Hey everyone! Sorry I couldn’t update sooner, but I’ve had a lot of trouble getting to the internet and tonight was the first time I had a stable connection. Fear not though! I kept a running MS Word documents to get my thoughts out while I couldn’t post them here. I’ve decided that I’m going to do a few different types of entries: day updates, food posts, and possibly others as the ideas come up. With that said, I’ll post the first few entries right away!
First Days in Seoul
At long last, I’ve finally arrived in Seoul! Unfortunately there won’t be many pictures since my phone died on the plane, but you can expect a LOT of them in the future.
First things first: when you hear people saying that everyone in Korea is in a hurry, believe them. This is the very first lesson Iearned the moment the plane touched down in the airport. I rode in economy, so when exiting the plane we had to wait for business and first class to exit first, but the entire time the people behind me were trying to push forward. As soon as the last person from first class passed in front of me, a woman behind me very irately said “let’s go!” It was a bit… jarring. But! I met up with a few people from the Yonsei summer program when I got to baggage claim and managed to get to Yonsei on the “airport limo” (basically a very nice bus) without much trouble.
First meal and some exploring: Language barrier is such a real thing- no one around here is obligated to know English for you. Thankfully one of the girls I met at the airport is nearly fluent, but once we parted ways things got a bit difficult. Room check in was painless, but food quickly became a problem. A couple girls and I went to the Hollywood Cafe right outside the university and we quickly realized that we know nothing about restaurant etiquette other than no chopsticks straight up in your bowl (it’s a technique only used to give offerings to ancestors). Although the restaurant had a very American name, the couple of employees working did not speak much English and none of us knew Korean. One of the employees did try to speak a bit of English to us, but it was just awkward for everyone. They got us our food fairly easily though… I just didn’t exactly get what I ordered. All of the food I’ve had here has been great (which I’ll be getting into more in the food posts) and fairly cheap. Despite our language struggles and several awkward thank you’s (I don’t know if you’re supposed to thank your waiter every time they bring something out to you like you do in the US or not, but we did and it got us a few strange looks. Granted, that may have been because of our pronunciation) the staff was incredibly nice to us and gave us excellent service.
Campus (Day 2): The next morning wasn’t terribly eventful until orientation. We got to explore campus a bit while we tried to find the auditorium and found some of the buildings our classes will be in, which will be useful when we actually start classes on Tuesday. Until then, it’s all free time.
Orientation and Lunch: Orientation in itself was a bit of an odd experience. I got to meet several new people and saw just how big the YISS program is (apparently there are a lot of people here from Singapore). Thankfully it was only a two hour event instead of the two days it took for us to get through orientation at UF, but no less informative. Some of the presenters were a bit hard to understand, but I learned a lot about what all there is to do around here. Yonsei is extremely close to Sinchon and the subway/taxi/shuttles can take you just about anywhere. None of which is terribly shocking, I know. What did catch me a bit off guard was some of the rules set for the residence halls. Our dorms have restricted co-ed visitation, meaning that guys aren’t allowed on girls’ floors except for during certain hours and aren’t allowed in girls’ rooms at all (and vis a versa). Plus you can be fined or even kicked out for things like singing too loudly, keeping your room too messy, bringing in non-residents after visiting hours, and keeping alcohol in your room even though the drinking age here is 18. Speaking of drinking… people here are very open about drinking culture, even though Yonsei is a dry campus. A couple of the presenters were telling us about good places to go drinking, made drink recommendations, and even told us how to mix certain things “in order to drink more”. It was… a bit strange.
After orientation wrapped up we ate lunch in the cafeteria downstairs and headed over to Sincheon, both of which I’ll talk about a bit later. For now, this post is just one of the many day updates that I’ll be posting every couple days depending on what all we do during that time. Let me know what you guys want to see more of or if you have any recommendations and I will be sure to include them. Until next time~