9 Student Travel Tips I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Written by Flying Chalks

Heading overseas to study? Congratulations on being one out of more than 10 million others like you who are travelling abroad to study! Chances are that you’re super hyped up for all the adventure and fun travels you’ll have. But before you get on that airplane for your overseas study program, here are 9 travel tips that will definitely help make life easier for you!

Always PLAN before you land

As the age-old saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Before you start packing for your semester-long studies abroad, read up on the country and city that you’re heading to. Tons of information can be found both online and off, ranging from travel guides, forums, blogs or even films. A good starting point to find carefully curated information for your exchange university would be the Flying Chalks University Guides, which covers essential information from the student life you can expect to even good food on and around campus! They have guides for universities in Korea, USA, Europe and more!

Learn more about the culture and social norms so that you wouldn’t stick out like an alien with your new foreign friends. Now, some may think that planning in detail can kill the spontaneity and adventurous nature of studying abroad. However, the truth is that planning can help keep you safe by knowing when and where you need to be, while also helping you to save time and money so that you can explore more places and experience the escapade of your life!Flying Chalks 1

Discover a whole new COMMUNITY at home and abroad

Going abroad to study is probably the first time that you’ve lived independently away from home for such a long time. While travelling alone offers you flexibility and independence, there are benefits of travelling in a group.

Firstly, it’s safer to travel in a group where everyone can help look out for one another. It is also cheaper when it comes to accommodations, or taking a taxi. If your school does not offer opportunities to meet others heading to the same university, check out the Flying Chalks Community! You’ll be able to connect with like-minded peers travelling to the same university or region, potentially finding yourself a travel buddy. Furthermore, you’ll be able to find seniors who have been to the same university and seek advice from them!Flying Chalks 2

STRETCH every dollar and make your wallet flexible

It is paramount that you keep track of your spending so that you won’t have to break the piggy bank when you’re going to be alone for the next 6 months! Before you embark on your journey abroad to study, check the exchange rates! Especially with the current economic climate, foreign currencies are particularly volatile, which can help you save or spend more for each dollar you have.

While travelling, look out for bargains, student benefits, and promotions to help you save that extra bit of cash. Promotions like the ISIC card or railway passes help students studying abroad by offering discounts off daily expenses such as transport and entertainment.

Now, what’s even better than promotions? Free stuff! With a bit of digging online, you’ll be able to find some free walking tours of some of Seoul’s best tourist attractions. Many European cities such as London, Berlin, and Paris also have their fair share of free walking and museum tours! Most of these tours have tours held in various languages so you do remember to find out about the tours beforehand! Studying abroad can be expensive, but with these tips, you’ll be able to do it on a budget.Flying Chalks 3.jpg

Book your FLIGHT without a fright

The cost of flying abroad is one of the highest (if not the most expensive) when embarking on your study exchange. Check for price fluctuations often (or use a price alert feature), and a significant drop could signal the best time to book.

An important thing to note is the various additional baggage fees that apply. Travelling abroad for studies will require large luggage, thus it is important to check the existing limits and additional surcharges that each airline charges when choosing an airline. Look out for certain airlines which offer student or youth promotions which will help you save a fair bit.

Lastly, you should also consider other factors such as the accessibility of the airport which you’ll be landing at, or the number of transfers you’ll take before you reach your destination.Flying Chalks 4

Where you STAY will change your day

When choosing your accommodation, think about the kind of experience that you’ll want to have for the next 6 months. Would you want to live with other students in a residential hall or campus dormitory, join a fraternity and do crazy wild stuff? Or are you interested in living like a local, finding a host family via your local university and living with them, immersing yourself in the culture and language.

