After coming to Korea, I wanted to meet more people and get involved with a club. What better club to join than HGSU or Hanyang Global Student Union? HGSU is an organization made up of native Koreans, international students, and foreign exchange students who are interested in getting together and creating new friendships. They hold weekly meetings, and most of the time, it involves getting dinner together.
One special event that they have near the beginning of every semester is called membership training. Membership training was a two day event that was scheduled over the weekend. It was a new experience for all the foreigners since membership training is very unique to Korean culture. First, we were told to meet early at the office at 8am. When I arrived, we were given name tags and had to help HGSU load all the food and materials onto the bus. We were not really told in detail about the activities of the membership training. We drove about one and a half hours away to a quiet area outside of the city. There, we had our first activity, which was a cultural experience. We were given fans and paper to decorate. Afterwards, we were moved into a house with a large empty living room, with only one room for the girls and one room for the boys. There were no beds or furniture except pillows, blankets, and a heated floor.
We split up into groups and started a food cooking competition. Each group was given a different food to cook and in the end, the HGSU board judged the foods and picked the winner. The groups made Korean pancakes, pumpkin soup, and spicy ricecakes, all almost completely from scratch.
We then played a game where members from opposite teams were selected and post it notes were stuck to different body parts. The victim could not use his hands to remove them and had to use body movement and shaking to remove the post its, all while being timed.
The last game played was something like charades where four members from each group had to try to guess what the fifth member was acting out. The players were given a Korean phrase and they had to stress each syllable different each time. If they messed up, the game repeated from the beginning.
The night continued with people relaxing, playing outside with fireworks, and some people sleeping. The people who wanted to sleep had to cram into the rooms upstairs. Many of the Koreans were trying to stay up, and they ended up playing pranks on the people sleeping in the living room.
In the morning, we had to pack up and were fed ramen and bread. I got to experience membership training, where the purpose was to loosen up to get to know your fellow members. I think I got to know my members pretty well that weekend, even though I was one of the people who went to sleep.