Start of Semester

September 1st marked the beginning of the fall semester at Seoul National University. I have to admit that I was quite excited to start school as I wanted to meet new friends and learn more about Korean history and culture. I have a very nice schedule in that I have Wednesdays and Fridays off, which means more free time for fun…and study I guess.

The first day of school is always the most hectic. I left my place at around 8am and headed toward the subway station. I didn’t realize how packed the subways would be and had to let 3 trains pass before finally squeezing into one. Luckily for me, many people got off at the next few stations, and I was able to get a seat. After arriving at the subway station near school, I headed toward the free shuttle to school and the queue was INSANE. There were about 100 students waiting patiently for the bus to come. I made it into SNU with about 30 minutes until class started and that was enough time for me to get lost. I didn’t know where my class was as the school was unfamiliar (and big) to me. However, a nice security guard saw my confusion and kindly guided me to the building I needed to go to.

After a stressful morning, the rest of my day went smoothly. I attended three classes, and they all seemed interesting and fun. However, they do involve a lot of reading, so my Wednesdays and Fridays will be busy getting the readings done.

In my Music of the World class, I met a friendly Malaysian international student. She had been at SNU for about 2 years, and so she knew the ways around school and knew a lot about Korea. She was kind enough to accompany me to get my student ID card and invited me to dinner with her friends. I was so grateful for her talking to me and showing me around and she said that she understood the struggle of being a foreigner. She too had been in my position, alone in a new country, and just wanted to help me out as much as she could. I’m happy to say that I made a good friend and hope to make more friends like her as the year progresses.

Tips for KNU Summer School

Now that my summer at Kyungpook National University, I find myself missing Daegu. The people were very hospitable, and the city was beautiful. One month felt like forever, but at the same time, it went by very quickly. I have learned many things from my month in Daegu and would like to share some tips I have with those of you who are interested in KNU!

1) Know how to say 경북대학교북문 (Kyungpook Daehakgyo Pookmoon)
경북대학교북문 means Kyungpook National University North Gate. This is the main meeting point for many KNU students. It is also the most convenient place to be dropped off by taxi if you are coming from the airport or the train station. Most, if not all, taxi drivers know where North Gate is and will take you directly there.

2) Bring travel-sized toiletries and a towel

After a long flight, it feels nice to take a hot (or cold depending on the weather) shower. But, if you don’t pack some shampoo/conditioner/body wash, then that shower won’t feel as refreshing as you had expected. I recommend packing only travel-sized toiletries as you can always buy bigger ones in Daegu, and they won’t weigh down your suitcase. Along with travel-sized toiletries, it is smart to bring a towel, preferably one that you doing mind throwing away at the end of your trip. Many of my classmates went the first few days without towels because they forgot to or decided not to bring towels to save space in their suitcase. While it is possible to find towels in Daegu, most of them are small, and you have to go off-campus to find them.

3) Shop at Daiso first

If you find yourself short on certain goods, the first place to check is Daiso. This is the Korean equivalent of a dollar store, except the quality for certain goods is better. At Daiso, you can find anything. Toiletries, plates, bowls, cups, and even snacks. KNU does provide summer school students with blankets and a pillow, but toilet paper and shower shoes are up to the student to get. I recommend Daiso because it is cheap, and they seem to have everything one would need. If Daiso doesn’t carry what you need, then you can check out later supermarkets like Homeplus or Lotte Mart, which are like Walmart or Target.

4) DO NOT FLUSH TOILET PAPER

It is pretty common in America to flush your toilet paper when you’re done with your business, however, you should not do this in Korea. Many shops and stores will have a sign in the restrooms that says “Do not flush toilet paper as it will clog.” The same is true for the dorms. Although my dorm did not come with a trashcan, I hung a plastic bag on the door handle that acted as a trashcan. As gross as that sounds, it is better than having a clogged toilet that is not usable.

5) Bring medicine and bug spray

I got pretty sick during the last week of the program due to the constant change in temperature; outside was sweltering and inside was freezing due to the air conditioning. Luckily, I had packed a box of cold medicine before I left for Korea. I used up most of the box and now wish I had packed more. There are independently owned pharmacies all over Korea, which makes getting medicine easy. However, it is hard because all the medication is in Korean, and most often you have to explain your symptoms to the pharmacist, which can be difficult if you don’t speak Korean. If you do find yourself in need of medication, it would be best to find a Korean friend to help you or to make use of your KNU buddy.

Mosquitoes here are ridiculous. I have been bitten so many times. They find their way indoors as well, and so to avoid the pain and annoyance of itchy bites, it is best to bring and use bug spray as well as itch cream if a sneaky mosquito happens to get you.

This concludes my tips for KNU (and living in Korea in general). I narrowed down these tips from a longer list I had, and so I will probably make a second tips post. Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps out those who are interested in KNU and Korea!