Perhaps you are travelling with a group of friends, renting out an apartment on AirBnB. Consider also the costs of travelling to school from your/your host family’s apartment, the distance to the city center and major attractions that you’ll want to visit, and the general safety of the area which you want to live in. One thing that could be helpful would be finding out more about the norms of the country. In cities such as Warsaw, AirBnBs are a good option, but in other cities, short term renting of apartments could be more cost efficient and reliable. One pro-tip would be to get a bicycle, such that if public transport fails, you’ll always have your two wheels to rely on in any situationFlying Chalks 5

Get INSURED today and be assured tomorrow

When you’re studying abroad, you may encounter several mishaps such as losing your phone, wallet or even your luggage. Having insurance coverage provides you with medical, logistical and financial support when you need it most! Often, schools will have group/student policies for students studying abroad.

These policies are often subsidized and are targeted specifically to the needs of exchange students. If your school does not provide such services, fret not because Flying Chalks has partnered with companies to offer you exclusive travel gifts and discounts!

When looking for travel insurance, the two main categories to consider are: Medical Coverage, which covers you for any medical expenses or hospitalization charges incurred both during and after your trip; and Travel Inconvenience, which covers trip delays or cancellations, loss or damage of personal baggage and replacement of travel documents.

Besides insurance, you should also check if the country you’ll be studying in requires an international visa to enter, as well as the time limit that your student visa will allow you to stay for. Check out this website to see if you’ll be affected!Flying Chalks 6

PACK like a pro

What do you pack into your luggage? The task of squeezing 6 months worth of living essentials into 1 (or 2 if you’re lucky) luggage and a carry-on bag seems impossible, but it can be done. As a rule of thumb, the first question you should ask yourself is if the item is useful. For example, would you really need that thick and bulky woolly jacket if you’ll be heading to Australia for the summer? Ensure that you have your bare necessities covered. Thermal clothing is a must if you’re heading to a winter country, while swimwear will be essential when heading to the coast!

Comfortable, not branded clothing should be favoured. Think twice about that pair of 7-inch heels and go for a comfortable pair of walking shoes that will help you go the distance on your travel adventures. YouTube offers plenty of tutorials on how to maximize your luggage space so that you’ll leave enough room for all the shopping and souvenirs that you’ll be bringing home in a semester later. Always remember, you’ll most likely be able to find and buy anything that you’ve forgotten to pack in the city that you’ll be going to!Flying Chalks 7

Take nothing away but MEMORIES

While some of us may be able to memorize and recite 67,280 digits of Pi, most are not gifted with such powerful memories. The simplest way to keep the memories of your “YOLO” adventures intact would be to keep a blog. An online record of your adventures that is weather-proof can neither be stolen nor lost on a train ride is a great way to relive your memories when you grow old.

While you’re at it, you may also wish to do something special, like having a signature pose for each photo you take at the many different places you explore. Upload them to your blog, and over time it’ll become memorable to both you and your friends as that unique thing you did on your overseas exchange.

Need some inspiration? Or simply want to know more about life studying overseas? Find out about the experiences of other students on Flying Chalks’ TravelogueFlying Chalks 8

Be OPEN to the adventure of your lifetime

We’re often caught up in the rush of time, especially with the time limit hanging over our heads during the study abroad semester. With just 6 months to eat, see, play and enjoy all the various wonderful things planned out, we forget to stop and experience the moment.

After taking the photograph of your signature pose, put the camera down, take in the scenery and bask in the atmosphere. Whether it’s standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, diving down to the Great Barrier Reef, or walking along the Christmas Market in Zagreb, or climbing a volcano in Seoul, detach yourself from technology and make memories that will last you forever.

Be open to new experiences, even if you’ve never tasted Colcannon in Ireland, Bresaola in Italy or Durians in Singapore, try it! The unforgettable experiences you embark during your semester-long exchange will stay with you forever.Flying Chalks 9

Although these 9 student travel tips may apply in general to most students studying abroad, ultimately, it is you who will determine how your journey will turn out! By planning ahead, you’ll be able to stretch every dollar of your budget by finding the right flight and accommodation, while also ensuring that you stay covered from any problems that may arise. Once you’ve done all the necessary preparations, open up your heart and let the World lead you on!

