MEMBERSHIP TRAINING(MT) is a retreat or small trip organized by a company, school, club or group where the members of the group break the ice and connect with each other. For students looking to make the most of their university experience, it is a rite of passage and a chance to make new friends. However, not everyone considers it a necessary milestone for a fulfilling university life. To give some insight into what MTs mean to university students, The Yonsei Annals asked Yonsei University students about their most memorable MT experiences.
Jeong Ji-hye (Sr., Dept. of Russian Language & Lit.)
“I have gone to many MTs for my major and extracurricular activities, but I enjoyed the prayer meeting MT I went to when I was a freshman the most. At that time, I didn’t have many Korean friends because I had lived overseas for most of my life, so I signed up for the MT to meet people who had a similar religious background or way of thinking as me. I made a lot of life-long friends who truly support and understand me during that trip, which showed me that MTs can be a good way for students to find life-long friends and strengthen the “sunbae-hoobae*” relationship. If you’re curious, it is worth going at least once to see if it is something you enjoy. However, I don’t think MTs are guaranteed to help you make true friends or have a good time. MTs in Korea rely heavily on alcohol, which can be dangerous for people who are drinking for the first time and don’t know their limits yet. That is why a lot of accidents tend to happen during MTs. To be honest, friendships made under the influence of alcohol rarely last and while MTs can be a precious part of our college memories, missing out on them rarely have negative consequences.”
Hung Hoi Yu Krysti (Soph., International Commerce)
“My most memorable MT experience was my tennis club MT in Eurwangni Beach. It was my first MT with students from other majors, and it was just like what I had heard Korean MTs were like. I remember playing a lot of drinking games, going swimming in the ocean at 2 a.m., and walking back to the house barefoot. As an international student, it wasn’t something that I had ever imagined myself doing. That trip helped the club members become friends, which is why I think MTs are a necessary part of any Yonsei student’s university experience. Whether they have the time of their lives or not, I’m sure many will be glad to have at least tried it.”
Park Jun-hee (Soph., Dept. of Social Welfare)
“The most memorable MT experience I’ve had is the winter MT organized by the College of Social Sciences Band Eo-ul-lim. We rented a party room in Songdo and pulled an all-nighter drinking a lot of alcohol, eating greasy food, and playing board games. We bonded because we talked openly about everything, from our final exams to the songs we have always wanted to perform on stage. There weren’t any special events, but it was the most lighthearted trip I have ever gone to. Not only was it the reward for a hard semester of studying, but I also got to know my fellow club members in a more casual setting. While I don’t think MTs are essential for a great university experience, it’s a refreshing way to relieve stress, as long as you keep an open mind and stop worrying about making mistakes.”
Nam Da-young (Jr., Dept. of Dentistry)
“While I have been to many MTs, the one that stands out the most is the one I took during the summer. Because of the heat, our student club organized a trip full of outdoors activities involving water, like water gun fights. We also had fresh watermelon and barbecue. It was so memorable because I was having so much fun. Time seemed to fly, and I made great memories with the people I went there with. I was already friends with them, but I felt like I got to know them better. For me, that’s what MT is all about. It can be a chance for people to connect even with strangers, but it’s mainly a trip to spend time with friends. I don’t think they’re an essential part of college life, but I know many people look forward to them.”
Kim Anastasiya (Fresh., Dept. of Business Admin.)
“I remember the first MT I went to as if it were yesterday. It was at the beginning of my first semester, held by Global Leadership College students near the International Campus in Songdo. I didn’t really know what to expect from it and I was a bit terrified because I barely knew the people there. Thankfully, I met most of my friends during this MT. As a Yonsei University student, I say with certainty that MTs are very important for your social life because you can make new friends with different interests. I like going to MTs occasionally, although it actually depends on my mental and physical state. It’s a fun get-together that helps take a break from studying and forget about other problems for a while.”
XIN ENXIAN (Soph., Culture & Media)
“The MT I liked the most is the one held by my major's Foreigner Student Council to commemorate the end of the term. It was our first trip together, and we grilled meat, played games, and even set off fireworks. It was the best MT I have been to because it ended our council's term on a good note and I already knew all the people who were there. MTs themselves are good because they can help build friendships and experience different things. However, the pressure to drink and play games can be hard for some people, so I think everybody should get to choose whether to go or not. For me, it was a good university experience, but not something that is worth putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation.
Rubí Quevedo (Sr., Dept. of Biotech. & Bioengineering)
“I was very excited for my major’s MT because I wanted to experience what my foreigner seniors talked about when describing their student life. The College of Life Science and Engineering gathered altogether to share valuable information about classes, play games, enjoy music, and socialize. I made my first friends from my department there and I stepped out of my comfort zone to practice Korean conversation skills. That MT created a comradery between us, which made organizing outings afterwards much easier. Experience has taught me that MTs are an amazing opportunity to create a network and start off your semester on a good note. Of course, it varies from person to person, but I enjoyed it because these gatherings are rarely seen in my country. I would definitely recommend it to Yonsei University students, especially those from other countries.”
* * *
MTs may be glorified as a college experience to tick off on your bucket list, but they are not everybody’s cup of tea. Rather than being a necessary milestone, they are a choice for people looking to go on a trip with people they would like to get to know better.
*Direct translation of 선배-후배; Korean term for upper-year students and their younger classmates