Korea? – More than just Samsung and Gangnam Style

Michael P.

University: 
Study Period: 
Spring 2013
Academic Level: 
Master
   

In August, a month before the start of the semester (September), I flew to South Korea, so that I could get familiar with that completely different culture. For the flight route I chose a stopover in Dubai (3 days) to also get an insight into the modern Arab world. Another advantage was that the flight via Dubai was much cheaper than other carriers on direct flights.

University

The Chung-Ang University has two campuses, one main campus in downtown Seoul and the other outside of Seoul. The main campus has much to offer: a sports court, a chapel, a library, several cafeterias, a medical clinic, a post office, several shops, a bank, a McDonald's and several restaurants. The campus is like its own little city. Since everything is available, you do not have to leave the campus. In addition to a medical clinic on campus, which is free for students of the University, there is a university hospital a few minutes’ walk from the main entrance of the university. 

Contact with fellow students and leisure activities

708 Foto 2If you, like me, live in the dorm, you automatically get in contact with fellow students from many countries. The recreational activities are quite diverse (e.g. in the dorm there is a fitness center). In Seoul, there are cinemas, theaters, museums, amusement parks and many cultural sites. In the evening you go to the student areas with its pubs and night clubs or in the foreign district with the clubs and cocktail bars.

Drinking culture

In Korean culture, it is normal having a drink with your professor in a pub or bar. For me, it was quite strange as my professor asked me if we go out for a drink. The students who are available that night go along with the professor to the bar and have some very cheerful rounds and it is also quite common that the professor is then very drunk. In the next lecture no single word is spoken about that night. Everything that has happened in the bar stays in the bar, like the evening actually never happened.

Food culture

In Korea it is much more common to eat in restaurants than in Germany. The reason is that you cannot meet friends in your own home, as the home is either too small or too far away.710 Foto 4 If you then want to meet your friends, you do this in a cafe or restaurant in down town or in a particular district. The Korean food is seasoned very spicy for our Western taste. It takes a while before you get used to it. Nevertheless it tastes great and is worth trying.

Conclusion

It is difficult to grasp the great experiences in words. It shapes a person, when you are in an Asian country with all its customs and peculiarities. The life experience gained goes beyond the scope of this report. The respect and courtesy, the way people interact with each other in Korea, the willingness to help strangers, all this impressed me a lot. With South Korea I have made, for me personally, the best choice. All I had imagined applies fully and has exceeded all my expectations.