Korea-oke 🎤

Our first Tuesday in South Korea was a fantastic experience.

From left to right, John B., Micah H., and myself at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
From left to right, Tilman C., Jefferson B., myself, and Tyler S., at the Gyeongbokgung Palace.

We started our day with a bus ride to Hanyang University—a private research university in Seoul, where we got to see their campus and learnt about Korean culture and history from a local professor. Their library makes Hillman look pale in comparison, but to be completely fair, they are private and Pitt is a state-funded public university.

A Hanyang seal seen in the university museum.

One of the most fascinating facts about Hanyang, and maybe the Korean education system at large, to me was the imbalance between the amount of government funding and regulations on the school. According to Hanyang’s representative, only an insignificant 3% of the school’s budget comes from the city of Seoul. However, up to nearly 100 regulations and government mandates are placed on the school under numerous categories. The school cannot decide by itself the number of students they want to admit, the tuition rate, how they choose to allocate their funds, etc. This is something that was very interesting in my opinion.

After Hanyang, we went to some sort of a cooking school for foreign amateurs—I think. Different veggies, “fish cakes”, and “rice cakes” were prepared for us. A frying pan was also provided in order for us to cook a dish called Tteokbokki or Korean Spicy Rice Cake. It was a great experience and we also received a certificate with a recipe attached to bring home.

Cooking up some Tteokbokki.

The best part of the day was definitely when the sun was coming down and we were headed to Hongdae using the subway system. The neighborhood turned out to be one of the coolest areas in the entire city that we have visited so far. We had an interesting hot pot with questionable ingredients like squid and cow intestines (I know!). And then we hit the karaoke bar where we sang and danced the night away.

Pitt students immersing themselves in Korean culture and also Taylor Swift.

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