During my sojourn in Seoul, I'll be auditing a course at Yonsei University entitled Traditional Korean Society and Modernization. It traces how Korean society has changed over the last century from the late Chosun Dynasty through the Japanese occupation, the Korea War and rapid post-war industrialization to its present form. I'm hoping this course will serve as my cultural tour guide while I'm here. I have been exchanging emails with the professor for the last month who has warmly welcomed me into the class. He even invited me to give a presentation at the end of the course on any social issue facing Koreans that interests me.
Upon exiting from the Sinchon subway station, I was greeted by this stunning sight.
I was also greeted by the warm smile of the Golden Arches. For my first real meal in Seoul, I had McDonald's of all things! If you know anything about me, you know I treat fast food like most people treat week-old leftovers: I will eat them if I must, but only as a last resort. Well, I was in a hurry and didn't want to be late for my first day of class. To my surprise, the unchanging taste of McDonald's fries was strangely comforting.
It was also comforting to know that I was patronizing an institution that was going green. I ordered a Shanghai Chicken Sandwich with fries and a drink. After finishing my meal, I took my unfinished Diet Coke with me, as I walked toward campus a few blocks away. I finished my drink as the campus came into sight, and I began to look for a trash can for my empty cup, only to realize for the first time that the cup was made of hard plastic. Apparently, McDonald's in Korea doesn't use wax paper cups, but rather plastic cups that they wash and reuse. So on my way back from class, I returned the cup and dropped it in a bin where they collect used cups. It's good to know that Korea is leading the world in areas other than suicide.
The world-renowned Ehwa Womans University ("Womans" is not a typo) is next door to Yonsei, so I HAD to make a visit. Needless to say, the scenery on campus was stunning! Won't you agree?