With the beginning of the new year, I was full of nervous-excitement as I knew I’d be spending the rest of the month in Seoul, South Korea. Before my trip, I didn’t know much about Korean culture beside its pop culture icons, such as PSY. I had been to a Big Bang concert a couple of months beforehand, so was keen to jump in and experience the country’s rich and vibrant history and culture.
The Sookmyung Winter Beyond Borders program is designed so that students take a morning class in Korean Language and in the afternoon, can take either a Taekwondo or Arts and Crafts class. On top of these classes, the University organised events that centred around Korean culture. For example, one afternoon we learnt about Korean history from ancient times, to how it has developed into a nation in the G20 today. During this session we also had the opportunity to try on a Hanbok (the traditional Korean dress). Another highlight of the University events was Nanta, which is a comedy-musical performance. During the night, Mounisha (another Macquarie student on the Program) and myself, were pulled up onto stage to participate! It’s definitely an experience I won’t ever forget!
Sookmyung Women’s University also provided each student with a ‘buddy’. Our buddy took us around Seoul and also acted as a point of reference. For example, my buddy took myself and some other students to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village (a village that is ‘frozen’ in time). It was fantastic to know we also had someone there to help us, especially if we had any questions with out Korean language class!
Through the Program I made some lifelong friends from all over the world, particularly in my Arts and Crafts class. Since it was quite a small class, we all bonded over the excitement (and sometimes frustration!) of creating bracelets, rings and bookmarks! Our art teacher organised two big excursions for us. One to the main art gallery in Seoul, and another to Deoksugung palace and also to another Art museum to see a Stanley Kubrick exhibition.
After class and on the weekends we had heaps of time to explore the city. I visited a number of popular cafes such as a sheep cafe, and even a raccoon cafe! We also visited the Ihwa Mural Village, where artists came in and decorated the village in graffiti murals to promote the local economy. Other exciting places we visited were the Trick eye museum which was a forced-perspective picture place, Namsan Tower and even a few temples. Besides all the sites, there was so much great food to try!! Especially the food stalls in all the market places.
The Sookmyung Winter Beyond Borders program was an experience of a lifetime. I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to participate in it. I met some truly wonderful people and had some awesome experiences. I learnt so much about Korean culture, and hope to one day return and explore more of this wonderful country.
Written by GLP alumna, Stephanie Donaldson, who recently graduated from a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours). Next year, Stephanie is moving to Melbourne to start a Masters of Media and Communications at Monash University.
The Sookmyung Winter Beyond Borders Program will be running in Seoul, South Korea from Wednesday 4th of January to Wednesday 25th January, 2017. Applications are currently being accepted to the Program. The closing date is 9am, Monday 14th November. Please check your MQ Student email address for further information and a link to the application form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sookmyung Program can count for 40 points for Undergraduate GLP Students and can be used to complete the Cross Cultural Practicum requirement for Postgraduate GLP Students.