This Saturday, after a relaxing hike with Sigma, I took the train into Seoul to tour Seoul-dae (Seoul National University).
Without going into it too much, I am trying to do an informal tour of the SKY university trio before it begins to snow. Some of you might recall that last weekend I went to Yonsei University (연세대학교). This past Saturday I toured Seoul National University (서울대) and next weekend, if the weather permits, I will check out Korea University (고려대학교). So far, I’ve left the campuses fairly happy and motivated.
Founded in 1946, Seoul-dae is ranked as the top school in the country. Here are SNU’s other international rankings (taken from Wikipedia):
- 4th in Asia by the 2012 QS Asian University Rankings
- Seoul National is ranked 20th in the world in publications in a 2008 analysis of data from the Science Citation Index
- 37th in the world by the 2012 QS World University Rankings
- 8th in Asia and 59th in the world by the 2012 Times Higher Education World University Rankings
To get to SNU, take subway line 2 to the Seoul Nat’l Univ station and use exit 3. The campus is not exactly within walking distance from the subway station, so hop on one of the green buses #5511 or #5513 (on the same side of the street as the subway station) and get off at the Seoul National University stop.
As I had heard that the university’s museum had a small collection of puppets, masks and games, I had to take a look. While the collection on display was rather small (only about 5 puppets, 10 masks, and maybe 8 games), I was nonetheless impressed with the quality of the pieces.
There are only three galleries open to the public: the Archaeology & History Gallery, the Traditional Art Gallery, and the Anthropology & Folklore Gallery. The museum features a Wednesday Lecture Series with a lecture given every Wednesday at 2pm in the main auditorium of the building. The museum also holds weekly film screenings during the semester. SNU Museum is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 5pm (the last admission is given at 4:30pm).
All of the buildings are well numbered and are easy to locate using the campus map. English maps are available at the information desk that is located at the Main Gate.
Building 04 (College of Humanities) was open and I decided to peek in and check out the facilities. There was a small coffee shop that sold ₩2,200 lattés! Cheap! You know I indulged… it’s one of the few luxuries that I afford myself (hah! lies!). Anyway, the building was large and clean. Predictably, there were a lot of students inside, studying and working– I mean, this is Korea after all…
I walked to the amphitheater because I heard some drumming… however, it was nothing more than a social practice session. I am not sure which was being practiced more, the drums or soju drinking. Anyway, the field around the amphitheater was well-manicured and it apparently suited a lot of people– families and friends were milling about, picnicking, talking, taking pictures.
I walked back through campus, this time passing by Kyujanggak, a building which was originally founded as a royal library in 1776 by King Jeongjo. The Kyunjanggak is now the site of the Institute for Korean Studies and features 260,000 items relating to Korean history, some of which are designated as UNESCO World Documentary Heritages. The building has survived countless invasions– not to mention colonial rule– and has subsequently been restored and updated. Kyujanggak is open to visitors Monday – Friday from 9:30am-5:30pm.
Before leaving SNU, I stopped by the Museum of Art, which is located between the Office of Admissions and the Main Gate. The building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is a new addition to the campus and is visually impressive and especially modern in its use of light, concrete, and space. A ticket to view the exhibits costs ₩3,000. SNU’s Museum of Art is open Monday – Saturdays from 10:00am – 6:00pm (tickets are sold until 5:30pm).
After spending some time in the art museum (to be honest, I enjoyed the architecture and lighting of the building more than the exhibits contained therein), I caught the bus down to the subway station. I had my sights set on some palak paneer and naan at Cheonan’s popular Indian restaurant, Mt. Fishtail.
Some thoughts on Seoul-dae:
The campus is huge (I only walked 1/3 of it) and it is apparent that they have excellent facilities; SNU reminded me quite thoroughly of a prestigious American research university. Unlike Yonsei, it seemed as though English was a much more commonly utilized language on campus– not to mention that I ran into a handful of Western professors and students while on my unofficial tour. Hell, even the middle-aged barista that made my latté spoke English.
The only drawback, after an initial consideration, was the campus’ location. SNU is farther away from the subway station than I would like. And while the campus is in Seoul, it is not necessarily close to my stomping grounds… although, now that I think about it, it is only 6 subway stations away from the Seoul Arts Center, my new favorite place in S. Korea…. hmm. Another problem, in my view, is that if someone wanted to both work and attend school, it would be difficult to do so due to, again, the campus’ location.
Ultimately, I was happy with my visit and would like to go back again this winter to meet with some professors and see what the university looks like sweatered in snow.