Songdo (송도), a district of Incheon city, evokes mixed memories of most Yonsei freshmen’s first taste of university life. For some, Yonsei University’s international Campus may evoke images of a lush, ever-growing concrete jungle. While for others, the international campus may solicit cherished memories of their dorm lives. What can be said with certainty, however, is that due to its strict residential college (RC) program, distance from the main campus, and nascent places of interest, the student life at Songdo differs vastly from the life at Sinchon. Sinchon (신촌), which directly translates to “New Town,” ironically hosts the oldest of the three
Yonsei campuses along with a long established shopping and nightlife district. For many Yonsei students who’ve just finished their residential college program, life at the main campus may feel new and exciting. This hardly comes as a surprise given that the huge campus, complete with its own (natural) forest and shuttle system, a bustling population, and the countless nearby restaurants open throughout the night, contrast very starkly from the relatively quiet and close-knit Songdo life that many freshmen are accustomed to. The sense of astonishment can be especially strong for the unprepared such as myself, who returned after a long military-service hiatus immediately following a year at the Songdo. Although it would be mistaken to generalize all students’ experiences, the following insights on the key differences of Yonsei’s Sinchon and Songdo campus lives may provide some aid for those who wish to make a smooth transition from one campus to another.
The number-one palpable difference between Songdo and Sinchon is the student body. At the International Campus, the overwhelming majority of the students are freshmen who are somewhat in similar situations and equally budding. Moreover, most of the students one runs into on-site belong to the same class year, and these very people become both classmates and dormitory buddies: exactly the intent of the RC’s “integration of living & learning” motto. However, one will quickly realize that the sense of intimacy which defines Songdo campus is hard to come by at the Sinchon campus. At the Sinchon campus, classmates tend to scatter far and wide once the clock strikes the hour, sophomores compete in classes in which many are seniors, and the campus as a whole is teeming with a population the size of a small village. Some may find the sudden change in conditions to be challenging for both their academic and social lives. Yet the shift is not all negative; the seniors who initially seemed like tough competitors can end up broadening one’s understanding of the subject with thought-provoking remarks in class and even becoming helpful mentors. The larger student body also provides opportunities for students to gather up the courage to make unique friendships outside of their freshmen-level comfort zone.
Without the comfort of nearby dormitory rooms, Sinchon students often seek new comfortable places to delve into books (since college is all about finding the right balance between partying and studying). The most convenient place for students to stop by is the Central Library. The Central Library offers has its own set of quiet rooms, cozy bean bag chairs, no-reservation desks, and the studious atmosphere. It is a good, reliable pit stop to recharge before heading off to another class. Exclusive to UIC students, the second-floor study halls of Daewoo Annex Hall are also great options. Newly fashioned this year, the study halls may not offer an environment as comfy as the dorm rooms, but it is still welcoming towards those who seek a place to focus on whatever the task at hand. However, it should be noted that due to the awareness that many of these places can populate quickly and students may not always be able to secure a seat. Aside from study settings, incoming sophomores should also be prepared for new workloads. For many UIC students, Sinchon marks the start of major-related studies. The course loads will be tougher and topics will be more specific, thus it may prove useful to acquire familiarity with relevant subject matter beforehand.
Extracurriculars and Recreational Activities
Many international campus students may have felt that, although the after-school life is vibrant at Sinchon, it was tarnished by the long travel times for the return trip to Songdo. With this burden now out of the way, incoming Sinchon students can now enjoy the vibrant after-school life unhindered. If one desires the full-fledged Sinchon experience, the best way is through participating in club activities (like those in The UIC Scribe for example). Whether one’s focus is in academics or in improving their alcohol tolerance, there are copious amounts of main campus clubs from which students can choose from. For students who are in need of new ways to socialize at such an immense campus, joining clubs is a great method. There are also numerous restaurants, themed cafés, and other places of entertainment in the Sinchon area that can be explored alone or with a group of friends to provide temporary relief from workload stress.
Since the majority of students at Sinchon do not reside on campus, arriving to class on time will be crucial to their new schedule. Luckily, Sinchon is intricately connected to many public transportation options: the Sinchon metro station or bus stops near Yonsei University and Ewha University give students at least a few options for commuting. Be warned, however, that many of the routes leading up to the campus prohibit taxis, particularly the route from Sinchon Station to the main gate. There is also an on-campus shuttle that students may be very appreciative of when find themselves having to go from one end of campus to the other in between classes.
Regardless of how one feels when encountering the Sinchon campus for the first time, there are noticeable differences which require some time to get accustomed to. Many will agree that the topics listed here are only a few of the many challenges that lie ahead for freshmen eager to join in on the Seoul-portion of Yonsei life. Students will no doubt encounter and later reminisce about many unique experiences and struggles regarding university life that hasn’t been mentioned in the article. This is unsurprising after all, for Yonsei is “where we make history” and most of one’s history remains unwritten.