing students (top 1%!!!) in the notorious “college entrance exams” (College Scholastic Ability Test) able to make it to the SKY universities. Yes there’s a strong sense of elitism here, but I found it important to let you know about this, because it is such a big concept over here, even if it’s almost unnoticeable to unsuspecting foreigners sometimes. It’s sometimes also hard to imagine that the students belonging to what appears to be a vibrant university culture went through … pretty … challenging days… just a few years prior.
Keeping this in mind, I came to Yonsei with some sort of expectations that the academic load could end up being much higher than what I had been used to before, with the students here also feeling the impacts of those stresses.
I moved into my dormitory, a single room, a place which I will call home for the next four months! It is conveniently located on campus, and is a pretty chill spot, away from the main buildings, and from the main roads. Walking around the campus for the first time, you could literally feel the sheer size of the campus – this was something that you just don’t really feel used to going to the City Campus in UoA all the time.
I can’t wait to see how this place transforms with the change of the seasons.
Hi guys! So, this is my final blog for the semester! I had my last exam a few weeks ago and I am still waiting for my grades. I still have a few weeks ‘til I leave South Korea and I am going to make sure I travel, eat and shop a lot during my remaining time. Since this last blog post should be a wrap up of the few months being here, I will first start with a summary of my highs and lows and then my final thoughts.
Almost every moment of my stay here in South Korea was a high for me. Studying at Yonsei was different but it was great. The food here is cheap and delicious. Travelling was my favourite part though. I made myself busy almost every weekend to travel around South Korea. That way, I did the most travelling I ever did for four months in my entire life. Every Friday night, I would be excited planning for the weekends and considering where to go next. I especially enjoyed going to historical landmarks and I loved listening to the explanations of meanings of monuments, buildings and artefacts. I really developed an interest in Korean culture and history and my understanding of South Korea is now of a whole different level. This was one of my biggest goals when first coming here and I am really proud to say I have achieved it successfully.
SeoDaemun Prison Museum: where Korean liberation activists were imprisoned during the Japanese Colonial Period
I found it really difficult to pick the lows during my stay. But one thing that did really stress me out was studying in Korean! As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I took three papers at Yonsei and out of the three papers, I took one course in Korean and the other two in English. The Korean taught course was a pretty difficult course as it concerned Public Economics. I really struggled learning economic jargons in Korean and understanding the Korean Economy and past and current government policies regarding public economics. This course was obviously the most difficult for me and I spent most of my study time studying for this course. I personally recommend you all to take courses in English unless you are very fluent and confident in the foreign language. Korean is my mother tongue language and I speak fluent Korean so I assumed it would not be different from studying in English. However, learning about Public Economics in Korean was definitely the biggest challenge for me. I did see a huge improvement in my understanding of the Korean Economy and I did develop a higher level of Korean vocabulary. So, I guess all the hard work did pay off after all!
I remember the first day of Yonsei University, when I was late for my first class and had no idea where the lecture room was. At that moment, it really hit me that I was in a completely different environment surrounded by complete strangers. I remember how scared I was then. Nevertheless, as I made friends and as the campus got more familiar, it really felt like home.
Staying in South Korea for the past few months was amazing. It was a big step out of my comfort zone and it really helped me learn so much about not only South Korea but about myself too. Living in a completely different environment really motivates you to see yourself and your life in a different perspective. I hope anybody (and everybody) reading my blog posts are now more motivated to try out this amazing 360 exchange opportunity!
Any Questions? Contact Me!
If you guys have any questions about studying in Yonsei or South Korea, feel free to contact me via my email: email@example.com
I will have lots of tips on how to study at Yonsei and some good ideas on what to do to make the most of your stay in South Korea!
Final Good Bye!
I am actually now heading to Singapore in a few weeks. I have applied for a consecutive one semester exchange programme at Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore. I won’t be writing for the 360 ambassadors blog during my stay in Singapore, but if any of you are coming to Singapore this semester or if any of you have any questions about exchange study at Singapore, then feel free to email me too! Thank you guys so much for reading my blogs and all the best for all the opportunities ahead of you!
One of the biggest reasons I chose to go on exchange was because I wanted to travel. Growing up in New Zealand, I never had a good chance to travel around South Korea – my home country – very much. Since I had four months to stay and study here this time, I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to travel a lot. Hence, throughout the semester, I travelled not only in Seoul but other parts of the country too. This is a list of my personal favourites: a top five pick of places to visit in South Korea!
