Hi! I’m Angela – a final year law student and volunteer for Griffith Mates at the Gold Coast campus. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff in my time at Griffith, but ironically, the coolest thing by far was leaving Griffith behind for a while to go experience university life in another country.
At the end of last semester – while the ink was still drying on the last of my exam papers – I was on a plane to South Korea. With my fellow Griffith Mate and trusty travel companion, Oscar, snoring gently beside me, I was excitedly/nervously contemplating the three weeks ahead. Pukyong National University International Summer School: what would it bring?
Pukyong National University (PKNU) is in Busan; Korea’s second-largest city, famous for its beaches and drivers with extremely liberal interpretations of road rules. The university itself is conveniently close to a lot of Busan’s tourist attractions – I could even see one from my room in the dormitory. My jaw dropped every time I saw the view with the iconic Gwangan Bridge (Diamond Bridge) right outside my window.
The PKNU International Summer School brings together students from universities all over the world to share their cultures with one another and experience Korean culture together. There was almost 100 of us from Indonesia, China, Australia, Thailand, Brazil, United States, Norway, and more. There were also Korean students from PKNU enrolled with us in the summer school. My roommate in the dorm was a PKNU student. I knew she was kind from the first time I met her and she helped me translate what flavour onigiri I had lucky-dipped at the convenience store after my late-night arrival from the airport (I got SPAM flavour!!!). It was the first of many nights chatting and snacking in our room.
Before I arrived at PKNU I chose from a list of courses one that I wanted to study during my three weeks away. I picked ‘Understanding Korean Culture’ because my knowledge was mostly limited to what I could glean from (my unhealthy obsession for) K-pop and Korean movies. I wanted to know more. Although I was secretly hoping for a celebrity sighting. I didn’t see any. Unless you count seeing their likeness on advertisements in the street…it totally counts. See? I met G-Dragon! In a dirty back-alley…okay, it doesn’t count.
We also had a course called ‘Global Culture’ that all students had to do. So I was to have Understanding Korean Culture in the morning and Global Culture in the afternoon, Monday to Friday. When I heard that this was my schedule, I was apprehensive. When would I have time to explore? Never fear. The courses were ingeniously designed to incorporate a number of activities and excursions so we could get out and see Busan and try on Korean culture.
Join me for Part Two when I will share my attempts at some of the activities with you. Spoiler alert!!! I don’t have any good skills.