Summer is coming, and you may or may not have plans for summer vacation. If you already have an idea where you want to go, it would be great to have some tips for your trip. If you are not sure where to go, Youth Hostel, a Central Club of the University of Seoul (UOS), will be glad to recommend some places to travel. Hopefully you will feel like hitting the road and going on a trip this summer after reading this article.
▲ Cooking competition in Daebu Island
▲ The Candle Ceremony of Youth Hostel
▲ Everyday story and albums of Youth Hostel
Youth Hostel, the Club of Harmony
Youth Hostel may not quite fit the usual notion of a travel club. Contrary to most expectations, Youth Hostel has strict rules when traveling. First, the members are not allowed to spend money privately outside of their group itineraries. The motto of this club is “together” ? no one should feel put off because of money. Secondly, they are forbidden from gambling during a trip. Lastly, they are not permitted to drink. This last rule may seem to remove all the fun from a trip, but that is not a problem for Youth Hostel; they provide so many fun activities that you will not need help from alcohol. The club president, Won-hyuk Im (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, ’14), reassured the UOS students confidently: “We can have fun without alcohol. We can have fun as if we are drunk!”
One of the activities that makes these trips such a blast is what they call “the stunt” ? a short play that helps participants see new aspects of their friends. Some stunts may turn into bawdy fun, with the men dressing as women, for example. At many points throughout these trips, travelers cook their own dishes. Sometimes they have cooking competitions, adding more fun. But beware: losers will have to do the dishes, and this can take as long as two hours with so many dishes to clean. Because of these kinds of events, no one has time to be bored.
Youth Hostel follows a specific process when choosing a place to travel. One of the club members proposes a good region to visit. If the area is approved by club members, they start searching for transportation and places to sleep. The members of Youth Hostel have been keeping detailed travel plans ever since the club began, which helps junior members plan trips by following the seniors’ footsteps. Considering these stern rules, one can easily see that Youth Hostel provides safe fun on a trip.
There is also another positive aspect of Youth Hostel: strong relationships among senior and junior members. There is an annual gathering of all senior and junior members ? the anniversary of Youth Hostel, held on May 16 of each year. This gathering is a time for members to show their affinity for each other. There are also other events to encourage friendship among peers, such as the candle ceremony. On the last day of a trip, each participant lights a candle and talks about the thoughts and feelings he or she has gained from the trip. These could be positive or negative. By saying whatever is on their minds, the members explain, they are able to feel closer to each other.
When they are not on a trip, they write in a notebook in the club room. They call this journal their “everyday story,” and they can write anything at any time in it. It contains anecdotes and pictures drawn by club members, going all the way back to the founding members. They brought out old notebooks dating as far back as the 1980s, saying with amazement, “Wow, this is really old!” The club’s history lives in memories recorded in pictures, travel itineraries, and writings.
Youth Hostel is a union club, meaning that they exchange information and activities with travel clubs at other universities. There are about 30 universities with Youth Hostel clubs in Korea, and members trade tips and gather with groups from these universities. Youth Hostel is present in foreign countries, too. Foreign club members also come to Korea during summer vacations and interact with Korean members by, obviously, traveling together.
▲ Okinawa in February, 2015
▲ Boseong and Damyang
▲ Trip to Suncheon in summer, 2014
Where to Go
Youth Hostel members provided tips and suggested areas to visit. They began with emphasizing the importance of transportation. As experienced travelers, they pointed out that knowing the time table for transportation is crucial to a smooth trip. For instance, if you go to an island, you should be aware of boat schedules. Many members had their own recommended destinations. Some recommended Okinawa as a great place, having visited this February. A trip to Okinawa is relatively cheap as an overseas trip. It has great beaches, and it is a very beautiful island, they emphasized.
Other club members recommended domestic tourism. Hyeon-bin Song (Dept. of Chemical Engineering, ’09) suggested Boseong to Damyang, while Sarah Lim (School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, ’12) named Suncheon as a great place to go. Both members advised that transportation is a very important factor in these trips. Boseong, for example, has poor public transportation service, but if one travels from Damyang, it is much easier to reach. As for Suncheon, there is a garden convention from spring to summer, which Lim said is a wonderful spectacle. She also pointed out that there are many other delights to see in Suncheon.
It was wonderful to interview Youth Hostel members, as if we were enjoying a pleasant chat. The members were agreeable and cheerful, evidence of how enjoyable it would be to travel with them. If you want to feel that energy and convivial atmosphere, visit them and have fun.