Photo Credits
By Joe Lodge 33/365 Atlas

Top 5 Survival Items For Expats & Exchange Students in Korea

Living by yourself can be fun and exciting since you get to be independent and free from your nagging parents! However, it also comes with a lot of responsibility.

Last time we posted about must-have beauty products from Daiso, which is a store selling everything from beauty products to household items to school supplies all ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 KRW. Today’s post is about 5 survival items from there that we recommend for all you expats and exchange students staying in Korea for the long run to keep at home!

1. Roll Cleaner

Use these simple but innovative roll cleaners to clean hair and dust off your floor or remove lint from your clothes. You can also purchase refills in bundles.
roll cleaner.jpgIt’s a quick and simple way to clean your home and doesn’t take up any space to store either!

2. Reusable Recycling Bins

Korea is pretty strict with recycling policies and there are certain rules you should follow if you want to avoid having any angry garbage men or your apartment’s maintenance man chasing after you! Reusable Reclying Bins.jpgThese reusable recycling bins make sorting your trash easy so you don’t have to be digging through everything and sorting it at the dumpster!

3. All-purpose Tweezers

If you’re a lazy couch potato, this product is ideal for you. Now you can reach for the TV remote, switch off the lights, pick up the can that missed the bin – all thanks to these all-purpose tweezers!

4. Hair Stopper Sheets

Those of you with long hair may especially be able to relate to this. No one likes cleaning clogged hair out of a drain as it’s messy and gross. Well, you’ll no longer have that problem with these hair stopper sheets!

They come in both rectangular and circular shapes and all you have to do is peel and stick it onto your drain, then throw it out once there’s a significant amount of hair caught on it! Simple!

5. Mini Rectangular Frypan

Kitchens in one-room apartments or dorms are usually quite small and you usually don’t need to have huge cookware and tools when you’re only making food for yourself. Lo and behold, the mini rectangular fry pan for one! mini rectangular frypan.jpgThis frypan is super cute and convenient to store and the perfect size for making meals for yourself!

Don’t forget to stop by Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop for more fun and informative posts like this one!button_main 2Photo Credits
Daiso Mall

Survival Tips for Travelers to Seoul- The Illustrious T-money Card

Why Must Travelers Have This Magical T-money Card in Korea?

3686207257_703278dc32_b.jpgIn South Korea, travelers can buy a Single Journey Ticket or a rechargeable card called T-money Card. We advise you to get a T-money Card as it is a magic wand that will make your journey super convenient!

These cards can be used for all the buses, subway and taxis. If you’ve forgotten to bring your wallet, you can even make payments with these cards in convenience stores. 😉 3707332912_0192c18755_bOther T-Money items: There is a variety of accessories such as key chains, mini mirrors, straps, all of which can be used just like the T-money Card.

1. Where to buy your T-money Card

You can easily purchase the basic T-money Card at retail convenience stores such as CU, GS25 and 7-Eleven. The card itself costs 2,500 KRW.1 (1).jpgNowadays, Kakao Friends is gaining a huge popularity and it has released T-money Cards with totally cute Kakao characters. These cards cost 4,000 KRW.

2. How to recharge your T-Money Card

There are 3 ways to recharge your T-money Card.

1. Locate a ticket vending machine. They are located inside all the subway stations and train station.3686203061_017ce8945b_b

Click the third button with the T-money logo on the far right. Place your card and then select the amount of money. Insert coin or bill and wait until the charge is over.

2. Newstands near bus stops with a display of the T-money sign. You can find them usually next to the subway station exits and entrances.

3. Head over to retail convenience stores. This is the easiest way to recharge your card!

Tip: Some Student IDs offer the T-money card service, but may not be recharged at convenience stores. Therefore, find the closest subway station to reload your card.

