My main purpose of going to Korea was, in fact, exchange studies. I spent my spring semester at Korea University (고려대학교) most of my time j...

Welcome to Korea University!

Friday, November 01, 2013 Catherina F. 0 Comments

My main purpose of going to Korea was, in fact, exchange studies. I spent my spring semester at Korea University (고려대학교) most of my time just being my usual, geeky, self. I'm going to tell you a bit more about the university itself, as well as my studies. Jump in!
Korea University main square. From what I was told - Master's and PhD graduation day
I began setting up my exchange a month after I began my university studies in Sweden - Autumn 2011. After a very hectic month of running around, picking up all the necessary papers and then sitting on pins an needles, I got the letter from Malmo University, saying that I got into my first choice - Korea university. I can't even describe how happy I was! It was the first big thing I've accomplished all by myself, only because of my skills and competence!
After that the next year simply flew by and it was February 2013. I got my visa about two weeks before my departure, and it was then that I realized - this is actually happening!

Before applying for my exchange I did a lot of research and I knew that Korea University is considered one of the 3 best universities in Korea (it's part of SKY - Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University). More than that, I knew just how much time Korean students spend on their entrance exams, and studies in general, so it's unsurprising that I was very nervous about the upcoming semester.

Excerpt from our Welcome day
My first week in Korea was calm, as I arrived 12 days prior to the start of the semester, thus I had time to get to know my surroundings, the transport system and the campus itself. It certainly lessened the stress of the Introduction Day.
The Introduction Day was basically something you get in every university - congratulatory speeches by the dean, international office, a campus tour, introduction to life in Korea. It was certainly very fun, but I don't recall all that much!
The campus tour was the highlight, as we were separated into groups (that would stick for the rest of the semester and during other activities). The tour was more to get to know the people than the actual campus. Loads of fun! 
Dongwon Global Leadership Hall - home of the International Office
Taken during my first visit to the campus. Doesn't it look awesome?

Also on my first visit. Never really got clear on which building this belongs to. My guess - Liberal Arts.

Peace! Embracing Spring colors! In spring the entire campus was filled with these flowers, charming! I'm pretty sure those are azaleas. Absolutely gorgeous!

As I expected, quality of all the courses I took was extremely high - I took Irish Literature, American culture, Social Psychology, Education and Developmental Psychology. The professors were mostly foreigners (I had one Irish, two American and one Korean professor), so they're teaching methods were very familiar to me. I had a few awkward moments when I was the only one out of all the students in the room actually conversing with the professor, but it made the lectures that much more memorable. My fellow classmates, at least the ones I've talked to, were really lovely people. Quiet, as a result of the strong culture of hierarchy, but very inquisitive and fun to talk to! I was quite upset I didn't have a chance to get to know many of them until the end of the term... 
Rest of the administration was just as pleasant to deal with. I had quite a few encounters with the International Office, and every time they were nothing but helpful and welcoming. Whether it was a housing problem or me just being stupid enough to get lost while going to the Immigration office, I was always met with a smile and received assistance.

Campus itself is really impressive. Not only are *most* of the buildings amazingly well equipped and taken care of, there are cafes, shops, study areas all across the campus to assure maximum comfort. Need a caffeine fix? Very likely you have a cafe in the very building you have your lectures at. Quick bite to eat? There's a convenience store in the underground study area, and a handful of Korean/Western food places! Ran out of writing space, need a pen or a highlighter? University book store is in the same study area! So is a bank, a couple of ATMs and again - cafes.
Beautiful azaleas, cheering the students before exams
Another thing that made my stay in Korea very memorable - Korea University's spring festival Ipselenti. It takes place every May after midterms. There were university festivals happening all over, but I've only been able to go to the one at my university. Quite sad, really, but I hope I'll correct that next year.
Ipselenti is a tradition at Korea university, since 36 years ago. It lasts a week and ends with a bang in the form of a concert. 

Famous groups/performers are invited to appear during the concert, and this year we had some truly spectacular names on the list - Huh Gak, A Pink, Gummy, Epik High, Kim Bum Soo, 2NE1.
I didn't take that many pictures, simply because I was too busy losing my voice while singing along. And while many people were exited for 2NE1, I nearly lost my head over Kim Bum Soo and Epik High!
In my opinion, they had the best performances. Incredible energy, talent spilling all over the place. Don't get me wrong, the others were great, especially Gummy and Huh Gak, but Kim Bum Soo STOLE the stage with his performance. From the moment he stepped onto the stage, he was interactive, energetic, and oh so charming!
Not to mention the entire stadium singing along to 보고싶다 (including me). It was one of the first Korean songs I heard back in the day, so I was over the moon to actually see/hear Kim Bum Soo perform it!

Kim *freakin* Bum Soo

Performing 보고싶다
Sadly, I don't have any *decent* pictures of Epik High, too much jumping around. They were amazing, I've been a long-term fan of Epik High and after unfortunate events in Tablo's life I was really glad to see them up and running all around the stage. It was incredibly energetic, crazy and sincere. My arms were sore the next morning due to incessant waving and clapping. Their most recent release - 'Don't Hate Me' - was the song to have everyone screaming their guts out.
2NE1 were the last to appear, and I was...disappointed. I know I might get attacked by an angry mob for saying this, but I wasn't the only one to think so! After Epik High left the stage, 2NE1 just weren't able to fill their shoes. They performed well, sang well, danced well - all good, but, in my eyes, lacked sincere enjoyment of performing and a certain level of...pizzazz. But I digress.

Taking a stroll on a late June's night...
Dumbledore seems to be awake...
 These were my last shots, taken late at night. They capture the spirit of sophistication very well..

After Ipselenti was over it seemed only days passed and finals began, ending my semester at Korea University. I ended with flying results, as I truly enjoyed studying here. And when I realized it'll probably be my last time, at least in a long while, to see the professors and my classmates, I was sad. I wasn't sad when I graduated from high school, but I was damn sad to leave this university! I met really great people and witnessed what a *real* university should be like. Of course, no apple tree is without wormy apples, but I won't get into the not-so-good stuff, simply because they didn't matter. 
There wasn't a day when I wasn't glad I picked Korea University. So thank you, to the wonderful, fun, engaging professors, my quiet yet inquisitive and lovely classmates and all the other students I met!! I made really good friends (you know who you are) both from local and other exchange students, whom I know I'll be in touch with for many years to come!

So here it is, not so briefly, my wonderful experience at Korea university. Ciao for now!