Hello peeps! I’m Gladys from NUS Business and I’m currently an exchange student of Korea University. This is my first post and honestly, I have absolutely no idea what to talk about so… I’ll just talk about Korea and Korea University in general. If you have other specific questions about the country or the university, do not hesitate to contact me :>
Okie dokie, let’s talk about Korean culture. From a Singaporean’s point of view, the Korean culture is extremely hierarchical and at times, scary. Whenever Koreans first meet one another, they have to reveal their age. Once that’s established, you as a passerby would know immediately who’s younger. Haha… Well that’s because the younger ones have to speak formally and most of the times, they’ll have to listen to the people older than them. But don’t be afraid, Koreans do not expect you to use formal language when you’re conversing with them because they know for a fact that you’re a foreigner. So, no need to worry about that. It’s just super interesting to witness all of these here because nobody really cares about that in Singapore.
Despite the hierarchical culture, can I just say that KOREANS ARE EXTREMELY NICE. I absolutely love them to the very core. They are very polite and most of them who can speak english are very welcoming. I’ve heard from my Korean friend that usually, Koreans would tend to stay away from foreigners because they’re afraid to converse in English… which is true because I have experienced that a couple of times. <But here’s a really good mentality that you should adopt: IF you’re in Korea, you should not expect for the Koreans to KNOW your language. This applies for every country you visit. It’s like how a Russian (for example) visits Singapore and talks to you in Russian. Then walking away and dissing you for not knowing Russian. It just doesn’t make sense.> So yeah, you will love the people here, especially so if you can converse with them.
DA BEST TOPIC OF ALL~~~ Okay, in general, Korean food revolves around spice, meat, onions, and garlic. If you can’t take spicy food, it MIGHT be a little hard for you to get by. For me, I can’t eat pork so that’s another issue as well because even though it is relatively easy to find beef alternatives, most of the time they mix beef AND pork in the meal. But it’s not that hard because chicken and seafood are everywhere… If you can’t eat onions and / or garlic, then that will be EXTREMELY hard for you because that is kind of the base of every food they cook here. Maybe cold noodles, and pre-packed snacks would do the job but you’ll have to hunt a little harder than the rest for garlic-free and onion-free food. (I know this because my room mate’s a vegetarian who can’t eat garlic and onion. She spends most of her time cooking from home)Oh, if you’re going to be here for long and you know for a fact that you WILL miss Singapore’s food, fret not… You can find them here. BUT, for quite a huge price. The other day I went to Hongdae with my friends and we chanced upon a Singaporean cafe (obviously owned by a Singaporean). They serve milo, (YES, OH MY GOD YOU CAN’T FIND MILO HERE. EVER) kaya toast, kopi-o, tangyuan and stuff. My friends and I ordered Milo Dinosaur… Guess how much it costs? 6,800won. Yep, that’s like SGD8. Hahahahahahaha… To our dismay, it wasn’t even 100% milo. It was iced chocolate with milo powder on top 🙁 We asked the owners why the drink didn’t taste like milo and they explained that Koreans didn’t really like the taste of milo so they had to adapt it instead. Because we went in February (Chinese New Year period in SG), the owners were kind enough to serve us pineapple tarts!!! So everyone please, give this cafe and their korean-modified singaporean treats a chance once you’re here 🙂 It will at least make you feel at home.
[Merlion Cafe @ Hongdae: https://www.facebook.com/pages/%ED%99%8D%EB%8C%80-Merlion/552302831575130]Oh, I almost forgot.. You can find Rotiboy here!! YAAAS, ROTIBOY and they cost 2,500KRW per bun on average~ (SGD3)
Okay first things first (I’m a realist.), KOREA UNIVERSITY IS REALLY PRETTY. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I first saw it. Fun fact; it is actually listed as one of the places you should visit when you’re in Korea. It’s too beautiful to miss out 🙂 Haha, okay apart from that, school’s awesome. Really. Definitely not as stressful as Singapore Universities. I’m a business student so I’m currently taking business mods in KU. A good thing is that most people in Korea University Business School can speak English, so if you’re lost somewhere, just approach them 🙂 They’ll be happy to help you. What I really love about Korea University, is how the students REALLY love the school. You can find KU merchandises everywhere and there are many fun festivals for you to participate in. Recently, I went for 입실렌티 (IPSELENTI), an annual school festival of KU’s. No doubt, it was the HIGHLIGHT of my entire exchange. It’s something you can never experience in Singapore’s universities… Oh, and you will be exponentially happy if you’re a KPOP fan because they invited many singers and bands over to perform. I definitely had a blast and if you’re coming over next semester, you HAVE to go for KoYon games. Ipselenti is a smaller-scale festival compared to KoYon festival. KoYon represents (Korea University and Yonsei University). Their rivalry is intense but, they really embrace it. It’s really funny because if you try talking about “KoYon” to some Koreans, they might not know it because they might register the festival as “YonKo” instead. Hahaha, yes, the order REALLY matters. I naturally used “KoYon” since I’m a Korea University student ;> Okay but bottomline is, GO FOR THEIR FESTIVALS. YOU WON’T REGRET IT. TRUST ME. IT’S GOOD. CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO DIE.
- CCAs / Clubs:
I joined KUDT (Korea University Dance Team) here and to be honest, it will only get better once you start making friends. First and foremost, if you’re like a super good dancer looking to improve your dance techniques in Korea, this club is not for you. Unless of course, you’re open to trying new genres then hell yeah, go ahead! KUDT accepts many beginners with no dance experiences so they emphasise a lot on basics for their dance trainings. Also, unlike in Singapore, they don’t have a dance instructor. The seniors will be the ones conducting the trainings. So take it with a pinch of salt, if you’re really looking to advance your dance progress, I recommend you to spend your money on open classes. That would be better.Okay remember what I said about Korea’s hierarchical culture? Yep, you’ll get to experience every single bit of it here. Haha. Even though you’re older than the seniors (most of them are 1995 – 1997), you have to greet them because they’re your sunbaes (선배들). Practices are held every Tuesdays and Thursdays. And after practice every Thursday, there will be an afterparty. It’s basically a gathering for you to meet new people, drink, and munch on food. Joining KUDT was quite an investment.. I had to pay 30,000KRW (SGD35) for club fees and 10,000KRW (SGD12) every week for the after party. That aside, it’s really fun once you get to interact with people and some 선배 would come join your table to play drinking games. The drinking games here are super awesome so please don’t miss out on that. I would say I definitely enjoyed myself in KUDT despite the hefty investment but fret not, I’m pretty sure this huge investment is only required for a few but not all of the clubs. My advice to you, is to join a club. It’s a whole new form of experience for you to taste 🙂
Okay that’s about it? I remember saying I have no idea what to type and I can’t believe I wrote this much. Hope this helps anyway! Feel free to get in touch with me if you need to know more! But for now, 안녕! :>