봄봄봄이 왔네요~ (Spring, spring, spring is here~)
봄봄봄 (Spring, spring, spring) by Roy Kim is one of two very popular songs in Korea during this time of year. It is a fun and light hearted song that describes the beginning of spring and remember meeting someone for the first time.
This song is very fitting for the spring season because it invokes a happiness and excitement that was masked by the cold winter. In the music video, there are scenes of cherry blossoms, which are everywhere in Korea, There are designated places, such as the Han River and Jamsil Lake, where couples, families, and just about everyone goes to take pictures. Because the cherry blossoms only last for about two weeks or so, these areas are always busy and packed with people. It is nice seeing everyone dressed up getting ready to take pictures and enjoying the nice change in temperature and scenery.
Even from SNU, there are plenty of cherry blossom trees planted and they give the campus a beautiful lively feel. It definitely makes walking to class more bearable. The spring has made me fall in love with Korea even more and it’s going to be so hard to say goodbye.
It is now the beginning of May. Back home, OU students are getting ready to take their finals and preparing for their summer vacations. But here in South Korea, I have just finished taking my midterms and doing projects. Although I am jealous of the OU students, I also remembered when winter break came around and I had two and a half months to sit around and do nothing.
With about 7 weeks left of school, it feels unreal that I will soon be leaving Korea permanently. I always knew that time flew, but everything seems to go by faster here. And so, I have decided to use my time wisely. I have plans to go not only to unexplored parts of Seoul, but all over the country. I will start my journey with a trip to Daegu to see Sara, and then together, she and I are heading to Yeosu, a city off the southern coast. We are both excited about going because we’ve heard great things about Yeosu. I’m excited to see the beach and have a break from the busy life of Seoul.
I’m looking forward to see Sara as well as see more parts of South Korea. After this trip, I wonder where I will go.
Before coming to Korea, I thought I would never get tired of being in a new country and being able to explore my surroundings. However, I found myself missing home a lot more than I thought I would. So, during winter break (which I have to add is two and a half months long here in Korea) I decided it would be best to go back to the States. Although I knew I could have spent that time traveling or meeting new people, I felt that it would be good for me to have a break from the loneliness of living abroad.
The one thing I missed more than my family was my mom’s cooking. Growing up with a mother who cooked not only every day but also amazingly tasty food has definitely spoiled me. During break, I ate my weight’s worth of Vietnamese food, and it felt great!
I also decided to go back to work as I knew I would be bored without anything to do. If you know me, you know that I always complained about work. The long hours were rough, but dealing with hungry people is even worse. However, this time around, I found myself really enjoying work. A semester aboard made me miss not only my family but the people I work with. And so, I made an effort to engage with the other employees. We would joke around and laugh at even the smallest things. I found myself building stronger friendships in those two months than in the three years that I had been working there. I was a little sad when I had to say goodbye to them.
At the end of February, I packed up my things again for Korea. This time I brought less clothes and more food. I realized that I missed American food too, and so I packed myself a big jar of peanut butter and oatmeal, both of which are expensive and hard to find in Korea. (However as I’m writing this, my oatmeal stash has run low which means I must hunt for more soon.)
This semester, I am staying in the school dorms. It is a lot cheaper than the previous place I lived at but it is also more lonely. I have Korean roommates, but they are so busy with their lives and plans that I rarely see them. Also, I think the language difference makes them scared to talk to me, and so we only exchange greetings and then go about our lives. However, this semester I have made more international friends than I did last semester. I’ve met some very same-minded people who are in Korea to learn about the culture and experience the unique Korean lifestyle. I am excited to hang out with them and do some crazy things! Although last semester, I enjoyed my time in Korea, I hope this semester brings me some more new and unforgettable experiences!
In the few months that I’ve been in Korea, and more specifically at Seoul National University, I’ve definitely noticed differences between SNU and OU.
- Built right next to a mountain, SNU is extremely hilly and secluded from the main attractions of Seoul. Walking around SNU these past few months have definitely made my calves toner haha.
2. Everyone dresses well. At OU, it is socially acceptable to show up to class with sweats or shorts and t-shirt, but if you were to do that at SNU, you would stand out like a sore thumb. Students put much effort into their looks, often doing a full face of makeup, beautiful hairstyles, and, of course, dressing in nice clothing.
3. Letterman jackets EVERYWHERE. Most, if not all, students have a letterman jacket that says SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY and their major and/or affiliated clubs on it. I didn’t notice them as much until the weather dropped. They wear it as a sign of pride as SNU is one of the hardest schools to get into.
4. Protest. Koreans are not afraid to speak their mind when it comes to issues they are passionate about. I was told that during the summer a group of students started protesting the building of a new campus. As my Korean is not that best, I didn’t know their reasons. But, I’ve seen their posters everywhere on campus. They even set up a tent outside the administrative building and sit, sleep, and eat in there to protest.
5. Perhaps the most shocking difference, to me at least, is the fact that students are allowed to smoke and drink on campus. I think I took advantage of OU’s dry campus policy as it is burdensome to walk around campus and breathe in cigarette smoke.
These are the five things that I find the most different between OU and SNU.
I’m so bad at ending my blog posts…
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.