Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

Monthly Archives: April 2011

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?

So much to do, so little time

I feel like I won’t have time to do or try everything I wanted here even though it’s not even the halfway of the semester yet. I feel like every weekend has already been fully booked for the next month or so and the plans are badly overlapping. Apparently four months isn’t enough for one country or even one city to fully experience it. I’m feeling like the time is running out. I even had a nightmare the other day that I suddenly had to return back to Finland without experiencing the things I wanted.

I’m still wondering where is the culture shock I should have experienced by now. From the day one I’ve been feeling very comfortable here in South Korea and the feeling hasn’t changed. I’m falling in love with this country and its people more and more every day.

When I first arrived to South Korea I felt very familiar after being to Japan before – the same brands, neon lights, concrete, night life, karaoke boxes… But soon I started to realize that it’s actually a lot different here than in Japan. The mentality of Korean and Japanese people is different – I’m not saying that the other nation is somehow better than the other, but they surely are different. I love both Korea and Japan and their people just the way they are.

I truly wish I had studied the Korean language more before I came here. Even though I’m studying Korean now, I feel like my progress is very slow because I’m using English a lot. I also feel like when I actually can make a conversation in Korean it’s time for me to leave this country. It really is a pity.

Here's a mix of Korean and Japanese culture - Japanese udon noodles with Korean spices.

Here's a mix of Korean and Japanese culture - Japanese udon noodles with Korean spices.

Neon lights of Seoul.

Neon lights of Seoul.

Traditional Korean houses in Seoul.

Traditional Korean houses in Seoul.

Gyeong-ju Field Trip

One week ago we did a field trip to the historical city of Gyeong-ju in South-Eastern Korea. Almost all of the exchange students joined the trip so we had three buses full of people. The whole trip cost only 50 000 won (about 35 euros) including transportation, entrance fees, dinner, lunch, after party with beer and soju and one night in a very nice hotel.

190050_1763061290361_1653964071_1640554_4515205_n

With my roommates at the Kolon Hotel.

As you may see from the photo, my hair has changed a bit. I actually went to the hairdresser with some friends few weeks ago to ask for a Korean haircut. I like how it turned out. It was only 10 000 won (about 7 euros) in a hair salon near our campus.

When we arrived to Gyeong-ju, we visited few temples at the mountains.

Seokguram Grotto had a pretty nice view over Gyeong-ju.

Seokguram Grotto had a pretty nice view over Gyeong-ju.

I love the Korean temple decorations.

I love the Korean temple decorations.

Bulguksa temple.

Bulguksa temple.

After visiting Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa temple we drove down from the mountains and visited a place that was built for the king to have parties in. Actually Gyeong-ju was the capital of Korea (known then as Silla kingdom), so it has a lot of royal history.

The party halls for the king.

The party halls for the king.

When the sun was setting down, we knew it was time for dinner.

When the sun was setting down, we knew it was time for dinner.

Meat stew as a dinner. Delicious!

Meat stew as a dinner. Delicious!

After the dinner we drove to our hotel. I saw a sign outside that said “sauna” so I was really excited that they might actually have a sauna/hot bath section at the hotel. As soon as we got to our rooms I went to search the hotel with my friend if there actually was a bath section there. We really found one! I went to get Leena and we went directly there. It was about 5 000 won (3,5 euros) for the hotel guests to use the sauna/bath. It was totally worth it! They had a cold bath, warm bath and hot bath. They also had a pretty nice steam sauna. My favourite was the hot bath which was around 42 degrees celsius – just the way I liked it back in Japan. Naisu!

After we had relaxed ourselves in sauna we had an evening party prepared by the A.G.A. members. They had a talent show and a fashion show which were quite nice! I made a video of the evening party, which you can see here.

The next day we went to see the royal tombs in Gyeong-ju.

I loved the scenery at the tombs. I also love the yellow flowers that were blooming in Gyeong-ju - the same flowers are now starting to bloom here in Suwon!

I loved the scenery at the tombs. I also love the yellow flowers that were blooming in Gyeong-ju - the same flowers are now starting to bloom here in Suwon!

It was a very nice trip – I recommend the future exchange students to join the trip as well as they seem to arrange this trip every semester.

Oh yeah, we finally got our A.G.A. baseball jackets as well.

The baseball jackets are a big part of the campus life here in Korea - every faculty has their own.

The baseball jackets are a big part of the campus life here in Korea - every faculty has their own.

css.php