Picture this – sitting along a street, eating and drinking in a tent using a cardboard box as a table. The air is thick with the sound of merriment and the smell of hot, freshly made street food. Behind you, many others are also gathered around cardboard boxes, talking and laughing with their friends.
For a few days at the end of May, the campuses of universities in Korea are transformed into a festival ground – with numerous stores set up by student clubs selling anything from mixed cocktails to street food and festival t-shirts.
The festivals are a way for students to celebrate after completing their mid-term examinations, as well as an outlet for them to let off stress before the final examinations coming up in June.
At Yonsei University, where I was an exchange student for the spring semester, the main road – Yonsei-ro – was transformed into a festival ground, with numerous tents lining the sides.
Throughout the day, there were performances at different areas of the campus.
As the day progresses, the festival activities get increasingly more lively. After sunset, more and more people gather at the festival grounds, sitting inside tents eating and drinking on cardboard boxes.
The university festival in Yonsei usually goes on for 3 days – and it ends with AKARAKA, a concert which showcases Yonsei school spirit and school pride.
<This is a video a student filmed of Akaraka where you can see how Yonsei university students enjoy the festival :)>
However, due to the Sewol ferry tragedy, this year’s AKARAKA was not held directly after the May festival but postponed to the end of June.
On the day that AKARAKA was held, the school’s amphitheater was filled with students donning shirts in varied shades of blue (Yonsei’s school colour) in the late afternoon. The atmosphere in the air was electric, and I, along with my friends, were on our feet throughout the concert, dancing and cheering along to the school cheers the entire time!
As for the concert portion of AKARAKA, Kpop artistes were invited to perform, and everyone in the amphitheater was enthusiastically singing along to all the songs. It was a great experience and one that I really treasure as an exchange student in Korea.
The school pride and spirit present in Korean universities are really infectious and despite being an exchange student that has only spent a semester at Yonsei University, I really feel that I am part of the school.
Are there any similar school festivals in your home country? Do leave a comment below and let me know!
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