Refunds: If you have a T-money balance of 20,000 won or less, visit a T-money affiliated convenience store and receive your money. If your remaining balance is more than 20,000 won, please visit the T-money headquarters at:

Address: 1st FL. T-money Town, Seoul City Tower Building, Namdaemun-ro 5Ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

Phone: Customer Service, 02-1644-0088/080-389-0088

Directions: Located just outside Seoul Station Exit #8, Seoul Subway Lines 1 and 4

3. How to use T-Money Card

Bus: When you get on the bus, place the card on the sensor. It will tell you how much money has been charged and your remaining balance. If an error occurs, give it a second or two, and try again. If this continues, the bus driver will let you know what the issue is. When you exit the bus, tap the sensor one more time to get a discount for the transfer. You can enjoy 4 discount transfers in a day._MG_5284Tip: Make sure you tap your card again and you hear a beep. If you don’t, you will be charged extra for distance traveled.

Metro: When you enter the subway station, place the card on the sensor. If an error occurs, press the red “help” button and the staff will come and help you.

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Photo credits to 

Taxi: Not all but some taxis do accept T-money as a form of payment. Look out for the signs on the taxi and see if the driver accepts to money.

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Photo taken from VisitSeoul

When you arrive at your destination, simply tap your card on the sensor and the screen above the gray box (see picture below) will let you know your remaining balance.

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Photo credits to VisitSeoul

*If you’re looking for a train pass that travels throughout all regions of Korea, we recommend you a KR Pass! Find more details here or read A Beginner’s Guide to Train Travel in South Korea from our previous post.

Don’t forget to visit Trazy.com for more tips and advice about new locations and things to do reviewed by users like you 🙂button_main

Survival Tip: All about SIM Card in South Korea! (Prepaid SIM Card for foreigners)

Do you want to use your phone in Korea with a prepaid SIM Card?

No worries! We’ve got you covered. 😉

Before getting a SIM Card…

First, you should check whether your phone is unlocked or not. If your phone is locked, then you should call your mobile service provider to unlock it or you can use your provider’s roaming service (but it’s expensive, so we advise not to use it).

Also, here’s a reminder for travelers from US or Canada to Korea. Some of the devices from your country may not have a SIM Card slot, so please check it before traveling.

Second, make sure your device supports WCDMA 2100 MHz frequencies. Take note that most Korean networks run as 3G and 4G.

1. Where to Buy a SIM Card

The most convenient and the easiest way to buy a SIM Card is to buy it online. If you have to buy it offline, don’t worry. You can purchase it at major convenience stores, Incheon Airport or Korean mobile service provider stores (KT, SKT, LG).

Convenience stores are the easiest places to buy a SIM Card. Small convenience store chains like Mini Stops or Family Mart sometimes don’t have enough inventories, so we strongly advise you to visit major convenience store chains like GS25, CU or Seven Eleven. %5BGS25%5DGS25_이용할_때_할인%2C_적립_팁_._정보_모음

2. Choose the Right SIM Card Typebyod-modal-step3-250x140

If you are using iPhone (iPhone 5/5S/6/6S), Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy 6 or up, then you need to get a Nano SIM Card. If you are using Galaxy 3/4/5, Huawei, HTC Desire, HTC Sensation, you should get a Dual SIM Card (micro+standard SIM). The price varies depending on each type of SIM Card (Nano SIM card is more expensive than the Dual SIM Card).

EG-SIMFBkl_.pngNevertheless, we highly recommend you to buy a USIM Card (Universal Subscriber Identity Module Card), a universal type which is compatible with phones using standard, micro and nano SIM. Seriously, USIM Card saves all your work!

After choosing the right SIM Card, decide how much you want to top up. You may find the same type of SIM Cards but with different prices. When you buy a SIM Card for the first time, the price includes the fee for the card and the rest of the amount will be for topping up.

For example, if you buy a card with the price of 30,000 won, the fee of the card is 10,000 won and the rest of the amount is the top-up.

3. Activate a SIM Card

When you purchase a SIM Card, you also get a manual including how to activate the card. Follow the manual to activate the SIM Card.

