SCHOOL’S OUT! SCREAM AND SHOUT! It is finally the end of finals and I am free at last! Free to sleep in and not stress about school for a little while!! Finals week was such a drag, but I tried my best and did what I could.
Throughout this past semester, along with taking classes and exploring Korea, I thought that it would be cool to join a club or two on-campus. Fall semester took away this opportunity from me so I knew that I had to put myself out there for spring semester. I actually managed to accomplish a lot by doing this, met a ton of new friends <3, and learned a lot about campus life that I never knew existed in the first half of my time here. It was a small adjustment at first, but it was a decision that I will never regret.
Here is a list of things that I didn’t know before and things that can help you expand your social circle while being an exchange student abroad!
Club Fair Events
Firstly, club recruitment generally starts very early (June-July for some and August for others). This is because Korean university calendars are different from American ones. While American schools start the semester in August and end in early May, Korean schools start in late late august and end in the middle of June. Because of this, make sure to be on the lookout for club posters on social media if there is one that you are interested for the coming semester and club recruitment posters around campus during the start of the semester.
During spring semester, the student union at Korea University held a club fair for around a week. Ours was Harry Potter themed (yay!) and you could go around to different club booths, do some fun activities (for the rowing club, they had a competition with rowing machines and people seemed very into it), and learn more about the various clubs on-campus. We also have a student union (학생회관 or “학관” as many students call it) that I only discovered now and not last semester (*insert sad face*). Still, in this building is where most clubs have their own club rooms that club members can go to for meetings or just hang out. It was here that I got introduced to more clubs (including a beading club and a music club).
Choosing a Club
So, you’ve attended a few club fair events, learned about some clubs, and now want to join them? Now I will break down how you can do that!
- Picking which one(s) fits your schedule more – While there are many interesting clubs on campus, you can’t do them all (unless you have lots of energy 24/7 and are superhuman). Thus, you must see which ones you can fit into your schedule while juggling academics and typical exchange student things like traveling. Some may have meeting times that are very late, strict attendance policies, etc. You will have to factor these into your decision on which clubs you want to really join.
- Fees – For most clubs, the entrance fee can range from free to $20 (20,000won or more). Sometimes you can join for free but have to pay a dinner fee (I will explain later) or just pay a joining fee upfront but then keep paying for separate activities or fees (like practice rooms rentals or other things).
- Meetings – Some clubs meet once or twice a week, biweekly, or on a monthly basis. It varies so just be sure to ask or find out when they meet and if you have any conflicts throughout the semester.
- Activities – This also varies from club to club, but sometimes there are fun activities that are available only for club members to join. Make sure to keep an eye out for announcements about them! Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to participate in these things called “MTs” or (club retreats because I joined spring semester and they happen during August), but I wish that I could have joined in. They look pretty fun!
Tip: If you are nervous about not being able to speak Korean well, don’t worry! There is at least one person in your club who can speak English a little bit. Just try your best and people will appreciate your effort and try to help you out 🙂
**KU Specific: 고려대학교 동아리연합회 – https://club.ku.ster.ws/
This is a website link to the list of clubs at Korea University (try finding their instagrams and ask if/how you can join! I wish someone showed me this list earlier! Also the KU Student Union has an Instagram (ku_studentunion) and there is one for the KU Clubs as well (ku_dongyeon – often used for announcing events, club fairs, and other things)
Tip: Be prepared to be in a lot of Kakao group chats. Just be prepared. It’s like GroupMe chats times 2. So many chatrooms….
Afterparties (뒷풀이 문화)
During the 1st round of a 뒷풀이, you pay the basic meal amount (usually 10,000 won or $10) to participate. Then, you start off by getting to know everyone who sits at your table a little better. It is basically a time for introductions, small talk, and finding out what their interests are. Not saying that where you sit matters, but it really DOES matter. There is plenty of time to eat whatever food is at the location that the party is being held at and usually bottles of soju and beer (맥주) are present on the table – with an addition of water.
By now, you have probably learned and played a few drinking games, gotten a little closer to your table mates, and 2 hours have magically flown by. My favorite drinking games that I have learned are Baskin Robbins 31, Orange, The Vinyl Game, and 딸기당근수박참외메론. Usually, the club leader or whoever is in charge of the afterparty will announce around this time that the 2nd round is beginning, so if you need to leave, do homework, or go home, now is the time to do this. If not, you are told that there will be an additional charge for round 2. More festivities. More FM chants. More fun and drinking games ensue. You may even chip a nail like me…somehow…
Goodness. It is probably around 12 or 1am now. The current establishment where the first two rounds were held is about to close so the workers are going around counting and collecting all of the alcohol bottles as you get ready to put on your shoes and head either home or to round 3. If you chose round 3, you are a trooper. I have personally only been to round 3 once before and I will politely never do that again. I left the party at 2am, walked 30 minutes all the way home, got home at 2:30am, and woke up at 6am for a 10am class. I didn’t feel good at all.
However, I did get to know more people from round 3, so I guess it wasn’t all that bad after all. Usually for 3rd round, you move to a different location like to a pub or someplace that is open a lot later. This 3rd round group is also vastly smaller than the first two rounds. Once you arrive to the new location, you either sit with the people that you met at the last rounds or at a new table with new people. Then you order more food and drinks and continue the festivities into the early hours of the night. Since more students live close in the area, they don’t need to take a taxi or subway back home, but – if you live further away – plan accordingly!
Um, I have a feeling that these exist, but have never experienced one before.
Tip: It is a lot easier to have a Korean bank account when it comes to attending afterparties. The reason why is because payment culture here is heavily reliant on bank accounts. With afterparties, a few days after the event is over, you will eventually be added into a Kakao group chat where the leader will add together all of the drinks and food ordered on that night and then divide it by how many people were at each round. The more rounds you go to, the higher the amount is that you will owe and have to pay back. Once they announce how much everyone has to pay, you are required to send a bank wire of the funds to the bank number and account name provided and, once that is done, you can leave the chat. In the club I joined, there were a few exchange students that didn’t have bank accounts so they were instructed to provide the amounts in cash at a later time to the club treasurer. Having a bank account though is more convenient (in my opinion).
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