Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

End of the semester

The Spring semester at Ajou University came to its end few weeks ago and I’ve been back to my home in Jyväskylä for two days now. It feels weird to leave Korea behind after four amazing months, but at the same time I’m happy to be back home. I was thinking I might get a culture shock after returning back to Finland, but somehow it feels like I never left home. The summer in Finland is absolutely beautiful and I’m enjoying it every day.

Our empty dorm room just before leaving it for good.

Our empty dorm room just before leaving it for good.

Saying goodbye to my awesome friends from Japan club.

Saying goodbye to my awesome friends from Japan club.

I enjoyed the last weeks in Korea a lot even though there were some projects and exams to do as well. Here are some pictures of my last weeks studying at Ajou.

These two Ajou students will be exchange students at JAMK next semester! I'll be their student tutor.

These two Ajou students will be exchange students at JAMK next semester! I'll be their student tutor.

We spent one day at the Korean Folk Village with Seona, the girl who was an exchange student in Tampere last year.

We spent one day at the Korean Folk Village with Seona, the girl who was an exchange student in Tampere last year.

Me at the Korean Folk Village.

Me at the Korean Folk Village.

We also went to the beautiful city of Jeonju with Leena!

We also went to the beautiful city of Jeonju with Leena!

Jeonju is full of history.

Jeonju is full of history.

My friends from Finland came to Korea just one week before the end of the semester.

My friends from Finland came to Korea just one week before the end of the semester.

We went to Lotte World for one day.

We went to Lotte World for one day.

When the semester ended I had one week in Korea to do some final sightseeing and to hang around with my friends. Two of my friends from Finland came to Korea after my exams were finished so we went to Lotte World together. It was a lot of fun! At the end of June we went travelling to Asia with the two of them and with my Ajou friend Anouk from Holland.

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

With my ape cousin in Batu Caves, Malaysia.

With my ape cousin in Batu Caves, Malaysia.

My friends welcoming us at Singapore airport!

My friends welcoming us at Singapore airport!

Singapore seen from Singapore Flyer, the world's largest observation wheel.

Singapore seen from Singapore Flyer, the world's largest observation wheel.

Awesome day at Universal Studios Singapore.

Awesome day at Universal Studios Singapore.

Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong.

Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong City skyline by night.

Hong Kong City skyline by night.

Cheung Chau beach in Hong Kong.

Cheung Chau beach in Hong Kong.

The trip to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong was awesome and it was so nice to meet my friends in Singapore and Hong Kong again after they left back home from Finland. I have a lot of stories about these trips as well, but since this is my Korea diary I won’t write these here. If you’re interested, you can check the stories in Finnish here. If you can’t read Finnish, you can at least check the pictures and videos. ;-)

So, this is the end of my exchange period in Korea. It was the best time ever and I highly recommend Ajou University to anyone dreaming of doing student exchange abroad. Their exchange program is very good so you’ll absolutely have as much fun as I did while learning a lot about Korean culture and your major!

After this blog closes, a new one begins. I was lucky enough to be accepted for a second semester abroad and I’m leaving to Fukuoka, Japan next January. I’ll write an English blog about this semester as well, and I’ll begin to upload the blog soon. If you’re interested, check it out as well! You can find it here.

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I already miss Korea

It has been a long time since I last updated this blog. I have seriously been super busy with my studies and enjoying Korea so I haven’t had time to sit on my computer that much. During this month or so I have been doing presentations, writing essays, visiting Ulsan and Busan, Jeju Island and even Taiwan! I love my life here and I’ve experienced so much in this short period of time. I’m seriously in love with Korea and I feel like I already miss this country even though I’m still here. It feels weird!

Taiwan has some awesome nature. Hiking there is amazing!

Taiwan has some awesome nature. Hiking there is amazing!

I attended a Korean wedding in Busan with my friend Sookie.

I attended a Korean wedding in Busan with my friend Sookie.

In Jeju Island I hiked on top of the highest mountain in South Korea.

In Jeju Island I hiked on top of the highest mountain in South Korea.

We visited Taiwan with three of my friends in the beginning of May. We were actually supposed to travel to mainland China but we couldn’t get a visa so we changed our plans to Taiwan. I liked Taiwan and its capital Taipei a lot! They have super delicious food and it’s also a paradise for shopping. I really recommend it! Here’s a video I made of our trip.

