Local university students attend a winter culture camp as part of a study tour
A GROUP of HELP University students had a chance to experience Korean culture first-hand during a study tour recently.
Eleven students from the HELP Matriculation Centre (HMC), accompanied by three lecturer-advisers and the dean of the faculty, went on the week-long excursion.
The trip — an edition of HMC‘s annual study tour programme — was held to coincide with host institution Woosong University‘s winter culture camp for international students.
“Students from the University of the Philippines were also participating in the event so we thought it would be a good idea for our students to get to know a new culture and mingle with young people from Korea and the Philippines,“ says lecturer-adviser Chandra Nanthakumar.
Despite landing at Incheon International Airport at an early hour and in the low temperature, the HMC students were in high spirits. For some of them, it was the first time abroad.
The group was greeted at the airport by officials from Woosong and immediately whisked off to the university campus in Daejeon — known as the Silicon Valley of Korea — where participants stayed for the duration of the visit.
After a tour of the campus, the participants visited SolBridge International School of Business, the only university in the republic that has an 80 per cent international student population.
The following day, they headed to Seoul, where they visited the historical Changdeok Palace, the modern N Seoul Tower and popular shopping districts Myung Dong and Insa-dong.
The students quickly realised that haggling with local traders was difficult because of the language barrier.
An intensive Korean language class the next day solved this problem and they were able to make themselves understood on subsequent shopping outings in Daejeon.
The fourth day was the highlight of the tour — skiing at Muju Resort, a mountainous expanse close to Woosong.
The participants gamely tried their hand at skiing. They also found that a gondola ride or a hike up the Deokyu mountain provided good fun as well.
The following days were filled with more cultural endeavours such as learning taekwondo, wearing the hanbok — the Korean national costume — and cooking famous Korean dishes, kimbab and kimchi.
“I felt so good in my hanbok and headdress,“ says student Liew Shan Nie, who had dressed as a princess-cum-bride.
She learned that the colours of the sash and embroidery on the lapels of the hanbok denoted the position held in and outside the palace.
HMC dean Dhanesh Balakrishnan says the trip was a memorable one for students and teachers alike and that it had given participants some insight into all things to do with Korean culture.
Pictures courtesy of HELP Matriculation Centre