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Exploring South Korea

Living in a new place away from home is not easy, especially if you’re living in a different country. As the new semester starts, I’m here in Seoul, South Korea, on the UTS Global Exchange program.

On the first day, I arrived at Incheon Airport at 6am and, boy, it was freezing! The temperature was -3 degrees! It was opposite from the summer weather back at home. After being lost in the huge airport for quite sometime I found my way to the bus to get me to the hostel I booked since I arrived 2 weeks before the school semester starts. There’s actually the subway train system, which is much quicker than the bus and much cheaper as well. I’d recommend getting the train rather than the bus.

I booked my tickets 2 weeks before the semester at Yonsei University starts because I waned to explore the area more since I won’t have much time after Uni begins. I started off exploring the area around my hostel first, which was in Jongno-gu. It’s only 15-20minutes bus ride away from Yonsei. The area is really lively at night because of the restaurants there, though, company workers mostly occupied it.Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.25.09 pm

The food was awesome but I had trouble ordering food in the beginning of my trip. I have little knowledge about the Korean language and only knew a few words that my Korean friend taught me before coming here. Most of the time I would be using my hands to signal what I want. It wasn’t so difficult as Korean do borrow some English words like Japanese.

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I visited other places prior the starting of uni as well. Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first. I visited the palace during the Lunar New Year since I wasn’t able to spend the Lunar New Year with my family. It was so interesting to get to know the history of the palace as well as seeing people in traditional Korean Hanbok at this time, especially on little children.

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Myeongdong is another tourist attraction that I adore. It has all of the low-range to mid-range make up stores that are affordable for adolescent and young adults.

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For K-Pop or SM Entertainment fans, you have to visit SM Coex Artium located outide of Samsung Station. SM Coex has every activity for Kpop fans to enjoy and you can also experience what your idols do such as make up, hair, vocal training and recording, dance, and video recording located on 3rd floor. On the 5th floor, you can watch music video clips of your favourite idol group on a panorama screen. What I enjoy the most was the hologram musical, School Oz starring SM entertainment idols.

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Starting Uni and dorm life:

After spending 2 weeks touring Seoul, I started my university life at Yonsei University. Being directionally slow, I entered Yonsei via the main gate pulling my giant luggage around and getting lost. I finally found the SK Global House building with a helps from people I found around the uni. I found out I was suppose to enter Yonsei via the East gate (dongmun- 동문) instead. I settled my belongings down after picking up my key card at the reception area on the ground floor. Then I had to go down again to pick up my beddings that were wrapped in a big bag downstairs. I chose SK global because it has 2 choices of a double and a single room in which I wanted the single room all to myself. Although having a roommate seems like a nice way to make new friends but I like my private time in my own space.

Uni started a week later. The first week was stressful due to the subjects changing and since I was in a different environment it was hard to find my way around. Luckily I had a friend that came with me from UTS to help me out so it was all right. We soon adjusted to our new temporary home and made new friends. My stay here started out quite rocky but now it’s fun as I get to explore different aspect of Seoul and its people.

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Pros: fast public transportation, cheap taxi fares, good food, nightlife, affordable shopping, and it’s extremely easy to get around because there’s English everywhere.

Cons: Hospital services aren’t as pleasant because of the language barrier. Be careful when crossing the street because even if there’s a zebra patterned crossing on the road, it does not mean it’s a pedestrian crossing.

Additional photos from Namsan Tower:

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-Rene Nguyen (student no. 11726407)

UTS Global Exchange to Yonsei University, South Korea

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