Life in Seoul and at Hanyang University (part 2): General Information

 

1. On Campus

  • On campus housing at Hanyang has a 1 am curfew that they did not enforce for foreign students. On campus are mainly Koreans, North Americans, and Asians. I was glad they did not enforce the curfew as I did not need to find other options when I was coming home late. I heard that some of the other universities did enforce their curfews.
  • Off campus housing is very close to campus and does not have a curfew. Most of the European students were on off campus housing. On campus you are not allowed to cook in your rooms. Off campus some of the rooms have small kitchen areas.
  • The welcome week events and Mentorship program can quickly set you up with friends for your entire time in Korea.
  • If you can make Korean friends they are super nice and friendly. They are often shy to interact with foreigners because of the language barrier. Once they get to know you they are great!
  • Hanyang University is located on top of a hill and there are a lot of stairs involved with getting around campus but the view is spectacular.
  • Joining a club in Korea is a really interesting experience. Koreans tend to spend a lot of time with their clubs and at some point a club will go for MT (Management training) which is a retreat where the club goes away for a weekend to party together. If you have a hobby there is probably a club that feels the same way nearby that you can join.

2. Transportation

  • The subway ends around midnight on weekends and 1am on weeknights.
  • The subway has English and Korean names for all stops and announces stop names in both languages. There are some really good subway apps for your smart phones that even show in real time where the trains are and some do not even need the internet to work.
  • Sidewalks have ridges and bumps to assist the blind or sight impaired.

3. Telecommunication

  • If you have EGsim, Olleh, or KT as your cell phone provider you get free wifi on the trains.
  • To get a Korean Cell phone plan with a data plan you need your Alien Registration Card. The first week of school the waits at the registration can be up to 5 hours but getting this done makes many things easier. You can get an EGsim plan that expires after a month from specific vendors without your alien registration card. There was also a sim card provider on campus during orientation giving out sim cards that had just phone and text that you did not need your alien registration for but it had no data plan.
  • Computer cafes are called “PC Bang” in Korea are very comfortable with great computers and snacks and a full complement of games that you can play.

4. Culture (Food)

  • McDonalds delivers in Korea.
  • Corner stores are everywhere. A nice snack is the “Triangle Gimbap” the rice triangle wrapped in seaweed with meat in the middle for 700 to 800 Won. You can also get Ramen noodles and prepare them inside the convenience store.
  • There is no tipping in Korea. And at dinner usually the bill is split and you will get exact change.
  • It is difficult to find garbage receptacles in public places. Some places to look are at washrooms or convenience stores.

5. Culture (Drinking)

  • In Korea there are places which there are no last call time for alcohol. Some Koreans tend to party until 5 am when the trains start running again.
  • There is also no rule against drinking in public and you can buy alcohol at convenience stores. Koreans however do not seem to get angry or violent when drinking.
  • Ice in Korean cocktails is completely transparent unlike in North America where they have air bubbles in the middle.

6. Daily Life in Korea

  • There is a very strong hierarchy in Korea with age playing a major role in the hierarchy. This is expressed in their drinking culture and in many ways in their culture in general.
  • Underground markets are found in many areas of town. They are like malls underground.
  • You can barter at markets. It is difficult to do.
  • They have four seasons in Seoul and it gets quite cold in December
  • You can go to professional Video Game events at stadiums.
  • You can get a very nice latte at some of the Cafes. There is a very strong artisan coffee community in Seoul.
  • Seoul is a very safe city. I have never felt unsafe at any point in my time here.

7. Tips

  • Use this comic to learn the alphabet in 15 minutes and you will be very happy when you arrive. Location names and many things are the same in English and Korean. E.g. Supermarket, Coffee shop, coffee latte, Hamburger, Pizza, Television, Computer, Taxi… I found it helpful to practice on the train reading stop names because the roman alphabet name is written right below and you can quickly compare. https://fortheloveoflanguages.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/3968335_700b1.jpg
  • Google Translate is really handy and you can download the language pack so you can access it offline. This works great for conversing with people who have little or no English.
  • Citibank machines accept North American debit cards.

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