I’m here to give you a crash course guide on enjoying your time abroad in the vibrant city of Seoul, South Korea.
Public transpiration was one of my favorite things about South Korea. Traveling by subway is easy and definitely more time efficient than trying to find a parking spot on campus. You will need a public transportation card or “T-Money” card, which can be used for the subway, buses, and taxis. You can buy these cards at any convenience store and load them with money there or at any subway station. A subway ride is only 1,250 Korean won or roughly one American dollar. Beware, the subway does not run after midnight and has special times during holidays. The bus system in Korea is comparable to our O.U.T. buses at Ole Miss, but make sure you always have enough money on your T-Money card or the bus driver will expose you in front of the entire bus. If you spend a night out, I recommend taking a taxi home unless you plan on leaving by midnight to make the last subway home.
There are so many places to recommend! If you like shopping, places like Ewha Women’s University, Gangnam, Myeongdong, and Seoul Station are ideal. Be sure to go eat fried chicken and ride bikes at Hanging River or Seoul Forest if the weather is nice. If you are looking for fun nightlife and food similar to The Square (only about a hundred times bigger) Hongdae, Itaewon, and Konkuk University are great places to grab something to eat and drink with friends. If you visit or study abroad in Seoul, animal cafes and themed cafes are a must and can be found almost anywhere in the city. My personal favorite cafe was the watercolor cafe, “PeachGray” near Jamsil!
Oh my gosh… the food! You will soon become accustomed to having ten side dishes with every meal and no tipping. Korean barbeque was a weekly must for me and my friends. “Gustos” in Hongdae has the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, not even Casa Mexicana on Jackson Ave can compare. My favorite things to eat during my study abroad were fried pork cutlets, spicy noodles mixed with rice cakes, and Korean style pizza. Korea also offers some amazing desserts such as the very popular “Sulbing” which is similar to a snow cone. Sadly, you and your friends are still students with limited money, so you might find yourself eating ramen at a convenience store or getting Mcdelivery three times a week… or four. Yes, McDonald’s delivers in Korea and yes, it’s actually the best thing ever. If you really want to save money, do not EVER go into the bubble tea store “Gong Cha.” Just trust me on this one.
If you study abroad in South Korea, you will very quickly find out about the forbidden fruit – soju. Soju is an alcoholic rice drink that almost every abroad student comes to love and hate. Drinking and nightlife culture in Korea is very different from what you’ll find on The Square. South Koreans love drinking games and within a couple weeks (or days if you like to go out) you and your friends will be chanting right along. And the parties usually go until the morning, so no going home at 1 am! I stayed in a part of Seoul called Anam and highly recommend Choonja, Daddy J’s, and The Hub for all your party needs. But if you’re really missing places like the Levee or Roosters, Thursday Party in Hongdae or Itaewon is more western style and a great place to meet other foreigners!
I will admit it was a culture shock at first, but you won’t regret visiting South Korea! I, myself, cannot wait to go back!