5/7/2019- Education: Gangnam Style

When my alarm rang this morning, I was struck by conflicting emotions. On one hand, I really could’ve hoped for a few more precious hours of shut-eye. However, I was motivated to get up when I remembered that today would be the day that we were to travel to Hanyang University. This trip was intriguing to me, because I was very curious to see how the university experience in Korea was both similar to and differed from the lifestyle we live back home in Pittsburgh. After getting dressed and boarding the bus, we were off for Hanyang. The ride lasted around 45 minutes and was fairly uneventful, except for the opportunity to take in some more of the gorgeous sites throughout Seoul. When we arrived, I was immediately struck by the campus’ beauty. It was a very condensed, extremely hilly campus that featured a wide variety of architecture, from glass buildings and bustling convenience stores to stone structures and coliseum-like amphitheaters. We were led to a conference room where we listened to a number of fairly brief presentations on topics such as the university’s history, its international programs, and conferences it hosts. These included interesting facts such as that the school was founded as an engineering college (the first in the nation), that it hosts nearly 10,000 foreign students per year, and that its original motto was “The Engine of Korea”. After these info sessions, we attended a lecture by an English professor at the school who grew up in Pasadena, California. His parents were from Korea and he decided to return to the nation to raise his own family. He gave us a very intriguing speech about Korean culture and its defining traits of resilience and unity, and how they were forged by the many difficult times of war and strife the country has faced over the years. Next, we were introduced to four Korean students who showed us around their campus, including interesting sites such as a gelato shop and the iconic statue of Hylion the Lion, the school’s mascot (Hanyang+Lion=Hylion, genius right?). The tour concluded at the school’s cafeteria, where we were served a delicious lunch that consisted off a spicy chicken soup, rice, kimchi, and tofu with chili sauce. After we were done eating, we went to the on-campus museum, where we saw many artifacts from the first years of the university, such as the founder’s desk and exhibits featuring some of the school’s most famous alumni like Park Chan-ho, a former MLB player. After a quick group picture, it was time to board the bus and venture back to our hotel. After changing into more comfortable clothes, a group of 8 of us walked a few blocks to the nearest subway station, and after enlisting the help of an English-speaking Korean man for directions, made our way to Gangnam, the rich, commercial center of Seoul made famous by the viral song “Gangnam Style”. There, we explored Coex, the world’s largest underground mall, visited a Lamborghini dealership, saw the Olympic Stadium, and took in the last few innings of a Korean League baseball game between the Kia Tigers and the Doosan Bears, which ended in a thrilling walk-off win for Doosan. Another great day of educational Korean experiences in the books!

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