Midterm week is approaching here at Hanyang University so I haven’t been able to go anywhere interesting yet but my friends and I here definitely have plans to start crossing things off the bucket list next week!
Anyways, university clubs. As I mentioned last time, Hanyang held a club fair early into the term. Based on my experience, there were unfortunately many clubs that don’t really reach out to foreigners but it was understandable. The two I found however, are probably the most enjoyable parts of the school week.
There are two clubs here, the one I’m mainly a part of is called SSC (Speaking Society Club). The rule is that you have to speak as much English as possible. This club generally lasts from 6 pm to 8 pm and we discuss topics prepared by the executive board. For example, we have already talked about AI technology, reunification of North/South Korea, hangovers, steps to success, and more. There’s also quite some time to get to know the other club members. The Korean:foreigner ratio is around 10:1 so I do recommend taking a friend if you’re the type to get uncomfortable. However, everyone is friendly regardless. Surprisingly, many of the people are there less for the English practice and more for the social aspect!
Although this isn’t part of the club activity itself, it is very common for clubs to get dinner together every week. We’d leave in a group of 30-40 people and just take over a nearby restaurant and get to know people better. After dinner, some people go to a second location, generally a “pocha” (포차) as seen in the featured picture. A pocha is basically a kind of bar, but styled like a restaurant. The food sold there isn’t really meant to be a meal but rather snacks to eat while drinking soju and beer, such as ddeokboki, fried pancakes, ramen, french fries, and so on. Just make sure to not mistake it for an actual restaurant! It’s pretty easy to see why people might join clubs mainly to have fun. The other English club I can’t really participate in because I have a class during 6-8pm on that day but the friends I have in that club as well as the other Koreans gladly invited us to join just for the dinner-socializing part!
Clubs have been more-or-less cancelled for two weeks in preparation for midterms. The last time I went to “pocha” with them though, an alumni came by and treated us to ice cream. They also took us to a traditional place to try makgeolli, which is Korean rice wine that is meant to be sipped from a bowl.
Now that I’ve more-or-less introduced the groups I’ve met here, I hope to finally start talking about the must-visit places here in Korea! Next week, I’ll try to generally introduce as many regions in Seoul as I can; Sinchon, Ehwa, Hongdae, Myeongdong, Gangnam…