Having delicious Bubble Tea at a night market in Taipei.

Having delicious Bubble Tea at a night market in Taipei.

Few weeks ago I visited Ulsan and Busan with my Korean friend Sookie. We took the KTX high-speed train from Suwon to Ulsan and stayed one night at the house of Sookies family. They have a beautiful house on the 21st floor of an apartment building. Amazing view! During my stay in Ulsan we even tried “San Nachi” which is super fresh baby octopus. You can see a video of me trying this delicacy from this link.

On the second day of our trip we left for Busan to attend a wedding of Sookies relatives. The wedding was a really nice experience and the bride was beautiful! After the wedding we met Sookies friend whose home we were going to spend the night and we also met Sookies boyfriend and drove around the city with his car. We visited the sea shore and even took a small cruise which was a mistake – I was so scared the boat was going to flip! Here’s a video clip of the boat ride.

Having super fresh eel as our dinner in Busan.

Having super fresh eel as our dinner in Busan.

Last weekend was a long weekend because of a Korean national holiday, so we decided to head for Jeju island. It takes only about one hour from Seoul to Jeju by plane and there are super cheap flight tickets available. We paid only 80 000 won (50 euros) for a return flight to Jeju. Totally worth it!

Jeju is a volcanic island and it has beautiful and rich nature. During our stay there we visited beaches, waterfalls, a lava tube, a shrine, museums and we even climbed to Mt. Halla, which is a 1950m high volcano in the middle of the island. The trip was once again amazing!

Sunrise Peak at the East coast of the islannd.

Sunrise Peak at the East coast of the island.

Besides travelling outside of Suwon and Seoul, I’ve also been enjoying my surroundings here. Last month I attended my first ever baseball game and some amazing K-pop concerts. Here’s a video clip of the baseball game.

Lotte Giants fans are amazing! They wear these orange Lotte plastic bags on their heads to cheer for their team.

Lotte Giants fans are amazing! They wear these orange Lotte plastic bags on their heads to cheer for their team.

Spring is the time for Campus Spring Festivals and we had our own here at Ajou University as well. They invite some very popular artists to perform at universities and for three days or so the campus fills up with street stalls and smiling faces. The festival was awesome!

Our Japan club was selling takoyaki (octopus dumblings) at the festival.

Our Japan club was selling takoyaki (octopus dumblings) at the festival.

These student operated restaurants/bars were open until morning.

These student operated restaurants/bars were open until morning.

We had some great performances at the festival. Here’s two video clips of Korean pop artists – Girl’s Day and IU.

I also visited another campus festival in Seoul. One of my favourite groups in Korea is 2NE1 whom I really wanted to see while in Korea, so when I heard they’ll be performing in one of these FREE campus festivals in Seoul, I just had to go there. It was an amazing experience to see my idols live! Here’s a video of this campus festival as well.

I only have two weeks left in Korea and it feels like the time has passed by so quickly. At the same time I’m happy to return back home but I know I’ll miss Korea. I still have a lot of cool things left here in Korea as well as in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong after my semester here ends. I’ll update more about these  later! See ya!

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The cherry blossom season

The cherry blossom season is already over and the summer is about to begin, but here are some pictures of my favourite season of the year – spring!

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Having a picnic after midterm exams.

Having a picnic after midterm exams.

The above pictures were all taken at Ajou University campus. Here’s a short video of the cherry blossoms.

Only few weeks ago it was still quite chilly in the evening but now it’s all hot and humid here. It’s very green and colourful and it smells like summer. Without the humidity it would be perfect, but the humidity makes you all sticky the moment you step outside. I’m glad the Finnish summer is not humid.

My midterm exams went quite well I think. We haven’t received all of the results yet though, so it might be either way. I did however get my results from Korean language and Taekwondo and I did well on those, yay!

