Where do I even start?
Both my roommate and were awake at 6 am, probably because of jetlag. We decided to unpack which took us each about an hour and we’ve discovered that the ridiculously small closets actually do fit all our clothes, for the most part. Maybe we just don’t have a lot. She had one big suitcase, and I had one big and one carryon. Though I also had gifts for family friends and such in mine. I remember seeing some people with two large suitecases and a carryon. Where they are going to put everything… I have no idea.
Anyway, orientation started at 9 am and it was pretty straightforward. There was an introduction by the CIEE staff and got to eat a choco pie. We got to talk about the first couple days of orientation and learn about the cultural reimbursement program (which I’m totally going to take advantage of) and so much more. Then we got to eat lunch with everybody and headed over to a different hall for a larger international student orientation. That one was pretty fun and we got to see some performances. Namely a dance group named Fever danced to a bunch of K-pop songs.
After orientation we got to sign up for some events that Yonsei puts on for international students in a program called Yonsei Global so Paige, Anne and I signed up for the Seoul Night Tour! It cost ₩10,000 (roughly $10 USD). It doesn’t seem like a lot, but I feel like small costs like this are going to rack up so we are going to get it reimbursed through our program. 🙂
We were technically done for the day but I signed up for a Yonsei mentor buddy program thinking that it was part of the CIEE Seoulmates program (they are similar buddy programs, but one is through the school itself and one is through my study abroad program). That night’s event was actually super fun. We had a cheering orientation and then got to go out to dinner and head to a club.
Cheering orientation is definitely not what it seems like. There is a lot of Yonsei pride on campus and a festival called Akaraka in May where there’s a lot of competition between Yonsei University and Korea University (GO YONSEI). Its a fight between blue (Yonsei U) and red (Korea U). Since there’s so much competition, cheering gets taken to the next level too so there are specific movements to specific songs and theres even a cheer squad that leads all the movements. It was super fun learning (there are so many) and even more entertaining watching both the actual squad and also the Yonei mentors who already knew all of them by heart and were dancing along at the bottom of the stage.
After cheering orientation, we travelled to restaurants in groups, and the one we went to, we had booked the entire restaurant so that was super entertaining. Since the legal drinking age is 19 in Korea there was beer and soju on every table and it was fun listening to everyone shout “Gang!” as they clicked glasses. Then it was a night at the club. Drinking isn’t really my thing, but watching friends was super entertaining. I did drink a little (for the frst time I took more than a sip!) since I need to learn how since the drinking culture is a) so prominent here in Korea), and b) if I am ever offered by someone older than me, it is considered rude to turn down. So I figured learning how to take one shot would be good enough. I still firmly believe that alcohol tastes disgusting though.
Day 2 of orientation was just as fun, at least in the evening. In the morning we stopped by Severence Hospital (which is on campus) and had a medical briefing before grabbing lunch in Sinchon (the district of Seoul across the street) and going to a Spirit and Culture workshop. We got to hear more about Korean history and eat some Korean snacks before waring some tradition hanboks for a group picture! I still think it’s super amazing that Korea went from an aid receiver to an aid donor and just how much the citizens of Korea are united. I mean, in the hardest of times, Koreans took gold from their homes – necklaces, wedding rings, soldier badges, etc – to help pay of Korea’s debt because they didn’t feel like it was right for them to be wealthy if the country was poor. We got to hear more about astrology and philosophy, and it’s part in Korean history as well as about King Sejong and the creation of hangul (the Korean alphabet).
That night was the Seoul Night Tour we signed up for the day before and that was absolutely incredible. We grabbed a traditional bibimbap dinner at the base of Namsam mountain before heading up. The Yonsei mentor guides realized that it would be an hour wait if we wanted to take the cable car up, so we all walked up the mountain instead. It was a pretty intense climb and I still can’t believe it when they told us that most Koreans choose to walk up instead of ride the cable car. It doesn’t really matter because it was totally worth it. The sights along the way up were totally breathless and when we hit the top there ws the Locks of Love and a beautiful resting pagoda.
Inside N Seoul Tower (commonly referred to as Namsam Tower) there were 2 trick art museums and that was super fun, getting to be part of the artwork and everything. Honestly, I have no words. I’m just super glad that I got to go, and everyting was so beautiful and fun. We did end up riding the cable car down though, and for that I was rather grateful…
Day 3… was phones, banking and chest x-rays.
Even though I had a global plan, having a local number in Korea is super useful because it means that you can connect to the wifi a lot more. Most of the wifi that exists in Korea needs a local SIM card so that was nice. It is way faster too and drains battery less. There’s a phone office in SK Global dorm and CIEE had deal with them or something, but we could pick between plans. I ended up getting a ₩90,000 (about $90 USD) plan. It seems like a lot but it’s a one time payment for the entire semester. They charge your card, and then every month, you go in and ask them to charge 1 GB of data for you. International calling is 62 won/min or $0.06/min which is super nice. Since everyone here uses Kakao, texting and talking locally through the phone isn’t done too much, so I think it’s more expensive than those international calls. How that works, I have no idea.
Getting a bank account is free and you can create one without any money it is, so I said why not. I’d rather carry around a card than large amounts of cash. Woori bank is also on campus and absolutely everywhere so that made things convenient.
So at the SK Global House, residents either need to have a negative TB test result within 2 months of their entrance to the dorm (according to their booklet) or need to get a chest x-ray at a nearby clinic. So CIEE had arranged a time for the staff to take the students out for a chest x-ray. Lucky for me, I had read a blog on just this issue back in December and so I got a TB test done in January. There’s one trip I didn’t need to make. 🙂
After the chest x-rays, we had a scavenger hunt around Seoul. Everyone received a T-money card (or a transportation card) that can be charged with money for going on the extensive subway and bus system Traveling around Seoul was super fun, we got to see parts of Insadong, the Admiral, Gwanghwamun, etc.
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Day 1 Photos!