Sunday, May 19, 2013

60. Spring Festivals

60. Every spring semester around this time, all the universities in Korea have festivals. I have no idea why they have them, but I kind of get the feeling they are like our homecoming festivities...minus football ...plus lots and lots of booze, ok well that is the same too. Actually, I've heard that one of the purposes to have festivals is for other students from other universities to visit different campuses. Not sure if this is true, but it makes sense. The festivals usually last about 3 days and the last day is usually the biggest because they usually have a huge concert. And these are usually big name artists, so it's definitely worth making it out to a couple festivals. Though the concert may not be completely free, it is cheap.

Last year when I was in Pohang, I actually went to the local university's festival without knowing what it was. There were a few international food stands, games, and music. Since I didn't know what it was, nor that they were going to have a concert, I didn't think much of it, so I left pretty early.

Now that I know more about them, I decided to go to a couple. This last week I went to Seoul National University's festival to check it out and hang out with Ana and Bénédicte. I had heard that SNU's festival wasn't all that great, but I still went to at least see it on my own. Unfortunately, I have to agree that it wasn't all that great ...it was awful to be honest. SNU is a pretty big university, it's part of the 'Ivy League' SKY universities, so I was expecting some sort of greatness, boy was I wrong.

When we got to the main lawn, there was no concert ...not even a DJ ...not even someone's iPod plugged in to speakers. There were people sitting on the lawn drinking, but it was all mainly young guys staring at the screen on stage, yes at least they had a stage. On that stage there were about 10 computers where 10 people were playing wait for it... Starcraft .... smh! Really? Really SNU?? This is your idea of fun? I mean I guess to each his own, but I cannot understand how this can be considered entertainment. Nope. Granted, that was one day out of the three, but Ana had mentioned that the day before it wasn't great either. So boo you SNU!

The next day we decided to crash Yonsei's festival, another SKY university. A friend had told us that it was supposed to be really good. Unfortunately we made the big mistake of going to a baseball game on the other side of town so by the time we got to Yonsei it was over. Big fail!

So, so far I haven't been successful with this whole festival thing. However, this coming week is my university's festival, hooray! I think I'll be able to attend all three days, or at least the big concert day. The artists scheduled to perform are Benzino, the Korean one, not the American one, and Verbal Jint; I have no clue who they are, but many of my students are excited to see them.

**UPDATE: I tried, I really did. At least I did make it to the grounds and had a few drinks ...ok, too many drinks. And then the dreaded soju devil *in Sweet Brown's voice* got me ...I got bronchitis! OK not really,but ain't nobody got time for soju anymore ...nope, not this girl.

But I did find out why universities hold festivals, or at least why MY university does. So when we (coworkers and I) were walking towards the school, many girls had signs, were wearing cute outfits and were cheering trying to get people to go to their department stand. The point of this is to go to their stand so you can buy drinks and food so that each department raises money.

And just for fun...

61. Hangover drinks ...cuz we will all need them at some point during these festivals.

I'm not sure whether I've talked about the drinking culture here in Korea, but if you think Americans drink too much, Koreans beat us by far. Their home spirit, soju, will get you drunk faster than you can say annyeonghaseyo (hello in Korean), each bottle costing about a dollar fifty. It' very common to drink at almost any event, even if it's a simple work dinner. I won't get into the details of peer pressure, or more like hazing, from bosses, but it is very real and common.

My point is that drinking is an enormous part of the daily life here, so of course Koreans have these little miracle pre-drinking drinks to avoid bad hangovers. Each little bottle costs more than a bottle of soju, at about five bucks each ...oh soju, why you so cheap?! You are supposed to drink two before drinking and maybe another one before going to bed ...if you can remember to do so. I tried drinking them a couple months ago, but I can't really say whether they worked or not. The next day I didn't have a headache, I was only really really tired; so maybe the drinks did help with avoiding a headache only. I haven't tried them again since, and I don't plan to ...too expensive! Water can be just as good if you remember to drink it before going to bed.

Peace!

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