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Research Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen Blogs and Postcards

Experience PNU Summer School

Natascha Lüger
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It's a scary thought for sure: leaving your home to visit a foreign country that's thousands of miles away, especially if you can't read, let alone speak the language. Yet that's what I've always wanted to do, having had in interest in East Asian countries and their cultures for years. And so, when I heard that the University of Groningen offers a summer school programme at Pusan National University in South Korea, I knew I had to go.

Although the application process for the programme and the journey to Korea's second largest city, Busan, were a bit rocky, I was filled with excitement upon arrival. This was the best opportunity for me to learn about the country, the culture and the language with like-minded people. We were given rooms to stay in at the university's dormitory, which we shared with another student, and were assigned to small groups for our activites outside of class. Each group had a buddy“, a local student of PNU, who guided us through the three-week-long programme. This system made it easy for me to meet and connect with other students instantly, so I didn't have to worry about having to explore Busan on my own.

The gist of the programme looked like this: For four days a week, we attended two three-hour-classes, one of which was the Korean language class, the focal point of the programme. It gave an easy introduction to ν•œκΈ€ (Hangul, the Korean alphabet) as well as the very basics like numbers and greetings. Meanwhile, the other classes such as culture, calligraphy, K-pop dance and cooking showed us students aspects of Korea's interesting culture in a fun and interactive way.
When we didn't have classes, we had time to explore Busan either by ourselves, in our assigned groups or on the programme's four scheduled field trips. The weekends were completely free for us to fill with activities, too, so that we were given plenty of time to spend in the city. I would recommend using this time to go to places such as the Gamcheon Culture Village, Nampo-dong and Haeundae. The latter, which is one of Busan's plenty beach areas, would have to be my favourite part of the whole trip.
Overall, I enjoyed this trip and programme a lot, and would definitely recommend it to other students. When the three weeks came to an end I was sad to go and leave the city and the people I've met. While the programme was unorganised and felt chaotic at times, the organisers and buddies that were helping us students put a lot of effort into making the programme as enjoyable and thorough as possible, which made the whole thing a fun and valuable experience. If you have an interest in Korean culture or just want to go abroad for a bit, the PNU summer school is a great opportunity to do so!

Last modified:12 September 2018 5.32 p.m.