Seoul City Tour

Last Wednesday, Hanyang University took us on a one-day tour of Seoul. It wasn’t very┬áin depth, and in my opinion you’d be better off with a bit of free travel, but it did get the last few things I hadn’t done out of the way.

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Hello. Today was the first official day of classes at Hanyang. I’ve enrolled in three: beginner’s Korean, crisis management, and the Korean media industry. However, I’m planning on switching from crisis management to biology as that will take the place of my last science course. And apparently the professor gives away chocolate (according to my roomie at least).

The weather here in Seoul was nearly as bad as Calgary today. When my roommate and I started walking to class at 8:20 in the morning to pick up text books and avoid getting lost, it was cool enough to wear a cardigan. By 8:40, I was ridiculously hot even after taking off my cardigan. Darn this hilly campus. During my last class, there was a torrential downpour in the area. The thunder was loud enough to make the curtains in the classroom shake!

Classes were pretty good today though, and we were let out as soon as we took a placement exam in my Korean course. The exam was entirely in Hangul, so most of us just wrote our names on it and handed it in. There’s a reason we signed up for the beginner’s course, which in the course description said it meant for those with no knowledge (or very little) of Korean. I know a lot of students were complaining that coming to class was a waste of time due to only spending five minutes to take the test, but I think the teachers were just trying to see if they could split a larger class into two or more based on how little they knew (for example, I can read Hangul, so the fact that we have an entire week to memorize the alphabet is a bit wasted on me).

The crisis management course if pretty much public relations all over again. And for all my j-school friends who took the PR introduction course, you’ll be pleased to know it’s almost exactly the same in that I need to read two chapters and then teach the class about said chapters. I’ve decided to drop this course, as I’ve learned (albeit not in as much detail) about crisis management back at Mount Royal, and I really have no desire to teach a class for two days. Not to mention that I’ve been sent on a mad hunt for the textbook, which apparently can be found at any bookstore in Seoul, except for the one on campus. Instead, I’ll switch to biology, where the text will only cost $5 (compared to $50 for crisis management) and the teacher gives out chocolate. Cheap and free food! What more could a student ask for?

The media industry course is definitely going to be my favourite. I might be a bit biased though, as the professor, Changhee Chun, reminds me so much of all the journalism professors in first year (right down to taking shots with him!). He’s done plenty of film work both in the States as well as Korea, including documentaries and music videos. Not to mention that he’s trying to bring in someone from an idol group to talk to us. The course is pretty work intensive, with five-minute presentations and a short essay due every week. It’ll be worth it though.

I’ve also met some great new people so that’s always exciting. Tomorrow is the Seoul City Tour, which will wrap up the rest of the touristy things I need to do. So many picture posts to do over the next few days! The plan is to visit Gyeongbokgung, a traditional Hanok village, and the Seoul N-Tower.

My one complaint is that the school seems to be a little disorganized at this point. I’ve mentioned the textbook fiasco, but there has also been some issues with paying fees (as the fees for Mount Royal students are being waived) as well as with the dorms. As I was placed in an off-campus dorm, we were notified by a sign on the main entrance this morning telling us we would need to pay for gas and water once we check out. Not something you want to hear when you’re already paying the university dorm fees. It’s been sorted out now, and confirmed that the students will not be charged for gas and water (after mass confusion on Facebook and emails sent to the coordinators). All in all, not a bad day.

Namdaemun Picture Diary

Namdaemun Market is across the street from my hostel, so I go there to grab food a lot, or sometimes just to kill time. Walking through it is a lot cooler since the walkways are close together and the numerous stalls provide plenty of shade.

You can see Seoul Tower from Namdaemun Market

Mandu of all sorts! I come here way too often since the wang mandu is only 1000 won.

In the evening, the streets are lined not only with stalls selling anything from clothes to ginseng, but also plenty of food. 

This is the easiest way to get fruit in Seoul. You can usually find a vendor selling slices of pineapple or  melon on a stick for 1000 won.

There’s also plenty of vendors selling bulgogi. Just choose what you want them to barbecue for you!

You can find souvenirs of all sorts in Namdaemun, including traditional goods, or random k-pop paraphernalia. 

The infamous padded underwear. I wonder if anyone actually wears these?

Namdaemun Market has an entire section dedicated to selling ginseng.

Displayed at a restaurant. I immediately though of “Spirited Away” when I saw it. Remind me not to eat here.

Dinner was mukguksu, or noodles made from buckwheat and acorn starch served in an icy broth. After walking around in 30 degree weather, it was very refreshing.

My hostel is right across the street from Namdaemun Market, and up a giant hill. 

And here’s looking down from the top of the first hill.

The view from about halfway up.

Second hill. The hostel is past those buildings.