7th Week – Travelling South

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

Last weekend, my classmates and I traveled to a southern city called Gwangju.

There are three ways to Gwangju—by bus, by Korean Train Express ( KTX ) and by plane. It takes 4 hours by bus, while only 2 hours by KTX. I advise anyone going to buy KTX tickets several days ahead because they will be sold out fast. If you need to cancel and ask for a refund, you need to visit a KTX station, and you will be charged for a cancellation fee to get a refund. In addition, if you are foreigners who plan to stay in Korea less than half year, you are eligible to buy Korail Pass and save some money. More detailed information is here.

Based on my observations these two days, here are some differences between Seoul and Gwangju.

  • Weather: It is rainy and cloudy in Seoul this month, while Gwangju is sunny and hot. Sometimes the temperature can be up to 35° C (95 F) in the afternoon.
  • Transportation: Seoul’s subway lines are complicated because there are many, but a train comes every 5 minutes. However Gwangju only has one subway line, and you need to wait for a while if you miss it.
  • People: People I met in Seoul are nice; people in Gwangju are very nice. Sometimes they express their kindness in a way that we may not understand. For example, I went to a traditional Korean restaurant for a dinner, and the waitress was very talkative. She asked me many personal information like if I am single, and if not, she would like to introduce a nice guy to me. That was pretty funny. Sometimes we might think that is too private, but this is their way to show kindness. It is especially common in older generations.
  • Local culture: In Gwangju, we stayed at a cheap hotel where there was a traditional market nearby. Even when it is hot, we could easily see that elderly people like to sit on wooden square chairs under the trees outdoors along the road. These wooden chairs are 2 X 2 m² large, so senior people can share one chair. They just sit there with a fan and talk.