From Thursday until Sunday I was in Seoul, Korea, as part of my Japanese seminar class. All the third year students were put into groups and we had to do presentations related to economics. Unfortunately, out of the 3 groups in my class, only one of us was chosen to do take part in the presentation seminar in Korea and my group wasn’t chosen. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as it meant that I had more time shop and do some sightseeing instead of practising our presentation if we had been chosen.
We left on Thursday morning and arrived in Seoul at around 3pm. A tour guide and coach were waiting for us when we got out of the airport, and we were taken to a duty free shopping centre. Ayaka and I decided that we were going to do some serious shopping so we only looked around, checking out the prices before buying anything – we signed up to join a shopping tour the next day so we thought it would be good to buy things then.
After shopping, we returned home and went out to eat as a group. Everyone was so hungry but it didn’t take long for us to find a restaurant near our hotel. Nobody could really speak Korean so there was a lot of pointing and hand gestures. One of our group members really tried to speak Korean using the phrasebook and it seemed to work as there was enough food for all of us. The food was DELICIOUS!! The first dish was so spicy that I practically ate half of it as nobody else could take the heat!
The grilled meat that followed was sooooo tasty! I could have eaten it forever!!
Dinner was followed by a trip to the casino! I’ve never been to one before so it was a new experience. I played some slot machines and actually won some money, but it was only £2/3 that I won. Still, it was something!
The following day we were allowed to make our own plans and do what we wanted. The day before, the tour guide offered some packages which only me and Ayaka signed up for. The first tour package included breakfast and lunch, as well as the coach that took us to two shopping centres – in total it cost 500 yen which is a bargain for two meals and transport. Breakfast was a sushi roll that still warm when we ate it!
We then stopped off to look at some old historical buildings. Many of these buildings have been featured in loads of Korean dramas apparently.
For lunch we ate Bibimbap at a restaurant on the basement floor of a hotel. It was really filling and you were able to buy jars of the kimchi that was served with the meal, and I bought one!
In the afternoon, we signed up for another tour package which also included going to the same shopping centres, as well as dinner and going to a beauty spa. But before the second tour started, we had time to spare so we looked around and did some window shopping.
We got a bit hungry and thirsty so we tried some interesting drinks and bought Korean pancakes (Hotteok) before making our way to a hotel where the second tour started.
Having done our research (i.e. checking out the prices earlier on that day, and the day before) we knew what we wanted to buy and which shopping centre was cheaper. I bought loads of souvenirs to take back, such as seaweed chocolate, and seaweed – both of which are very Korean souvenirs apparently.
Afterwards we headed for dinner, which was like yakiniku – you cook the meat yourself and you can wrap it in lettuce that you eat with rice and soup. Another satisfying meal!
The beauty salon wasn’t too far from the restaurant so we got there in no time. I didn’t manage to take any photos but it was nothing like I’ve experienced before. You go into various saunas and baths, then you are scrubbed down by these beauticians who then massage oil into your skin, then wash your hair. It was the weirdest experience ever. But my body is so clean now! All the dead skin has been scraped off!!
The next day was presentation day which was held at Ehwa Women’s University. The campus of this university is so beautiful and it’s really high-tech. The buildings are gorgeous and there’s just so much space!
After the presentations we all headed out for dinner, which was all-you-can-eat. For about £8 you could grill as much meat as you like and the drinks were unlimited. It was AMAZING!! Since we had to leave the hotel at 4.30am for the airport the next day, many of us just stayed up all night and continued going to different bars and clubs. I was pretty tired after the meal so I headed back and managed to get some sleep.
Overall, it was an amazing trip. I didn’t get much sight-seeing done but I’d definitely like to go back since the food is so cheap and delicious, and the clothes are really cute and affordable. It was a great experience listening to all these different presentations and I’m so lucky that I had the opportunity to go. It turns out that this weekend, my group and the other group that didn’t present in Seoul, will be presenting at Keio University in Tokyo this weekend!
Thanks for reading!!