Why Yonsei University

Guest Post By: Yoo Jin Han, a Junior studying Marketing and CISB. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through a Foster Exchange and Direct Enroll at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, during Autumn Semester 2022.

SKY is an acronym used for the three most prestigious universities in South Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. It wasn’t easy deciding where I wanted to go for Exchange. My mother suggested I go to Seoul National University, the most eminent university in Korea. I had a close friend who attended Korea University. Yet standing in the sea of blue, I knew I picked the right school—Yonsei University.

This Fall semester at Yonsei University wasn’t like any other. There were 1,200 exchange students (the most Yonsei has ever had) and with the return of in-person classes, the campus was bustling with students. It feels like there’s always something special going on at Yonsei University such as a pop-up Galaxy Studio where students can experience the different features of Samsung Galaxy phones and take pictures in a custom Photo Booth. There’s also the famous Yonsei-Korean Sports Festival (Yon-Ko Jeon) where we play ice hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball against our rival school, Korea University. This year, it is held in late October (I hope I can get tickets, wish me luck!).

Usually Daedong Festival (대동제) and Akaraka (아카라카), the annual celebration of the school, are held in the Spring, but this year it was different. The road from the Main Gate was filled with booths that gave out freebies, the baseball field was crowded with food trucks and tents where students sold food and drank alcohol, and the campus echoed with the sound of student-led performances on the soccer field. My friends and I bought crunchy Korean fried chicken (닭강정) at a food truck that accepted credit card payment. The student booths only allowed payment through Kakao Bank (the Korean equivalent to Venmo) which requires some sort of verification which seems impossible to do if you’re not a local. We sat at the soccer field with our chicken and beer as we enjoyed live band performances as well as k-pop dance covers on the big stage.

Now what makes you proud to be a Yonseian is Akaraka, the most well-known school festival due to the attendance of Korea’s most famous celebrities such as IU and BLACKPINK. There are a lot of school festivals that are open to the public which I highly recommend exchange students to attend as you get to see famous celebrities perform for free (For example, I went to Sungkyunkwan University’s Eskara festival). However, Akaraka is unique as tickets need to be purchased and much harder to attend if you are not a student due to the high competitiveness. This year, exchange students were not able to purchase Akaraka tickets because the event had not been held for the past two years and the university decided to give priority to Yonsei degree-seeking students. Fortunately, I was able to receive a ticket through a mutual friend. Akaraka began with a cheering session with Yonsei’s cheerleader team. Under the scorching sun, I found myself with my hands on the shoulders of strangers, jumping up and down, forward, and back. Yonsei’s Amphitheatre roared with the song of Yonsei’s famous cheers. You could literally hear the echo of our cheers in the distant hills. School spirit is like no other as the gray concrete stairs of the Amphitheatre are packed to the  brim with shirts of bright blue. By the time the cheering session ended, and the artists came out to perform, I felt a little drained but that didn’t stop me from singing along to the famous songs of this year’s Akaraka line-up: NewJeans, 10cm, LE SSERAFIM, WINNER, IVE, and ZICO. In addition, Yonsei has a school chant, “아라칭! 아라쵸! 아라칭칭쵸쵸쵸! 랄랄라 시스붐바 연세선수 라플라 헤이 연세 야!” I thought it would be impossible to memorize but by the end of Akaraka, with each and every artist chanting it, you’ll find yourself knowing all the words. It was an experience like no other: to be able to cheer with fellow classmates and see Korea’s rising stars for a mere $10. The night came to an end with amazing fireworks and an additional cheer session. So why Yonsei University? I honestly can’t find the right words to describe my experience so far. You’ll just have to feel it yourself—the school spirit, the thrill, and your heart beating hard in shades of bright blue from both the excitement and work from cheering so hard.

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