Seoul already feels like home. I have been here for a month and two weeks already, yet it feels like so much longer. I have gotten used to my class schedule and already have my daily routine. I have noticed that my life here is so different from the life I have back home, mainly because there is just so much to do. Back home I would normally go straight home from class, and when I did go out with friends we would almost always do the same things. I have met people here that also make the experience that much better. One thing is sure, I’m going to miss Korea when I leave.
Two weeks ago Chuseok was celebrated, which is similar to the United States’ Thanksgiving. On these two days, everyone unites as a family to cook and eat and give thanks. Most people in Seoul have family that live outside of Seoul, which is why most people leave Seoul and go to other cities in Korea. During these days Seoul is pretty empty and everything is closed, so me and my friends chose to visit a rural city about two hours away from Seoul called Gangneung. We spent four days in Gangneung, because the two days off we get for Chuseok were right after the weekend. Gangneung is a coastal city, so of course the main attraction was the beach. It is completely different to Seoul in so many ways.
There is no subway system, so we moved around only on buses, it consists mainly of an older population, and there were tons of farms harvesting all kinds of vegetables and fruits. I noticed the lack of foreigners in Gangneung, and it was a really good opportunity to put my Korean language skills to the test since almost no one spoke any English. Life in Gangneung seemed more relaxed and slow compared to the constant rustle and bustle of Seoul. However, while I was in Gangneung I found myself missing Seoul because, though I can appreciate the beauty and calmness of Gangneung, I consider myself a city person. I also realized, once I was back at Seoul Station, that I felt like I was home again. It was a really nice trip, and my friends and I are already planning to go to Busan, the second most-populous city in Korea, sometime next month.
Right after Chuseok it was back to class, but the fun did not stop there, this week my university went against our rivals, Yonsei University, in Rugby, Ice Hockey, and Soccer as part of their annual 고연전 (Goyeonjeon). It was the first time I got to experience Korean cheering. You might wonder how different can Korean cheering be from any other kind of cheering you might be used to… very. The main move in Korean cheering consists of putting your arms over the shoulders of those next to you and aggressively head-banging. We lost our most popular game, which is soccer, but the cheering at the closing ceremony was not any less intense because of it.
The main street around Korea University was closed so students could cheer all night. The night was filled with head-banging, and singing and chanting against the Yonsei “Chickens” as we call them. Needless to say, the cheering left me with some pretty bad back pain. It was all worth it though, I met so many people just randomly in the street by going into their circle and joining their cheering, where I was always received with a smile and instantly someone would put their arms over my shoulder. It was definitely the most fun I have had since I have been in Korea.