Make sure to turn on and off your phone several times when you first put the new SIM Card in your phone. (+ Also if you buy  EG SIM Card, you can find an application which helps you to activate and top-up your card.)E_AbouEGSIMCard

4. Recharge Your SIM Card

After using all the money you topped-up the first time, you can recharge the SIM Card. There are also many ways to recharge it.

First, go to the convenience store and ask the staff to recharge it for you. You don’t have to buy a new SIM Card. If you pay the money to the staff, he/she will give you a receipt with the numbers. You should call there to let them know you paid for recharging.

Second, directly call the SIM Card company to recharge it. However, you need to have an alien registration card to prove your identity. The SIM Card companies provide an English service.제목 없음

Third, use an App to recharge it. Follow the instructions on the App and you will be able to recharge the SIM Card easily.

The most frequently used SIM Card company is EG SIM Card. And this is the image of the application of EG SIM Card. Online purchase for EG Sim Card is available here.

If you want to buy not only a SIM Card but also a new phone, we recommend you to drop by Yongsan Digital Mall. On the 8the floor, there’s a store where you can buy a used phone or a new phone with a prepaid SIM Card.

Which SIM Card Should I Buy?

1. SIM Card – 3G Data & Voice Calls (Up to 30 Days)

| Ideal For: Short-term visitors & business travelers

If you only need to use data and want to make voice calls, here’s a SIM Card that provides you 1GB of 3G data and a balance of 5,500 KRW for making calls and sending SMS.

You can use this SIM Card for 30 days, and while you are using it, you can recharge as per your need via mobile app.


sim-card-mobile-data-voice-plan
Click here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

2. SIM Card – Unlimited 4G/LTE Data – No Voice Calls (Up to 30 days)

| Ideal For: Short-term visitors & business travelers

For those of you who want to get connected 24/7 in Korea, here’s a SIM card with unlimited 4G LTE data usage.

This data package is provided by the largest wireless operator in Korea, KT (Olleh) and you can also share the internet connection with other devices via tethering.

The package comes with 3 options for you to choose from, depending on how many days you want to use the SIM Card: 5-day, 10-day or 30-day.S

Keep in mind that this is a data-only SIM Card, which means you cannot make or receive voice calls. However, the SIM Card does support MVolP calls via LINE, Kakao, Whatsapp or Messenger.

sim-card-unlimitedClick here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

3. SIM Card – 4G/LTE Data & Voice Calls & SMS (Up to 90 days)

| Ideal For: Long-term visitors, international/exchange students

If you are planning on staying in Korea for more than 30 days then this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE SIM card is the best option.

With this SIM card plan, you can enjoy phone calls, text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days after activation, which also comes with a balance of 40,000 KRW.

※If you buy the SIM Card separately without balance, it costs 8,800 KRW.

You have pick up the SIM Card at Hongik University Station Office, which is the same place you can top up or extend the expiration date of your SIM Card. Make sure to bring your alien registration card and change your SIM Card before it expires.

You can also top up the SIM Card at any GS25, CU or 7-Eleven convenience store around you.

sim-card-90daysClick here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

If you want to use Wi-Fi instead of a SIM Card

If you don’t have to make voice or phone calls or send text messages, then buying a WiFi Egg or a Wi-Fi router, is the best option for you. If you want to rent one, click here.portable-wifiRead more: SIM Card vs Wi-Fi Router: Which Mobile Internet Option Should You Use When Traveling in South Korea?

If you want to buy the Wi-Fi Egg instead of renting it, you will need an alien registration card, which is an ID card for foreigners in Korea, so it is best to get your ID proved. Check out our guide to getting an alien card in Korea here.

Find this blog helpful? Then stay tuned and follow this blog! 

Visit Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, Trazy.com, for the most up-to-date travel information and destinations in South Korea.button-visit

SIM Card vs Wi-Fi Router: Which Mobile Internet Option Should You Use When Traveling in South Korea?

Do you want to share your travel experiences real time on Facebook and Instagram? Or do you have to make calls and send text messages while traveling in South Korea?

