All posts by Ismo Cavén

안녕하세요 [annjong hasejo] (Hello) from Seoul!

This has been really interesting trip to Seoul South Korea! I have gotten many new friends from all over the world. I’m not sure where should I start telling about this trip but let’s begin with the first impression.

It was really hot in the late summer (around 33 degrees celsius) and the air was quite thick. Now that autumn has advanced further it’s more like back in Finland since it’s around 5-10 degrees. So a coat is the word of the day. I study in  Soongsil University which is apparently quite well known place here and also one of the oldest too. The school has quite young organization that handles with exhange students, us, called SISO. It has offered us interestinf excursions around the town and also helped with several general things. If there’s anything wrong, one should contact them or one’s “buddy”, who is practically your tutor.


Studying is a little bit different. Mornings aren’t so early as in Finland, but lessons that are really late aren’t that absurd thing here. I have just a couple of lessons per each day but still my Wednesday’s last classes end at 20:45. Asian people are known to be really hard working and it can be experienced in some cases. Exams are quite big, though not impossible, and in some courses you advance really fast. For some who like procrastinating it might cause some trouble, but nothing overwhelming. Presentations are also really popular here so when coming here on should get ready for them. Yea it’s a bit hard every now and then but now that I look at it I can say I haven’t done that much work. A LOT less than in Finland at least.

Studying here is mostly just like in Finland: presentations, using of intranet, same kind of construction in education system, nice campus and friendly students and teachers. Of course there’s some differences such as the pace of studying which is more intense than in Finland. Another point that is different is the studying itself; you have to learn what a book says about something rather than understanding the main point and using your own head. I’ll give an example: In exam there’s a question “Explain why car crashed”, you answered something about bad tires, wet ground and not paying attention to driving. In result you get zero points because the book said the driver might be sleeping while driving. Kind of weird right? But as said, everyone manages mostly just fine.


Because of quite easy timetable I have had a lot freetime. There’s many ways to spend your day in Seoul! You can go and visit a PC cafe for some awesome latest games with a top notch internet connection. You can go to grab a coffee wtih your friends in one of the several cafés or go just exploring the city which hides interesting places here and there which can’t be seen from a map. You can go outside the city to climb a low mountain (400-900 meters high) and see an amazing view over the city. One option is to visit other towns of South Korea, which is easy thanks to public transportation. Then there’s the obvious: go sightseeing. There’s many places to see here. Suraksan mountain, Olympic stadium, all the temples, Bukhansan mountain and National graveyard just to name a few!

bukhansanEveryday life here is quite easy-going since billiard clubs, coffee houses and karaoke bars are everywhere just like normal grocery stores. Noodles are cheap and delicious not to mention all the local cuisines that also are quite cheap. Nightlife is quite active everyday since the humongous amount of bars and pubs and clubs, though the nightlife of Seoul is concetrated to three places: Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam.

As said, this is quite an experience and I’m glad I decided to come but I have to say I’m starting to miss Finland too. It’s ages since I went to a proper sauna.