With a lot of you well into the second semester of uni, enjoying the second round of O-week and attending more club events, I thought I would share what Korea’s campus life is like. It’s no surprise that high school education can be VERY intense in Korea, *ahem* this k-drama Sky Castle plays with the idea in a more dramatic sense but once you’re in university, you can finally let yourself go a little bit. Universities in Korea are all about college spirit, making new friends and having a lot of fun!
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Most universities in New Zealand start the semester off with Orientation Week, or O-Week for short. From what I can remember, Orientation Day occurred just a few days before lectures started where you’ll be guided around the campus as a quick introduction. But at Korean universities, orientation is a lot more interactive! You’ll get a chance to make friends with upperclassmen through what they call ‘O-T’ which occurs through two to three days. On top of that, the university's student council would rent out a resort to accommodate all new students. You’ll get the necessary introduction as well as completing group activities to get to know each other. The best way to make new friends! I think this is super important especially when you don’t know anyone at a new college. An O-T may last throughout many nights (depending on if there’s alcohol involved!).
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Not to get O-T confused with MT which stands for ‘membership training.’ This is specifically for student clubs and recently, they’ve taken MT to the next level! During the new year or semester, new members would get together at a remote city like Paju, Jeonju, or even Jeju Island. You can think of it as team building where new club members are given the chance to spend time together and develop a sense of membership. They go to different attractions throughout the day and in the evening, you drink a LOT! So infinite drinking games are played too 🍻 During the MT season, most lectures are cancelled by professors. So students can have a stress-free time and don’t have to worry about catching up on lectures after MT.
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Throughout the school year, there's a ton of festivals where k-pop idols make an appearance! One of the most famous festivals is Ipsilenti (입실렌티) hosted by Korea University. Or if your attending Yonsei University, there’s Akaraka (아카라카) 💙 These two universities make up the acronym SKY, which represents the top three prestigious universities in Korea. During the Ipsilenti festival, students wear red, Korea University’s representative colour, as they cheer the school anthem and sing along with the k-pop artist. There’s also the Yonsei-Korea Games that happens annually. A two-day event, it’s filled with sport matches between Yonsei University and their athletic rival, Korean University. Playing five different sports, basketball, ice hockey, soccer, rugby, and baseball, they verse each other and really get into the competitive spirit!
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It’s also an opportunity for universities to show off their cheerleaders, another prominent aspect of Korean universities. During many of the universities’ sports games, a cheer battle occurs too. Korea universities’ style of cheer is quite different to what you see in the US. To get an idea, check out this video here of each of Korea University and Yonsei University’s cheer. The k-drama Cheer Up actually revolves around these two universities’ and their lifestyle of cheerleaders, from the audition to these big performances!
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To continue on the college spirit, varsity jackets have always been a big thing. I’ve come across Koreans competing for fun about which jackets are cooler than the others’! They’re personalised too, with a badge representing which department you are under. With sporty fashion becoming a trend, I guess these college varsity jackets perfectly fit into this. But even more recently, different merches have been trending too, and you probably won’t expect it! You can rep your college with ‘4 Cuts for Life’ photo albums and Yonsei University even has their own branded line of cream breads including Milk Matcha Cream Bread!
These are just some of the more special events and unique finds of Korea’s university life! Of course, within all this fun, just like school life here, stress is bound to happen for example, exam seasons. When this time comes, the streets where university students usually flock to are actually empty and completely silent. I guess, like us, we are cramming in studies to ace the test 💯 But nonetheless, university life is definitely something to look forward to and get excited about!