This year's trip to the Korea University Fencing Invitational (KUEFI) was definitely a memorable one. From the intense fencing to the venturous exploring, Charlotte Sands, Stephanie Chan, Julia Abelsky, Cindy Oh, and I shared a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Taking place in Suwon, South Korea, the KUEFI tournament hosted student-athletes from universities all over the United States, including Stanford, Notre Dame, Harvard, Brown, etc. The theme of the entire competition was to showcase collegiate fencers' ability to balance both the athletic and academic aspects of their lives while simultaneously preparing for a successful career. Whereas the American student-athletes are able to maintain a balance between athletics and academics, the Korean fencers devote a significant amount of their time to solely athletics. Balance, time-management, and organization are the qualities the Korean fencers sought to learn from their American counterparts.
The first day of competition proved successful for the Wildcats, specifically rising sophomores Cindy Oh and Julia Abelsky. Even after a tough first round, the duo was able to pull through in the direct elimination round and tie for third in the women's sabre event. Over in the women's foil event, myself, Charlotte Sands, and Stephanie Chan faced faced a tough group of Korean competitors. Placing 9th, 18th, and 21st, respectively, we each realized that we need to both increase and improve our footwork drills if we want to match the pristine footwork of the Korean fencers.
The talent of the Northwestern fencing team, both athletically and academically, was truly showcased on the third day of competition. Having placed as the highest American finishers of the individual event two days prior, Cindy and I were selected to compete in the USA vs. Korea team event. The media coverage was the most I have ever witnessed for a fencing competition, which shows just how much the sport of fencing is growing. After a hard-fought battle, the women's American team fell short by just two touches, losing 15-13 to Korea. In addition to representing Northwestern through her amazing finish in the individual event, Julia Abelsky was asked to give a speech on her experience as a student-athlete by the organizers of the competition. A Korean newspaper even wrote an article on Abelsky, highlighting her ability to succeed both on and off the strip.
The week-long trip also included adventurous trips to Seoul, the country's capital, where we roamed the busy streets of Gangnam. Stumbling upon underground shopping centers, Korean barbeque, and unique coffee shops, we were able to grasp a more clear understanding of the infamous "Gangnam Style" song. The organizers of KUEFI also granted us the opportunity to tour Samsung's headquarters, an absolutely huge facility that includes a hospital, soccer field, restaurants, hotels, and much more. We even got a private tour of the Samsung museum, where we were exposed to the past, present, and future of technology. Imagine a world where your remote control is obsolete and you can change the TV channel or adjust the volume by simply using your voice. Well, in Korea, they already do so.
The trip concluded with a delicious team dinner where, to my horror, a bowl of bugs was served on the table as an appetizer. To no surprise, Stephanie Chan's chopsticks were the first, and only, utensils that dared to touch them.
The Wildcats would like to thank the organizers of KUEFI whose efforts in accommodating the American competitors did not go unnoticed. This year's KUEFI was extremely well organized and we truly had an amazing time in Suwon.Thanks for reading & have a great summer! - Jen