Last Saturday was a blur of lights and music. As I exited the amusement park where the KB Rapbeat Festival was held, I carefully eased the entry wristband off my hand and tucked it into my pocket. “I’ve never been to a music festival before,” I explained to my friend.
“Keep that, it’ll be a great souvenir,” she replied. “You went to your very first music festival, in a new country, with new friends.”
That sentence summed up the surreality of everything I’ve been doing in my first month in South Korea. Whenever an activity was suggested, we’d always exclaim, “We should do that sometime!” I felt comfortable with the amount of time I had. Compared to my 5-day vacation in Seoul last time, one semester seemed like an eternity. But several “sometime’s” later, I realized that a month of my exchange had already passed.
How do you go from arriving in Seoul with no idea what to do, to having more events than you could possibly attend? I gathered my top tips for finding things to do while on exchange.
- Ask the locals
Locals often have a wealth of information that might be difficult to come across otherwise. My SNU buddy texted me last week with news that a girl group, (G)I-DLE, would be having a mini-performance on campus later that evening. Needless to say, many plans were cancelled.
If you’re out to get those Instagrammable photos, there’s no better place to look than on Instagram itself. I discovered the Ikseon-dong area through others’ photos. The narrow streets of this lovely neighbourhood are lined with beautiful cafes and quaint little shops housed in traditional hanoks.
3) Local tour website
I bought my Rapbeat tickets from an activities ticketing website. Think “Groupon” – not only is it a great source of inspiration for things to do, you might be able to find some discounted tickets as well. It’s an easy one-stop-shop for concerts, day trips, amusement park tickets, cultural experiences, and more.
4) Local apps
If you’re in South Korea, forget Google Maps – you need Naver Map or Kakao Map. A locally popular app will usually contain more accurate information and features that you might not be able to find elsewhere. For example, Naver lets you search and filter restaurants based on famous food TV shows they’ve been on.
I admit to planning dozens of untaken trips with friends back in Canada. The difference is that this time, there’s a deadline – and I’m going to try to make the best of the time I have.