The grading in Korea is a bit different from what it is in universities in Finland. Here they use the bell curve for grading, so someone always fails. Even though I did quite well it doesn’t mean I passed – if everyone else did better than me, I will fail. That kinda sucks! :-D

I won’t have any final exam for the Tourism & Culture or for the Current Issues in Korean Society, but I will have to do final research for those courses. Tomorrow is Buddha’s Birthday which is a national holiday, so we’re going to begin our group research for the tourism course. Our topic is toilets in Suwon, so we’re going to visit some toilets here. Actually Suwon promotes itself with its clean and fun toilets. Seriously. It’s a funny research topic I think!

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Beautiful Busan

As I noted in my previous post, I went to Busan last weekend. Busan is a beautiful harbor city in the Southern coast of Korea. There’s a Free Shuttle Bus from Seoul to Busan for foreigners that operates until the end of December 2011, so I recommend everyone visiting Seoul this year to visit Busan as well. The place where the bus leaves might be difficult to find, but it’ll help if you get off at Gwanghwamun subway station (line number 5) and go to exit number 6.

The bus has only 26 seats and it's super comfortable! It takes about 5 hours to reach Busan.

The bus has only 26 seats and it's super comfortable! It takes about 5 hours to reach Busan.

The subway system in Busan is very easy to use and it only has four lines so it’s easier to understand than the subway in Seoul. Unfortunately you can’t use the T-money card available in Seoul and Suwon in Busan subway but it’s still easy to buy tickets (edit: they have changed the card system so now you can use T-money almost everywhere in South Korea!). A one-day-ticket costs only 3 500 won and you should buy it if you plan to travel more than 3-4 times a day (the single ticket for one zone is 1 100 won and for two zones 1 300 won).

Our hostel room had like 50 TV channels. This double room in downtown Busan was only 15 000 won/person/night.

Our hostel room had like 50 TV channels. This double room in downtown Busan was only 15 000 won/person/night.

Busan has a lot to offer especially on a sunny spring/summer day. There are many beaches with white sand, a large fish market, Busan tower with amazing view, beautiful temples, and there’s even the largest department store in the world in Busan. We stayed there for three days and two nights which I think was just perfect for enjoying most of the sights in Busan.

The largest department store in the world had also a skating ring inside.

The largest department store in the world had also a skating ring inside.

You can even find ruisleipä (Finnish rye bread) in Busan!

You can even find ruisleipä (Finnish rye bread) in Busan!

The Beomeosa temple is about 30 minutes away from downtown Busan but it's still worth visiting.

The Beomeosa temple is more than 30 minutes away from downtown Busan but it's still worth visiting.

You should try the famous pajeon pancake near Beomeosa temple.

You should try the famous pajeon pancake near Beomeosa temple.

Don't forget to enjoy the scenery from Busan tower for only 4 000 won.

Don't forget to enjoy the scenery from Busan tower for only 4 000 won.

The street food at Piff square is also worth tasting.

The street food at Piff square is also worth tasting.

Haeundae beach is the perfect place for sunbathing. Be careful with your Scandinavian skin.

Haeundae beach is the perfect place for sunbathing. Be careful with your Scandinavian skin.

Finally, here’s a short video I made of the trip to Busan. Enjoy!


Soon it’s time for the midterm exams

It really is the halfway of the semester soon. Next week will be the beginning of the midterm exam period, but instead of studying the whole weekend, I decided to go to Busan for three days and two nights. We’ll be leaving to Busan with Anouk, my friend from Holland, tomorrow morning at 8am from Seoul. Because it takes time to get to Seoul, I think we’ll have to leave home at around 6am… I can feel the sleepiness already!

In order to fully enjoy the trip, I’ll do my homework in advance and study for the exams today as much as I can. I’ll be back to Suwon late on Sunday evening so maybe I’ll do what the locals do and spend the night at the library. They seem to believe that sleeping in the library beats studying at home for what it comes to getting good grades! ;-)

Cherry blossoms in Seoul.

Cherry blossoms in Seoul last weekend.

This week has been warm and beautiful so the cherry blossoms have been opening. The spring has arrived! It’s a shame that the most beautiful season is the time you’ll have to study the most. But for me, spring gives the energy to keep studying. You can always just take your book or laptop with you and sit under the blossoming cherry trees and enjoy the good weather while studying.

To stody indoors...?

To study indoors...?

...Or to enjoy the spring outside?

...Or to enjoy the spring outside?

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