Among many options for you to get accessed to the mobile internet and stay connected in Korea, here are the two most popular options that are commonly used by travelers: Prepaid SIM Card and WiFi router, or WiFi Egg.

See which option is ideal for you based on your needs and stay connected in mobile-friendly South Korea!

1. Prepaid SIM Card
eg-sim-card-1

Need to make voice calls and use mobile data & SMS? Purchase a prepaid SIM Card!

If you are a traveler who needs to make local and international calls and also wants to use mobile data and text while traveling in South Korea, purchasing a prepaid SIM card is a better option for you instead of WiFi router.

EG SIM card is recommended as most the popular prepaid SIM card in Korea, which provides high-quality voice calls and high-speed mobile data and text everywhere in Korea. For details, click here.E_AbouEGSIMCard

Need a local Korean number? EG SIM card is what you are looking for.

Once you purchase the EG SIM card, you will receive a new local (Korean) phone number while using your own mobile phone. Therefore, the best thing about using EG SIM card is that you will be able to communicate with the locals and receive international calls as well! This is why the EG SIM card is ideal for travelers on a business trip or short sojourn who need to make local calls in Korea.

*Possible Downside
Do keep in mind that since you will be using a new Korean number, you will have to go through the hassle to tell your friends, family and acquaintances back at home about your new number.korea-sim-card-mobile-voiceFor those who don’t want to go through the hassle, here’s a small tip for you. Along with the mobile device that you are using right now, bring another one that you do not use anymore. Register and insert the SIM card in the old device and use the new Korean number. This way, you can easily make local calls by just using your old phone.

2. WiFi Router

korea-pocket-wifi-main

Need to use loads of mobile data every day? Rent a WiFi Egg!

If you are a traveler who does not need to use the voice calls and text messages but needs loads and loads of mobile data for surfing the internet and send large files of photos and videos online (and of course, avoid a bill shock from costly roaming service), using a WiFi router, or WiFi Egg, is highly recommended. For more details on WiFi Egg, click here.

Pocket-WiFi-Korea-LTEAccording to a research, the average daily usage of mobile data of travelers is 125MB/day. While the EG SIM card provides 1GB of mobile data and the 3G service for up to 30 days, the WiFi Egg provides 1GB a day.

For those who are wondering how much 1GB a day is, just think of it as sending/receiving 28,000 emails, shooting 2,000 Instagrams, or making 6,000 posts on Facebook.

Therefore, if you think about using 1GB for 30 days, the amount of mobile data provided by EG SIM card is comparatively smaller than that of the WiFi Egg. If you are using the WiFi Egg, though 1GB is still a lot of data, try to avoid heavy downloading and uploading online because you do have to pay extra charges (US$ 0.02 / MB) when you exceed the data limit of 1GB. 😉

Share WiFi with your travel buddies with WiFi Egg!

WiFi Egg can connect up to 5 people simultaneously, which makes it perfect for you if you’re traveling with friends and family or in a small group of buddies. If you do share the router with your friends, you can share the cost as well.

*Possible Downside
The battery life of the WiFi Egg lasts about 5-7 hours on a single full charge, which means that you have to carry around the battery charger when traveling. Plus, the battery life drains quicker when the WiFi Egg is used simultaneously. So make sure that you have an extra charger to charge the Wi-Fi router device. 

3. Where & How to Purchase/Rent Sim Card and Wi-Fi Router

Travelers can purchase a prepaid SIM card online and then pick it up at places such as Incheon International Airport.korea-sim-card-mobile-voiceIf you want to save your time and stay connected as soon as you arrive at the airport, we advise you to purchase the SIM card online via Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, Trazy.com.korea-sim-card-unlimitedFor those who don’t need to use any voice calls or SMS and are going to stay temporarily in Korea, the data-only plan is an ideal choice. Booking a mobile data-only SIM card at a discounted price is available here.

