First week is already done! It has definitely been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. I am very glad the quarantine restrictions have been loosened so I didn’t have to waste time in a room by myself in isolation. So far, I have been able to get out to explore a bit, begin my classes, and adjust to being in a new country.
Before the first day of class, I was able to meet up with other Drexel students who also arrived a couple days earlier (there are a total of 6 of us studying at the same university) and so we would pick a district in Seoul (there are 25!) and then wander around to see what we can find. When we were in Gangnam, we visited the Psy Tribute (Psy was the singer of viral video “Gangnam Style”) and then went to the Coex mall which has a huge indoor library and large aquarium embedded within it! The aquarium looks small from the outside, but once you go inside you can spend 2-3 hours with all the animals they have to see! The Coex mall also has hundreds of shops, food, local events, photo ops with scenes based on a famous book, and a movie theater. We also went to the Kakao Friends and Line friends store which had an overload of cuteness.
The school had an orientation for us which had a Welcoming Ceremony with cheerleaders and helpful student and academic affair information, and a traditional Korean dance performance called samullori (사물놀이) ! It was very loud and colorful and the dancers were very talented – they were actually graduate students in the Music School at Hanyang University. Since the program I am doing only lasts a month, I have class from 9am to 7pm Monday – Thursdays in order to complete a full load of courses in an intensive amount of time. I didn’t mind the first week, however, since everyday it was raining, so it was a good motivator to be inside to learn and study. In my classes there are people from all over the world – Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, England, and more! In one of my group projects I am the only American, everyone else is from Singapore, Indonesia, or South Korea. We have over 550 students in the program from 30 different countries.
To end the week, Seoul weather was merciful to the Hanyang students and allowed us the first day with no rain to start the weekend! A few of us were able to go to Wolmido Island, a boardwalk, beach, and park in Incheon, about 2 hours by train and bus from Seoul. The main attraction there (at least for us) was the Disco Bang ride there which is banned in the United States for not having seatbelt straps. Wolmido had more than just rides and arcade games, but very different boardwalk food with a lot more meat and fish (no fried oreos or funnel cake here haha) and also an Emigration Museum, a train to ride around the whole island, gardens and nature walks up the moutaintop, concerts, and a stadium for sport games. It was nice to have the seaside breeze and see how the atmosphere of the town shifted from midday to a vibrant Friday night.
These are just a few of the things I’ve gotten to do in just 1 week of being in South Korea. I can probably write 10 more pages detailing food, transportation, culture, and other sights I’ve seen and things I’ve done, but I will hold off to do more blog posts of specific things. I just wanted the first blog to be a general introduction of my week. Excited to write more later! Thanks for reading.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.