#5 Herb Island
This place is not the usual recommendation you get from doing a similar google search, but I thought it was essential for us to get access to some green stuff. Although Yonsei is located in central Seoul, my accommodation during my stay was Ilsan, which is part of KyungKi-do. South Korea is a very developed country full of skyscrapers and heaps of people. A few weeks into the semester, I started missing the green clean New Zealand reserves, so I made frequent visits to a nearby reserve (which is very rare to find in Korea – and especially Seoul and KyungKi-do) called Herb Island. As suggested by the name, this reserve is full of herb trees, flowers and farm animals. I heard there are actually quite a few of these so-called herb islands out of Seoul. Some of them require you to pay for the entry ticket at the entrance, some places are free of charge. These reserves offer not only trees and fresh air, but also nice coffee and restaurants where you can enjoy a relaxing brunch! If you miss New Zealand during your stay, I recommend you to visit Herb Island.
Itaewon is located in the very centre of Seoul and is well known for its diversity and youthful energy. I heard that the U.S. army headquarters is located somewhere near here and so there a lot of foreigners around. (Not only those who serve for the military of course!) Itaewon is a hub of multicultural spirit in the relatively uni-cultural South Korea. Even the restaurants and the retail stores portray diversity in that cuisines from all over the world can be tasted and you can get by without speaking a word of Korean 🙂
I made my first visit to GyeongBok-Gung on my first week in South Korea. GyeongBok-Gung is where the old kings and queens used to live so all the buildings are traditionally and beautifully built. It is really odd though, because the GyeongBok-Gung palace is the only traditional building in the area and the whole place is surrounded by skyscrapers and big roads. You can also see a lot of tourists walking around in “Hanbok”- the Korean traditional dress. There are a lot of “Hanbok” rentals around this area that offers Handbok rentals for a cheap price. GyeongBok-Gung is only a five to ten-minute walk to GwangHwamun where the big protest was held a few years back to impeach the ex-president Park. There are usually are lot of events or activities going on in this area. There is almost like a festival theme for every week you come. Last time I went, there was a little temporary telephone booth, which instead of having a telephone, had a memo pad and pens for people to write letters instead of calling their friends and family. This analogue thing is a growing trend in South Korea. Ironically, now that we have technology and convenienve, people are wanting to turn back time to the old days.
#2 Nam-de-moon and Dong-de-moon shopping centre
South Korea is really famous for its shopping culture. It is an absolute must for tourists to visit famous fashion hubs like Myung-Dong, Hong-Dae, Dong-de-moon and more. But if you’re a serious shopper looking for some quality things for a cheap price – I recommend Nam-de-moon and Dong-De-moon. Both places are located in central Seoul – so it is very easy to get there by public transport. The two places are a little different though in that Nam-de-moon is famous for its varied product lines – you can get anything in Nam-de-moon, literally anything. Whereas, Dong-de-moon concentrates more on fashion and accessories. You have to bring cash with you to make good deals, but it is also important to be careful of pickpockets! (South Korea is usually free of pickpockets but Nam-de-moon and Dong-de-moon are obvious targets because everybody carries around cash!) The shops are almost like little booths and things are literally stacked to minimize space.
#1 Jeon-Ra Do
My number one pick would definitely be Jeon-Ra Do. First reason being is this was my very first visit to Jeon-Ra Do (It takes 4 to 5 hours to get to Jeon-Ra do from Seoul). Second reason being is probably because of the food and people! Jeon-Ra Do is very famous for its food! Food is relatively cheap, the portions are bigger and the taste is better! I made a one night two day stay in Jeon-Ra Do, so I had some time to look around some historical landmarks of the place too. I visited Jeon-Dong Catholic church, which is the very first church built in Jeon-Ju City and the Korean traditional buildings (Han-ok) Village. I also visited Gwang-ju public memorial to commemorate those who died during the 5.18 Gwang-ju Uprising.
These are my top five picks for places to visit in South Korea. I still have exams going on at the moment and I have been quite busy with school stuff and study for the last few weeks. So I am planning to make the most of my time after my exams to do more travelling around South Korea.
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!
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 is AMAZING!! The food is cheap, varied and everywhere. I think it is better shown than said.
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