My study abroad at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea has ended. The experiences during the 4 weeks I was there are probably going to be remembered throughout my lifetime. The people I’ve met, the food we all shared together, the activities and adventures we went on, these are stories to bring home. One of my favorite memories at Hanyang was going to my first 1 Million Dance Studio class, Korea’s most famous dance studio. Ever since high school, I remember bingeing their dance videos on YouTube and was very in awe at their dances. I was very excited to finally see the place and dance rooms in person after seeing it countless times online. Hanyang University had Hanyang Global Lions (HGL) which are Korean Hanyang University students who volunteered to organize activities and make our experience at Hanyang fun. A few of the HGL came along to guide us there. I remember afterwards, some of us wanted to have dinner so we went to a nearby chicken place and just chatted till it was time to catch the last train which was around midnight. That night was unforgettable as I learned a lot about everyone there, the difference between American and Korean culture, and ate great food. That was one of many memories that I have. However, I couldn’t leave Korea without doing one more thing.
To end my study abroad experience, I took a trip to Korea’s equivalent of the US’s Hawaii, Jeju Island! It was a 7-day long trip and so I got to experience a lot of the island. I’m writing this to show you some of my favorite places in Jeju, as well as some advice and takeaways!
The first thing I would recommend is that if you are going to be renting a car, don’t stay for 7 days. I believe you are able to do most things within 4 or 5 days. Since I was there for 7 days, I took things a lot slower. I woke up later and ended the day earlier than I would in Seoul. The island is actually really small. I believe you can drive from one end of the island to the other in max 2 hours. I actually didn’t really come that prepared but I knew I was going to make my way around the island, stopping at places I thought were interesting. I did a lot of research and saved a lot of places on Naver Maps. I highly recommend using Naver Maps in Korea as Google or Apple maps are terrible for navigation. If you’re only going for 2 or 3 days, go to the East side of Jeju. In my opinion, there are more things to do there than West or South. In addition, I also don’t recommend coming here alone but if you happen to be alone, it’s not that big of a deal. I came alone and was alone the majority of the time. Another friend I knew was also here, so we went to some attractions together when our schedules aligned.
My favorite place in Jeju was definitely Snoopy Garden. It is a museum and a massive nature walk filled with figures of characters from the comic series Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I used to read Peanuts all the time as a kid, so I was very excited to go here. As I walked through the place, I was smiling from ear to ear. Everything was so cute. The nature walk was very nice and I took lots of pictures throughout. At some locations of the walk, you were able to collect stamps and at the end, get a little souvenir which happened to be a Snoopy pin! That was cool as it’s a little thing you can take home and show that you went. There was also a little souvenir/merch store for the Peanut characters. I wanted to buy the whole store. Everything was so cute. I love Snoopy.
Lastly, one of my favorite activities I did was hike up Seongsan Ilchulbong Mountain. Jeju Island was formed from a volcanic eruption and that volcano is called Hallasan. That is one of the main attractions of Jeju Island. You can hike up to the top of Hallasan. However, this hike was estimated to take 5 hours. As someone who never hikes, I reckoned this was not something I should do. Instead, I hiked up Seongsan Ilchulbong Mountain. I think this hike took me about 30 minutes to get to the top. Even though it was a lot shorter compared to Hallasan, it was not easy. I was sweating like crazy but it was all worth it when I got to the top as the views were immaculate. I definitely recommend it to people visiting Jeju Island.
That was the end of my time in South Korea. I have experienced a lot and there are still things I haven’t yet done or seen. I hope to come back again with friends so I can also share the same experiences with them as well as meet Korean friends I’ve met during my time there.