Before coming to Seoul for exchange, I had created a short list of things that I’d like to do during my semester abroad. As time went on however, the list quickly grew and it became apparent that there was no way that I could fit in everything that I had originally hoped to do! There are simply too many things to see and not enough time. I am proud to say that I have accomplished a lot during my two months here and am eager to continue my exploration of myself and my surroundings during the last two months of my stay. In this post I want to highlight some sights that I particularly enjoyed and recommend some activities in the case you ever travel to Seoul!
One of my favorite trips that I have taken and would recommend to anyone visiting South Korea was my journey to the island of Jeju. Jeju is commonly referred to as the “Hawaii of South Korea,” and is a common travel destination during the warmer months. The island itself has beautiful beaches and breathtaking natural phenomena as a result of its volcanic origins. Additionally, it boasts its own culinary delicacies in the form of black pork (which refers to the dark-skinned color of the pigs) as well as its own regional dialect. Since it is a common vacation spot for Koreans, the public transportation is very well organized and it is simple to take a bus from the central city to any corner of the island. On our first day in Jeju, my friends and I explored the Manjanggul lava tube. Lava tubes are created when molten lava flows underneath the surface of hardened lava, this results in the creation of a tunnel/cave system. The Manjanggul cave was a very expansive system measuring over 13 km long, of which 1 km is open to the public; it is ranked the 12th longest lava tube in the world. Additionally, I had the opportunity to hike Hallasan national park. Hallasan is a shield volcano that is located in the center of Jeju Island. It is the highest peak in South Korea and provides an incredible view from the whole island. It was definitely the most arduous hike that I have ever undertaken and it took about 8 hours in total to reach the peak and get back down, including ample breaks. The view itself is worth it though, and sitting above the clouds gives a feeling like nothing I’ve experienced before. These are just two aspects of my trip to Jeju that made the visit so memorable and I would definitely love togo there again.
Yet another experience that I had the opportunity to go on was an MT for the Kickboxing club. MT stands for “membership training” which consists of travelling outside of Seoul with your club to enjoy a full night of eating, drinking and socializing. My club traveled to the small district of Yeonsuri and stayed in a resort area, that provided us with beautiful views of the autumn foliage. It took around 2 and a half hours to get to the location but once we got there we enjoyed grilling pork barbecue (samgyupsal), participating in karaoke (noraebang) and lighting sparklers. It was a great chance to meet new friends and commonly considered to be one of the “quintessential Korean college experiences.”
In conclusion, I have had a great time exploring and adventuring in South Korea. While I still have many more things I want to do while I am here, I am very thankful for the experiences I have had so far. Thanks for reading and in my next post I will talk about some of the cultural aspects of Korea, including dining and etiquette.