As the spring season peaks, we can see the cherry blossoms on campus, and I can imagine the cherry blossoms blooming across the country. More than a month following the COVID-19 outbreak in South Korea, I haven’t had long walking parks. I haven’t visited shopping havens like Daejeon Skyroad or Seoul’s Myeongdong. I haven’t been to a noraebang, and I haven’t been to the gym. It might not be the case for everyone, but I personally prefer to stay in my room most of the time to keep myself safe and healthy.
With these thoughts on my mind, I remembered the activities we had last year that unfortunately we do not have this semester. Since the school decided to cancel all social events, I guess new students are missing the experience, the opportunity to bond with other students, and of course, all the fun! Let me share with you some activities from last year, which KDI School regularly organizes, especially during the Spring Semester. We can categorize them into three types: trips exploring Korean culture, events allowing us to meet new friends, and programs enabling students to showcase their skills and own stories.
KDI school has several activities that introduce Korean culture to foreign students. Spring Semester usually starts after Seollal (Korean New Year). Last year, the dormitory assistants organized a small party to celebrate it and welcome the new students as well.
Towards the end of March last year, we visited the Korean Folk Village in Yongin. Aside from touring around different kinds of houses and watching some cultural shows, we also had the opportunity to either wear Korean traditional clothes for scholars or make Korean rice cakes.
Also, if you are taking a Korean Language class, you would normally have a day organized to visit some museums or tourist spots. Last year, our class visited the Hangeul Museum and the N Seoul Tower in Seoul.
During the break between the Spring and Summer Semesters, the school usually conducts the Korea Field Research Study which is a three-day tour for international students. It includes visits to big Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai and Posco, and several Korean history museums. This tour is a great opportunity not just to get to know Korea better but to relax and spend more time with our friends.
Although almost all activities organized by KDI School encourage socialization, these are the ones that you will have the most opportunity to mingle. Let’s start with the basic class gathering! When we register for our classes at the start of every semester, this is one of the things we look forward to. They are a perfect opportunity for us to bond with our professor and classmates and talk about other things aside from the lessons in class. And of course, who could say no to free food? Sadly, all social gatherings are cancelled this semester, so new students haven’t been able to experience attending class gatherings yet, but don’t you worry because once the virus is totally gone, you surely wouldn’t want to miss one.
Other than academics, students also squeeze clubs and student forum activities into their schedules. These groups help us relax and feel at home once in a while. We have different clubs for our different hobbies and favorite sports, while we also have student forums for different regions of the world.
In relation to clubs and student forums, KDI School held a happy hour party last Spring Semester to encourage students to register and join these groups. It was also a fun afternoon of pizza, chicken and dancing.
One of the best activities of the school is the Korean buddy program where you are paired or grouped with a Korean student depending on the number of registrants. This program encourages students to practice speaking both English and Korean languages. However, the best part is you gain a new friend after the program ends.
Spring Hiking is the most highlighted event in the Spring Semester. It is joined by almost everyone in KDI school including the dean, assistant deans, professors, and almost all students. This is the best time to stretch our bones, bond with our friends, see cherry blossoms, and enjoy a sumptuous meal after the hike.
NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition is an annual global event that KDI School and its students participate in. It challenges students to think like leaders to solve a computer-based simulated game based on “real life” policy problems using actual data, scientific modeling, and educational learning objectives.
Lastly, the talent donation program is organized by the school in cooperation with the city government. KDI students are assigned to elementary or high schools in Sejong to share something about their countries and spend time with some kids.
Currently, it seems that Korea has flattened its curve, yet we all still need to be cautious to help the world heal and get back to our normal lives soon.