Welcome to my blog on South Korean culture, food, and student life!
Before I start introducing you to all the awesome things I’ve seen in Korea so far, here is a quick fact sheet on me.
Major: Business Administration – Accounting
Student Level: Third-year
Interests: Food, Asian culture, Gaming, and Photography
I am studying at Yonsei University for one year.
Yonsei is considered the “Harvard of Korea” and one of the Top 3 universities that all the students in Korea try to get into. They even have an acronym for the nation’s top three universities: SKY
The “S” stands for Seoul National University.
The “K” stands for Korea University.
The “Y” stands for Yonsei University.
For most people, being able to attend any one of those universities is their ticket to a successful and stable life. The largest companies in Korea look for only the best, and to them, the best people go to those “SKY” universities. Unfortunately, this is also every student’s worst nightmare. Everyone competes against each other to secure a spot and will go to extreme lengths to make sure they are better than the person next to them.
When I think of what the average student had to undergo to enter Yonsei, I feel pretty darn thankful that all I had to do was fill out some applications to get in.
Now that we all understand how competitive and brilliant these people are, I have to also say I feel pretty darn scared to go to my classes. I’ll be taking two business classes with the regular Korean students: Organizational Behavior/Productions and Operations Management.
Let’s just hope I survive this semester.
Yet not everything is doom and gloom here as a student in Korea. As you have seen in the above pictures, the campus is beyond beautiful and the people here are friendly. And did I forget to mention that the food is incredibly cheap? I spend about $3-5 USD per meal for food that would cost me $8-10 USD back in San Diego.
Biggest surprise? That was cafeteria food. My god. The cafeteria ladies (and gentlemen) here earn all my respect and more. If they accepted tips, I would stuff that tip jar to the brim.
However, here is a quick cultural tidbit: tips are not expected and some places do not accept it. But in my personal experience, if you want to tip someone like a bartender or taxi driver, they will usually happily accept it.
But wait, I can’t end this blog post with cafeteria food! Allow me to introduce to you the wonder that is Korean shaved ice.
I thought I had some pretty good shaved ice in my life. I thought I’ve eaten it all. I thought this was nothing special.
I was wrong.
It felt like I was eating a fluffy, snow-filled cloud. When you put a spoonful of it in your mouth, the ice seems to skip the melting phase and just kind of evaporates. Yeah, I know it sounds weird. You’ll see what I mean if they open up shop in the States.
As for the toppings, they are some of the best I ever had. The red bean paste and condensed milk infused it with a nice sweetness, the mochi and jujube crisps provided alternating textures, and the peanut powder gave it a wonderful nutty flavor. I will definitely be back for more.
Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading! I got plenty of photos and stories to share later, so stay tuned in for more!
Jerry Cheng is earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting at San Diego State University. He is photo blogging from Seoul, Korea for the 2015-2016 academic year.