On the other hand, if you are planning on staying in Korea for more than a month, then this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE SIM card is a better option than the data-only plan.prepaid-sim-cardWith this SIM card plan, you can enjoy phone calls, text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days. For more info, click here.

This SIM Card is highly recommended for long-term travelers and international students visiting Korea for a student exchange program.

Similar to the prepaid SIM card, it is advisable to rent WiFi Egg online in advance and then pick up the egg at the airport.wifi-koreaOn the last day of your trip, you must return it to the collection locations, Incheon Int. Airport as an example. For more info on collection locations, click here.

sim-card-wifi-compareNow, did you get your answers for which option to use when traveling to South Korea – the prepaid SIM card or the WiFi Egg?

If you want to find out more about South Korea’s SIM Cards, make sure you check out our previous post on ‘Survival Tip: All about SIM Card! (Prepaid SIM card for foreigners)‘.

Last but not least, don’t forget to visit Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, for all the latest, newest and trendiest things to do in South Korea that will make your travel the best.button_main

Korea’s University/College Culture

Unis and colleges are quite a big deal in Korea. Thousands of high schools students literally don’t stop studying for the last few months of their final year (except when they’re eating or sleeping, which isn’t supposed to take longer than a total of 6 hours a day). At the end of their final year, they sit for the university entrance examinations (known as “soo-neung”), which would determine the university that they can go to (many students aim for the “SKY”, which stands for Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, the top three most prestigious schools in Korea), and therefore, their social and economic future.

Reaching for the “SKY”

Once they enter the universities however, the culture they’d experience is a completely new one. It’s not like a school any more, but rather a giant social playground. Studies are no longer the focus, especially in the first one or two years of university, and events such as MT (membership training), festivals and sports meets form the core activities of universities in Korea.

1. Drinking Culture

Probably as with any university in the world, drinking culture forms a huge aspect of Korean university culture. Alcohol can be found in literally every single event that is being hosted, including freshers’ orientation, sports meets, festivals and MTs.

A wide collection of Korean liquor

Other than the basic popular alcoholic beverages such as soju, beer or makgeolli, there are many types of creative Korean concoctions. Here are just a few of them:

a. Somaek (Soju + Beer)

Somaek is probably the most popular mixed alcoholic drink in Korea. In a glass of beer, a shot of soju is added (the proportion varies – very much up to personal preference). Soju, in terms of its alcohol by volume, ranges around 18 to 21% depending on the brand and the type, while beer is about 6%. The mixture is hence rather potent, given the effect of mixing spirits and the rather high alcoholic content of about 12%.

Somaek

b. Yo-So (Yakult + Soju)

This is a mixture of the popular probiotic drink Yakult and soju. Adding the unique taste and sweetness of Yakult to the already sweet soju, this is a very popular drink especially amongst female students.

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c. So-Mak-Sa

So-Mak-Sa is a mix of soju (so), makgeolli (mak) and Lotte’s cider (sa). This is a drink that adds the sweetness and carbonation from soju and cider to makgeolli (the base drink).

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d. Col-So 

Yup you’ve probably guessed this one; Col-So is a mixture of cola and soju. Again, the sweet concoction is very popular amongst female students. The unique carbonated flavour of coke mixes very well with the base alcohol of soju to create a delicious cocktail.

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In addition to all these different types of drinks, there are many events as well as games that are inherently linked to alcohol: drinking games, student-organised bars and MTs.

Koreans love drinking games. At every social event that involves alcohol, you can hear people playing games. These games vary hugely according to the university one belongs to – even the names or the rules may differ greatly. Yonsei University, for example, has a drinking game named after their cheerleading club, Blue Knights.

2. MTs 

MT (stands for Membership Training) is a bonding activity for members of a course/major, or a university society/club. The most popular location for these MTs are near the edges of the city where there are mountains, beaches or valleys. In the day, there will be various team or individual games, as well as cooking together (usually barbecue).

