Författararkiv: sepbas13

Field trip to Gwanghwamun square & Gwangjang market

Last Saturday it was time for our buddy group’s first field trip and what seemed to start like any other ”normal” field trip, later ended in for some people, terror.

Gwanghwamun square is an historical symbolic square where the statue of King Sejong is the main focus, however, as much as I love to learn about history, the thing that caught my attention most that day was the food we got to try once we reached Gwanjang market.

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Having sacrificed my breakfast for 10 more minutes in front of the mirror I was quite ready for lunch once we reached Gwangjang market, a traditional food market with all kinds of foods. We split up into smaller groups and took off to find a place to eat in the crowded area, and when we finally made it to the first restaurant, we had some Sundae (순대), and no, not the ice cream kind but something very different. It is actually Korean blood sausage and I will leave it at that.

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I’m pretty sure our Korean buddies were having fun watching a bunch of foreigners react to eating all of this unfamiliar food as they munched on the same happily because after that we were taken to the second round of food, and this is where some people did not manage to hold back their horror.

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Sannakji (산낙지) & Yukhoe (육회) as are seen in the pictures above are raw octupus and meat served fresh with one sauce each and enjoyed after being dipped in the sauces. The octopus was so fresh it was still moving on the plate, a very interesting experience. Although the taste was not spectacular, it did not actually taste much more than saltwater, the experience of eating something so fresh was thrilling. I’m glad there were no vegetarians present in our group, or I would have felt very uncomfortable.

IMG_2100That was all for this time! Thank you for reading and I will see you soon.

 

Korean cheering

After two weeks packed with classes, activities with the student organisation and adventures with friends I can finally take some time to write. Truthfully there hasn’t been a day when I have spent more than 3 awake hours at home since the university started which is a big change from my life back in Sweden which would probably be the opposite. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have a student organisation named KUBA taking care of all foreign exchange and visiting students and they arrange official activities at least once a week and often smaller events such as dinners a few times a week. This is something that I first thought was special for Korea but after talking to exchange students in other universities in Seoul I was shocked to hear that they did not have anything like that they have not had possibilities to actually get to know their fellow exchange students as personally that we have gotten the chance to do. I think that Korea University is very unique in that aspect and I am very thankful that I am able to meet people from all over the world, having fun together without having to put an effort.

2015-09-04 16.50.01 Last week we attended a cheering orientation in preparation for the “Koyon Games” which is a an annual series of friendship matches between the two of the most popular universities in Seoul, Korea University and Yonsei University. The games include matches in baseball, ice hockey, football, rugby and basketball. Last Friday, we gathered in one of the university’s halls to practice the cheering songs for the games and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. What surprised me most was how all the Korean students knew the songs and cheers by heart and their energy seemed to be everlasting as they did anything they could to encourage us to dance.

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We danced, sang, cheered, yelled and almost broke our necks while head-banging to the cheers and by the end of the 2 hour long event everyone’s clothes were drenched in sweat, very charming and a sign of a good ”cheering session”. We ended the evening with some incredibly spicy food as always in Korea, that I have yet to get used to.

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Sadly I was too immersed in the songs to remember to snap good pictures during the actual cheering orientation, but instead you can check out my favorite cheering songs below which are from Korea University’s official cheering channel!

쉬잇~! Shush~!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6xVTGgyiPM

꿇어라 연세여 Kneel down Yonsei: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JTlhAYvtQA

영원하라 Last forever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2Hope8BZbI

Orientation days at Korea University

Since I arrived quite early in Seoul I had been able to visit the campus and taken a look around more than once but even so, when the first day of orientation came my heart was beating fast and my mouth started to become dry as I walked towards the area circled out on the digital map on my phone. All were signs of anxiety and excitement, a terrible mix which together with the hot weather made me sweat and feel cold at the same time.

(Picture: Main Gate of Korea University)

Something I really was thankful for however was that Korea University has a buddy program for exchange and visiting students, which means that I had already been contacted by a Korean girl named Choi Go-Eun who made sure that I knew all the necessary times and dates for the orientation as well as asking me if I needed any other help. Even if I did not need much more help than to know exactly how to get to the building, it was a comfort to know that I had someone who was familiar with the city, school and language that could help out if I ever needed anything.

(Picture: Campus Tour, Main Hall)

After the formal introductions had been made, the groups were put in the hand of the Korean buddies who then took us on a Campus tour, helped us with email registration, as well as took us to lunch in one of the University’s cafeterias.

(Picture: Meat with Korean side dishes, banchan; Sigeumchi-Naul, Kimchi & Kkakdugi)

The second day of orientation was very peculiar. The first thing we needed to do was to sign up for a Student ID card which would also be used as a bank card. We received a big  pile of papers which needed to be signed, all written in Korean. ”Sign here, date here, name here” was probably the line I heard the most that day and in the end I wasn’t even sure if I had just signed up for a Student ID card or for something completely different, oh well, we can only hope for the best.

Getting lost is an adventure.

