I always thought that U.S. universities put a high emphasis on school spirit with their mascots, cheerleaders, teams, etc. but I’ve never seen anything even close to the spirit Yonsei has. It is UNBELIEVABLE!
Everyone wears their fancy Yonsei jackets through the whole city with much pride and they display their love for the school they go to (students of other universities in Seoul do the same). The most impressive display of school spirit and pride, however, has to be the Akaraka and Cheering Competition. I have never seen students so involved and so happy to be part of a certain university.
In some of my earlier posts I wrote about how Yonsei and Korea University are two main rivals and they have all these amazing cheering songs where they talk about which school is better and how they are going to beat the other school. As part of our international student orientation we had an hour long cheering orientation during which we learned (or tried to learn) all the cheers and dances. It is really hard as the vast majority of the songs are in Korean so it’s very hard to follow. Dance, on the other hand, is much easier to follow as you just do what everyone else is doing.
Recently there was an event hosted in Yonsei University’s outdoor amphitheater – a cheering competition. Unfortunately, most of the exchange students had their Korean language course at this time or hadn’t heard about it at all, so it was only five of us who joined hundreds of Yonsei and Korea University students for an evening of cheering, singing, dancing, and fun. We got to the amphitheater pretty late and there were so many people: half of the amphitheater was all blue, and the other half started turning red. In less than a half an hour after we got there the amphitheater was completely full! It was very easy to spot the Yonsei students wearing blue and Korea University students wearing red. There would be one Korea song and the red half of the amphitheater would sing and dance and then the Yonsei students would get a chance to do the same. It was also fun when the Korea and Yonsei prince dressed in fun traditional looking costumes in the colors of their University talked about all the good things about their University thereby showing how bad the rival University is. All of this is of course just fun and helps students bond; both within the respective universities, but also between the two universities. I had so much fun participating in this event as it is a warm-up for the real cheering competition that will happen in May – Akaraka. I am so looking forward to that! 🙂
Even though the school spirit is on such a high level, the University sports are not that good on this level. Two of my friends and I went to a home basketball game between Yonsei and another Korean university and I was rather surprised to see how few supporters there were and the program was not on the level I would have expected. There were no cheerleaders at all! It was interesting to have this event and cheering competition and to compare them in my mind. We, however, enjoyed a good basketball game!
Now, I’ll leave Yonsei for a while to go and visit an island located about 1.5 hours from Seoul and I am really looking forward to exploring Korea!