This article first appeared in BTS Issue 4.
KAIST International Summer School (Kiss) at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST): An annual summer programme hosted by KAIST, KISS emphasises interdisciplinary studies, crossing over a variety of subjects primarily related to science, engineering, and design. Students from Korea and abroad experience innovative teaching and a blend of cultures in the programme, a unique opportunity that interlaces a tapestry of academic exchange.
By Natasha Koh Bin Rou, Junior (Class of 2021)
Engineering Product Development (EPD)
One benefit you can get as a KAIST student is to kayak for free at the Gapcheon River and it is only 15 minutes away from school! Just present your student ID to them and you are good to go! As you walk from the school to the river, you will pass by huge, colorful flower fields as well.
Can you believe that this samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) was bought from the school cafeteria? Of course I knew the food in Korea was going to be good but never was I expecting the school food to be as good as well! The school food was really affordable, usually ranging from S$2-6.
Being thoughtful, the inter-relations team from KAIST planned many cultural activities for us during the weekends. One of them was letting us don traditional Korean costumes, known as hanbok, and roam the streets for two hours. Shopping and eating while dressed in a hanbok was definitely an experience to remember.
Another cultural activity was letting us attend a cooking class and learn how to make our very own bibimbap! It was really fun cooking with the other international students, we even got competitive and tried to see who could make the prettiest and tastiest bibimbap!
Have you tried bowing 108 times in one sitting to show prostration, a gesture used in Buddhist practice to show reverence to the Triple Gem (the Buddha, his teachings and the spiritual community)? How about staying a night in a temple and having a communal open shower? KISS included a temple stay for us and to make things better, it was not just any temple. It is a temple called Magoksa and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We usually end school by late afternoon so after class, we will visit famous attractions in Daejeon. This was taken at the highest point of Daejeon, Daedong Sky Park. Unlike Seoul Tower where there are tons of tourists, Daedong Sky Park is not known to many so you can enjoy the scenery in peace.
Of course, we cannot leave out fried chicken when we talk about Korea. For dinners, we will eat outside school and fried chicken with beer (chimaek) was always our top choice. It usually comes with free flow of side dishes like kimchi, salad, chips and pickled radish. Looks delicious right?
During the weekends, we will travel to nearby cities to play. I wanted to visit Busan during one of the weekends and thankfully, I managed to find other international students who were willing to join me. It was a short 3-day 2-night trip but many fond memories were made with new friends.
The KISS programme allowed us to experience innovative teaching that broadens our cultural perspectives and intellectual horizons while building lifelong relationships with students from different backgrounds, and enjoying summer in the most unique way. Throughout my stay at KAIST, we were well taken care of and had many activities planned for us to learn more about Korean culture amidst my daily classes for the two modules that I took, ‘Korean’ and ‘Big Data and Language’.
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