Every spring at Yonsei University, the Akaraka festival takes place. It’s best known for the Akaraka concert, which features the school’s famous cheering culture and many of the country’s most popular pop bands and singers. It begins on a Tuesday and ends Thursday night, which basically means it’s a three-day festival on campus. I was not ready for what was in store as there is nothing like this that I’ve ever experience at home in the U.S because it’s a school sponsored fair complete with a trampoline, rides, food/alcohol stands, stages, performances, etc. During the day it’s eating and drinking and at night it’s drinking and dancing. The mentor’s club (the group that organizes events for exchange students) had DJs and sold food the first night, basically making a small club on campus for everyone. It was absolutely insane, Korean drinking and party culture is much like in America except that some parts are much more conservative but some are much more liberal and open--like this, for instance.
I thought that was it but the next night was the same except with more stages and DJ’s, fireworks but also lanes and lanes of people eating, drinking, and making merry. I was seriously not ready for this, as I was not expecting the festival to be this fun. If you didn’t like one stage’s music you could go to the next and the genres varied from pop, house, rock, etc so there was basically no way you could not be satisfied. The third night was the concert with all the famous artists and the hall was absolutely packed--I mean the magnitude of students wearing blue was insane and everyone was in sync. Being a foreign student was kind of a bummer since we didn’t know any of the lyrics to any of the songs (except Spy) and we were really hoping he’d be there this year since he made an appearance last year, but alas, he could not make it. Some of the acts that were featured in the concert were Girls Generation, YB, Park Yin Young, Drunken Tiger, etc. all very big names in Korea. Despite that it was incredibly fun and amazing to be part of a crowd that big, to be part of a concert that was actually a really big deal in South Korea and especially that it was a part of our University’s agenda. Yonsei is seen as a really big deal here: whenever you tell a local that you attend Yonsei, even as an exchange student they assume you’re incredibly intelligent because it’s one of the top schools in not just the nation but also all across Asia.
At the end of the three days of nonstop festival, the next day was actually Buddha’s birthday, a national holiday in Korea. So basically this was THE week for students to let loose at Yonsei; the school spirit and pride is absolutely bombastic, and being a Yonsei Eagle is a really big deal and something to be incredibly proud of. Even if it’s only one semester, I’m ready to call myself an eagle for life because this experience has been so foreign and remarkable, I cannot explain how glad I am I chose Seoul as my study abroad, as it’s an experience I will treasure forever.