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My Beautiful and Interesting Life at Dongguk University and in KoreaExperiences and some know-hows to live in Korea
Peace, prosperity, culture, technology, literature, and entertainment are a few things that click to mind while listening to a word “Korea.” In the recent era, Korea has reached its zenith in all the aforementioned fields. Korea is the land of picturesque high mountains, large swathes of terrains, and clear waters. In his famous book “Choson,” Percival Lowell has sketched it as the land of morning calm because of its splendid tranquility, particularly in the morning. Demographically, it is a peninsula, called Hanbando in indigenous language Hangeul, with North Korea, the staunch rivals of South Korea, at one end and sea water all around. Seoul is the capital and the largest metropolis of Korea. It is believed that 20 percent of Korea’s population inhabits in Seoul. When combined with surrounding cities of Incheon and Gyeonggi, Seoul is the world’s largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million inhabitants. Since the inception of Korean peninsula, Seoul has become the center of literature, science, technology, and culture. Only the capital area contains five UNESCO world heritage sites named as, Jongmyo shrine, Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Namhansanseong, and the royal tombs of Joseon Dynasty. It is surrounded by Mountain Bukhan, one of the most visited national parks in the world. The splendid beauty of Seoul is a magnet for tourists from all over the globe which makes it the world’s tenth most visited city and sixth largest earner in tourism. Seoul also is the economic hub of Korea and the fourth largest growing economy after Tokyo, New York City, and Los Angeles. It has the largest transportation system in the world and Seoul subway has the world’s largest and safest subway network which runs in every nocks and corners of Seoul. Life in Dongguk University Seoul is also a home to the top ranked universities in the globe. Amongst a few of them, Dongguk is a private Buddist based university established in 1906 by Buddist philanthropists. For students like me who have already studied in religion based universities like International Islamic University Islamabad, which is one of the largest international universities in Pakistan based on Muslim ideology, Dongguk University was an easy catch. Besides Seoul, it runs its multiple campuses in Gyeongju city, north Gyeongsang province, and in Los Angeles. Dongguk University lies in the Jung-gu district of Seoul, which is the heart and the center of Seoul. It has a very spacious building which is linked with the Namsan park and hiking track which leads the hikers to the alluring Namsan/Seoul tower. It is connected with the Incheon international airport, which is ranked as world’s best airport nine years in a row, via Seoul subway on line three and four. Subway line three opens at Chongmuro station and connects to the rear gate of the university while Dongguk university stop on line four opens inside the university. Furthermore, international students could exploit the services of airport limousine to arrive at the destination. University has two main dormitory buildings, the main Namsan residence hall and Chungmuro dormitory. Namsan residence hall is attached to the main university building. Unlike most of the western universities, the dormitory has separate buildings for male and female students where each room is shared by two students. It is attached to a spacious cafeteria, food court, coffee shop, convenience store, internet lounge, and fitness center on the ground floor. It also has a lobby room for a light chatter with friends during night. Per semester dormitory fee is around 1400 USD. The point to ponder is that dormitory does not offer kitchen facility for students to cook. Hence, vegetarian and Muslim students could rent a room in the vicinity of the university if they want to cook their own stuff. The first thing to do for an international student is to get a multipurpose student ID card. There are two ways to apply for an alien card, a formal resident card for immigrants; one is to apply from the university via international student affairs section or directly visiting Seoul global center immigration office. The university also has a franchise of Korea’s Shinhan bank and a post office in the university from where one could send mail and packages via priority mail service, money transfer, and express mail services such as EMS, DHL, and UPS. It is inevitable for international students to have a health insurance, and thankfully university has provided a health promotional center to take care of student’s petty health issues for free. University also provides convenient facilities such as bookstore, stationary store, Burger king, photo studio, photocopy shop, optical shop, and hair salon. Koreans have a very rich language and culture and it is essential for an international student to have a know-how of Korean language and culture for their survival in Korea. To resolve the issue, university has designed a buddy program where each international student is matched with a Korean Chingu (friend) who helps him understand the rules of the game. Besides, some philanthropist Korean students organize Haram Korean language classes for international students on every Saturday in the campus. These programs help international students to settle in Korean environment quickly and to participate actively in local events without any trouble. Life in Seoul, Korea LG, Olleh, KT, and SK telecom are the prominent telecom service provider networks in Korea. Contemporarily, Korea is running on 4G LTE technology, one of the most advanced in the world. Wifi network is not only available on campus but almost all over the Seoul. Mobile market located in Yongsan is one of the biggest mobile markets in Seoul which caters the needs of a lot of international customers. Like most of the Asian states, Korea also has four seasons, summer, winter, autumn and spring. Summer is hot and humid and the maximum temperature in summer rises to about 33 degree Celsius. Winter, on the other hand, is dry and cold with snow and cold Siberian wind falls the temperature to about -10 degree Celsius. Korea’s flamboyant autumn with red leaves scattered every where and alluring spring with yellow and white cherry blossom flowers make Korea to be a heaven on earth in these two seasons. In spring and autumn Namsan park, which is adjacent to Dongguk, becomes the site of attraction for people all over the Seoul who visit the park to explore the beauty of nature. Every year, millions of tourists flock to Seoul for shopping. International students at Dongguk consider themselves very lucky because the university is located in the center of Seoul and very near to city’s main shopping sites. Dongdaemun, the largest whole sale and retail market of Korea, is hardly two kilometers away from the university. If you want to buy good and cheap goods, then Dongdaemun is highly recommendable. Myongdong, again only one kilometer away from the university, is famous among youngsters and has many international brand outlets, while Sinchon is a magnet to university and school student shoppers. Namdaemun market, named after Namdaemun gate near Myongdong, is also very famous among international community for shopping. But, the most used shopping tool among Korean and international students in Korea is online shopping. There are many shops online that provides variety of stuff in cheap rates. Besides, some international students exploit the services of facebook pages like “Seoul Buy and Sell” and “Craiglist” to buy and sell their stuff while leaving from Korea. The most eminent place for international community in Seoul is Itaewon. It is the jagular vein of all the international cultures in Korea. It is home to many international restaurants and community centers. It also has the largest mosque in Korea where Muslims all over the Korea gather every Friday for their weekly congregational prayers. Hongdae and Itaewon are two of the most glamorous places in Korea for night life. Because of emphatic hard work of students and professors, Dongguk University is improving its international ranking day by day in research and development. University’s research centers, like Millimeter Wave Innovation Technology research center (MINT), Nano Information Technology Academy (NITA) and many more, are of international significance in global research and development. The university provides eminent scholarships to the student from all over the globe for masters and PhD under SRD scholarship program. All the professors and instructors at the university are very kind and hardworking, putting Dongguk university one step closer to its ultimate destiny of being the best in the business. In a nutshell, Dongguk University provides every facility international students requires at the bare minimum. The central location of the university combined with peaceful Korean weather provides the required freshness to a researcher’s brain. In short, life at Dongguk University is fraught with knowledge, peace, fulfillment, exploration, and entertainment.

Hassan Rana  a.hassan.rana@gmail.com

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