The Study Abroad Newsletter

Feeling the Korean Spirit

Brenna Usher
Korea University, South Korea

안녕하세요! (An-nyeong-ha-saeyo!) Hello! I had the pleasure of studying abroad in South Korea’s capital city, Seoul, during the 2016-2017 school year. As someone who grew up in Hilo’s small community on the Big Island, it was amazing living in a fast-paced, highly populated city for the frst time in my life. Seoul was a city of total convenience from their 24/7 food delivery services and cheap food options to their easily accessible bus and subway transportation systems.

Brenna Usher with friends The event that truly stood out for me though was all due to living in a densely populated city of almost ten million people with a large number of universities throughout the city to match. Because there are so many universities in Seoul, university pride has naturally arisen as well. Korea University in particular is known for their rivalry with another high ranking university in Seoul called Yonsei University. A major sports competition known as the Korea – Yonsei Games, shortened in Korean to 고연전 (ko-yeon-jeon), developed from this friendly rivalry and now takes place every fall semester as a way for students to get excited and show their school spirit. The competition consists of five different games centered around a different sport for each school to prove themselves against each other including baseball, basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and soccer. A few weeks before the games even begin, the school’s cheerleading squad holds a giant cheering orientation for freshmen, exchange students and those who just want to brush up on the dozens of chants and dance moves that all the students will perform during each of the five games to get excited and cheer on their school’s team. One of the chants I remember particularly was even called “Yonsei Chicken.”

It was incredible to go to the baseball game first and see this giant sea of red, Korea University’s school colors, on one side and blue, Yonsei University’s school colors, on the opposite side of the stadium moving in unison to their own cheers. Cheering at the games was particularly fun since, even if you did not know who you were standing next to, as long as you were wearing red in support of our school they would put their arms around your shoulder and just cheer their heart out showing a strong sense of school pride and unity within. Although cheering remained ferce throughout the week of games, after the final game had been played, no matter who won, we invited our Yonsei friends back to our campus’s town where we would all laugh, eat, and cheer together. The streets were so crowded that you had to make a human train with your friends just to make sure that no one got left behind. It felt totally crazy, but the best experience.