MT (엠티) is short for “Membership Training“. So, you might be thinking what kind of training and what will I be a member of? Well, it’s not so much like that either. It’s more freshman orientation than what the Konglish words sounds like. It’s basically a communal retreat, a weekend (or two days during a break) where you get to socialize with your colleagues.
An MT Story
I went to a university near Cheonan in the South Chungcheong province as an exchange student for a year-long program. Our MT’s were held near Daecheon Beach in Boryeong (also known for its yearly Mud Festival) once a semester. By taxi, it was a five minute drive from the station to the beach where we rented a large pension (apartment). We would find our spot on the floor in the apartment to take up as where we’d later sleep for the duration of our Membership Training.
And then we’d explore the town, play some of the usual carnival games on the boardwalk, eat out at some seafood restaurants, play volleyball on the hot afternoon sand, and jump into the cold rocky shallows.
At night is when the real fun begins. Back at the pension, we’d have one huge Samgyeopsal dinner and talk story with the people around us. After dinner, we’d play some Korean drinking games to pass the night.
Closer to midnight, you’ll see a few of us drunk walk around the beach or shoot off fireworks into the night sky until the energy dies down at like 4am.
By then, we’d return to the pension and join the harmonic chorus of snorers followed by an undeniable hangover period until noon. My MT experience was a mixed bag of equal parts fun and misery. Though I had to go back to the university since I had gotten sick and sleep deprived. I literally returned to Korea the night before MT from a short vacation in Taiwan.
An MT Recap
Though this MT was held in Boryeong, there are many different types and places of what MT is and where the MT would be located. For universities in Seoul, I’ve heard they’re mostly camping trips outside of the city in forests, near mountains, or in valleys. For universities in the provinces like my own, a long-awaited trip to the beach makes for a perfect MT.
MT is a time for employees and classmates to come together, bond miles away from the city, and know that we’re all in this together. It’s a Korean right of passage despite being mostly a hilarious alcoholic networking session with all-night group icebreakers. And you should know that seniors will not pressure juniors to drink at the MT (and don’t feel pressured to drink). There won’t be any hazing, though it’s best to watch yourself and know your limits if you plan on going.
Your seniors are there for you, just as much as juniors should be there for their seniors. In the end, very little training is made, and for some you might feel embarrassed and the bonding a tad bit awkward. But, you’ll get all the good food and good drinks with some funny stories out of it (if you remember anything at all).