At night, the drinking begins! Usually, at MTs, many people overdrink and create a havoc…

3. Festivals

In early summer and autumn, college festivals take place. Some of the most famous college festivals take place in Yonsei University (name of festival: Akaraka), Korea University (Ipsilenti) or Hongik University. Almost all universities have their own festivals, but the scale and popularity (amongst their own students as well as students from other schools) differ greatly. Seoul National University’s festival, for example, is notoriously uninteresting, and even its own students are known to shun it.

Yonsei University Festival – “AKARAKA”

At the start of these festivals, many Korea’s renowned celebrities will come for short performances. At this year’s Yonsei University festival, celebrities such as IU, A-pink, YB (Yoon Do Hyun), SG Wannabe and Wheesung came to perform, while at the Korea University festival, stars such as Haha, Sung Si-kyung, A-pink and Im Chang-jung performed.

IU at Yonsei’s Akaraka

These festivals aren’t just about celebrities however, as many student clubs and societies also get a chance to showcase their efforts throughout the year at these festivals. Many bands, orchestras and dance societies get a stage around the campus to perform, and many members of the student population come down to support their friends or just enjoy the performances.

4. Sports Meet

Much like American college American football and leagues, Korean universities have football (or “soccer”), baseball and basketball leagues, amongst others. Many of the athletes from these college leagues get scouted to professional teams. Park Ji Sung, who used to captain the Korean National Football Team and played for England’s Manchester United for 7 years, was from Myungji University’s football team, for example.

The most famous and largest sports event of them all is, however, the annual Yonsei-Korea Games (Yon-Ko Jeon) held at Jamsil Stadium. Its scale matches those of Oxford-Cambridge or Harvard-Yale games, and the usual tension and rivalry between the two schools are quite high and strong.

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A large part of the games is about the sports itself, but another important aspect is the cheering culture. Each school’s cheerleading squad Yonsei’s “Akaraka” and Korea’s “Ipsilenti”, lead the school population to cheer for their school teams.  The games receive nationwide attention, with wide media coverage including the popular TV Show, “Infinite Challenge”, in which the members participated as cheerleaders for both schools.

Members of Infinite Challenge taking part in the Yonsei-Korea Games

5. Different University Areas

There are very obvious connections with the presence of a university in an area and the vibrant, dynamic youthful community around it. Here are some of the most famous university areas in Seoul:

  1. Anam: Korea University, Sungshin Women’s University
  2. Sinchon: Yonsei University, Ewha Woman’s University, Sogang University
  3. Hongdae: Hongik University
  4. Hyehwa/Daehakro: Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul National University (School of Medicine)

These different areas have their own unique atmosphere and if you should decide to visit any of them, there are things that you should take note before visiting to make best use of your time.

Anam is in a rather isolated location compared to the rest of Seoul, and is quite a trip from anywhere near the central city. However, because the Anam area is predominantly occupied by Korea University students, the atmosphere feels much more homely compared to other areas. Things like food and drinks are also relatively cheaper than other areas.

Streets of Anam

Sinchon is much closer to central Seoul, and is also much more developed. Because it is surrounded by 3 major prestigious universities with huge student populations (Yonsei, Sogang, Ewha), the area is literally filled with places to shop, eat and drink. While prices are still lower than other parts of Seoul such as Gangnam, Sinchon isn’t the cheapest place you can find.

Sinchon

Hongdae is a very popular area for all young Seoulites (and tourists), Hongdae is famous for its unique food, clothing shops as well as clubs. Hongdae is in very close proximity to Sinchon (1 subway station away).

Hongdae

Hyehwa/Daehakro

This area is traditionally known for its art scene. Theatres and performances are littered across the streets of Hyehwa and concert-goers from across Seoul flock here to catch the latest shows. It is also close to Sungkyunkwan University and Seoul National University (School of Medicine), adding to the youthful vibrance of the area.

Hyehwa/Daehakro

That was a very brief introduction to the Korean university and college culture! If you’d like to at least vicariously experience what being a Korean college student is like, you should visit one of the university areas.

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