1 Month at SCHU: September 30, 2019
It’s been officially one month in Korea. When I first arrived we didn’t get to Global Village (dorms for exchange students) until close to 9PM as we were the last group to be picked up from the airport for the day. Even though it was pretty late, I met my first suite-mate and we unpacked before walking to the store together to grab some things we didn’t bring with us, such as shampoo. We climbed back up the hill to the dorms and got ready for bed. One huge tip I would suggest to bring with you if you plan on studying at SCHU is to bring at least one roll of toilet paper with you. Returning exchange students from the previous semester told us to do it because most likely your suite will not have toilet paper when you arrive.
The first week it was hard adjusting to the cultural differences, food, and environment. I struggled with jet-lag for a bit. I would wake up around 3AM to 5AM (around 1PM Minnesota time) the first few days and head to bed between 5PM-7PM (around 3AM Minnesota time). The first week is all about settling in and attending orientation to set up your Korean bank, obtaining health insurance, learning about how to adjust, and applying for your alien registration card. All the important stuff you’ll need to have and know while you’re staying here.
Once classes started it wasn’t that long before Chuseok Holiday Break (Korean Thanksgiving). We had a four-day break so many of us exchange students traveled to Seoul during that time, which is about almost two hours to Seoul. We took the subway all the way there which took a few hours because we also got lost. One thing you will see in the subway stations is all the birthday celebration ads for Korean idols. I managed to see one of Jungkook from BTS as it was his birthday not too long ago. The fastest way to get to Seoul though would be to take the KTX train which costs roughly around 14,000 won ($11 USD) and this gets you to Seoul in thirty minutes. I’d suggest to buy the train tickets ahead online otherwise they tend to be sold out, especially during the big holiday. I spent two nights in Seoul with two other exchange students in an airbnb. We visited Hongdae and Myeongdong, which are two famous shopping places in Seoul with a very awesome nightlife. We visited the LINE store too. My favorite part is watching the busking (street performances) in Hongdae.
The week after break, we began our language exchanges. I had seven during that first week, but some people do end up dropping the exchanges, so now I have six to meet weekly. They are all very nice and we both are learning about each other’s cultures and home. They asked what Minnesota is known for and I told them we have the Mall of America and ten-thousand lakes. I also asked them for advice on what I should try in Korea. They offered to help me with visiting places and that I can text them anytime if I wanted help with something during my time here. During the language exchanges you can choose to sit and talk in the lounge for the hour you guys have together or walk down the hill to get breakfast/lunch/dinner or a drink together. I’ve been down the hill with some of my exchanges already and we went to Cafe Family. I’d recommend to try this place at least once if you come here. They have really good drinks.
As for classes, the teachers are funny and will try their best to help you. All language classes are taught in Korean, but they do speak some English here and there to help us exchange students understand better. You don’t need the textbook during the first week like you would in some classes in America. The teachers will let you know on the first day what you need and the textbooks are available in the bookstore. I was surprised to see one of my textbooks cost roughly $20 USD.
To get to the building where most of your classes may be held, you have to walk up and down stairs. Soonchunhyang University is located on a hill and is more of the countryside, so anywhere you go there are stairs or a hill, although you climb more stairs back up to Global Village than down since its located near the highest part of campus. I have some photos of the main set of stairs that a lot of students take to and from classes. I’d say it’s a great way to exercise every day. The view is also very beautiful since you can’t see this in the city.
One thing I noticed when I first arrived is that I was very dehydrated. No matter how much water I drank I still felt the need to drink more. It could be because of the physical changes and how different the weather is. Over here it’s much more humid. We arrived during the change in weather from hot and humid to cool mornings/nights so it wasn’t as bad. I decided to pack more Fall and Winter clothes for my time here since I’m here for Fall semester only, but the weather won’t get colder till end of October or some time in November. The whole month of September the weather was nice. Some rainy days but not as many. We did get a typhoon warning the second week here, but the majority of us stayed inside and played board games together and others enjoyed it because they barely get rain from where they come from. What I realized also is that since we come from different parts of the world, we treat the weather differently. I may be walking outside in the mornings to class in a simple t-shirt in sixty degrees Fahrenheit weather, but other people will be wearing hoodies or sweaters. Around this time where the temperature is different throughout the day (cool in the morning, hot by lunchtime, back to cool in the evening) some students get sick too.
Overall, I’m enjoying my time here meeting new people and discovering new things. I talk to my family back home daily and they say I’ve changed so much already. I feel like I’m the same person though. I can’t wait to explore other parts of Korea. I already have one Korean friend who said she would love to visit me back in Minnesota some time next year and get to know how different America is from Korea.
Last modified: September 30, 2019