I’ve found out two things since I’ve come here. Getting lost is scary, that I learnt when I was trying to find my Goshiwon. I had the address but no matter how hard I tried to find it, it seemed impossible. It wasn’t much the being lost that made me uncomfortable, but mostly I felt anxious and embarrassed that I could not find it. It was fine though, I did not give up and finally I managed to find it. The second thing I’ve found out is that getting lost is a whole other thing if you aren’t alone. As long as you have someone with you, being lost together is almost more fun than going on your planned route.

It’s my third day in Seoul I’ve already been walking more than I ever have in a month back in Sweden (that probably says a lot about me but let’s not judge here okay?). The first day was spent mostly in my neighbourhood where I walked around the streets after unpacking. I tried my best to just understand that I was actually here. Everyone speaking in the language I’ve been trying so hard to learn, loud music playing from every shop I pass and almost combining into one loud noise, but it was fine, it’s Seoul, I’m here.

I took the opportunity to walk to Korea University where I will be spending most my days at this semester and I was stunned. It was even more beautiful than I had imagined when I had seen the pictures before coming.

Impatient and wanting to explore the city further I made an attempt to meet some exchange students from the university by making a post in the facebook group I’m a part of. A sweet girl from Holland named Geke replied and we decided to meet up at Anguk Station as she suggested that we should go to Bukchon Hanok village, turns out it was the greatest idea, you will see why shortly.

Bukchon Hanok village is a village with traditional houses, so called ”Hanoks” that are today used as either tea houses, guest houses, culture centres and more. We received a map at the tourist information center where the helpful lady circled the main attractions and explained the route so that we could easily find our way to the beautiful sights.

After this point, we started to go off route and before we could notice it we had gone off the map, moving further up the hilly district. I think we walked for about three hours if not more. the feeling of not knowing exactly where we were, just looking around and enjoying the views we had was great, although I don’t think it would have been as nice had I been alone, but having someone by my side, it was more of an adventure with excitement rather than feeling the fear of being lost.

That’s all for this time, I’m still getting adjusted to everything here and I think it will take a while until I stop finding everything here fascinating, so I will most likely bring more serious posts then, but bear with me for now while I’m in this state please. Until next time!

Last minute packing.

Packing has always been something I have struggled with, either I pack too much or not enough, that is also why I tend to put it off until the very last minute when I’m contemplating whether or not I should pack the fourth pair of jeans, and in the end I usually get so frustrated that I just unpack everything and start over since I apparently have packed way too much and even the weight of my and my sister’s body is not enough to zip my poor luggage.

Four months is not very long, it isn’t really, but if you are, like me, leaving your comfort zone for the first time, to explore a country you have only seen in your favorite tv-shows then it feels like a lifetime and you will most likely be scared, excited and stressed, with a hint of guilt when you see your parents’ forced smiles whenever you mention something about your destination. It’s all going to be worth it though, right? My heart is trembling but I can tell that it’s the good kind and not the bad, it will be good.

Finally packed and the clock tells me that the time is 11:30 pm, perhaps some sleep would to be advised before a 12 hour long journey, all the way from Gothenburg to the city of Seoul.

Before I stop my first entry on this blog about my experience in South Korea as an exchange student I thought I would write a short list of things to think about before you leave. Most of these tips have been given to me by friends or different sites including our own university’s site which has lots of useful information for those of you who are planning to study abroad for a semester or longer. I apologise for the lack of photos in this post and I promise I will be better once I have landed in Korea. Thank you for reading this far and I hope you will be following me on my adventure.

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 Make sure you know the rules of how to apply for a visa for the country you will be going to. The rules are often different for each country and it’s always a good idea to start early rather than to be sorry later. You wouldn’t want to have to reschedule a flight just because you won’t get your visa in time. (Of course that did not nearly happen to me, I’m very organized.)

2. This one is quite obvious but it’s worth mentioning since I know some people who have actually done this mistake. Check that your passport is valid during the time of your stay as well as the extra time required by the country.

3. Find alternative ways of communication with friends and family. Apart from getting a SIM Card, having another way of communicating is always good since it is pricy to call internationally and these days it’s easy to text and call for free with certain apps installed on your phone using WiFi. For example, my sister made a group chat for me and the rest of my family on a mobile app so I wouldn’t have to repeat the same thing over and over, kind of put me out of the stress of having to text five different numbers saying simple words like ”I am fine, you may relax now.”

4. Find an accommodation. Korea University which I will be studying at for this fall semester has its own dorms which you can apply for through their site, but since the rooms are limited you also have the options to live off campus. In Korea the most common option besides living in dorms is to live in so called ”Goshiwons”, small rooms in a dorm-like building, with or without private baths. I will write more about Goshiwons in another post since that is the type of accommodation I have chosen.

5. As much as technology can have amazing functions and navigation which we rely on very much, sometimes they run out of charge and that’s when paper and a pen is your best friend. Keep a notebook with all your important numbers, addresses, names and make small notes and instructions to yourself so that you can easily manage even without a smartphone.

6. Don’t forget to wear a smile on your lips and an open mind to be filled with new exciting things. Remember that what you find normal might not be so normal there and that that is fine too. Different does not mean wrong.

You can find more information and important links concerning exchange studies at Halmstad University here.