South Korea Exchange
After almost a year of studying abroad in South Korea, I had to say goodbye. I’ve been back home for two weeks, and luckily, I am well adjusted to the time zone, after struggling for a week! Reverse culture shock is definitely REAL, and I almost can’t believe I’m actually back in Minnesota now. Honestly, I did happen to cry once I landed at the MSP airport!! I don’t know..there was just a surge of confusing emotions. Was I..sad? happy? relieved? I couldn’t exactly pinpoint my feelings at that moment! Studying abroad is like a dream, or more so like you’re living a second life. My life in Korea was totally different than my life here back in Minnesota, and being re-connected with one, but having memories of the other is just..so..weird? There’s no other way to put it. It’s like I’ve lived two lives!
It’s funny how my life has drastically changed while being in Korea, but once I arrived home, nothing has changed and everything is the same! It’s just an interesting realization..but also so bizarre. I don’t know! It’s something you need to experience for yourself. This did make me realize that there’s a whole world out there outside of Minnesota, so I hope you all take advantage of that!!
Oh, and here are some study abroad tips that I highly recommend you all take into consideration!
- BE OPEN MINDED.
it’s definitely easier said than done. You’re in a new country, and you probably know nothing of it besides the things you read and see in the media. That’s only a fraction of what the country really is, so be prepared for anything!! Also, be mindful of the cuisine in the country you’re studying abroad in. Being in South Korea, I know some exchange students were not as adventurous and nervous to eat Korean food, but know that the culture’s cuisine helps you connect with the country and people, and you’re studying abroad!! so you should be prepared to try new things! Granted, you don’t have to try everything, but I advise you all to at least try the basic, well-known food items in the country that you’re studying in! It’ll definitely enhance your experience!
- LEARN THE COUNTRY’S LANGUAGE
Now, i’m not telling you to stay in your dorm and study 24/7! But, you should definitely take the time and energy to learn enough of the country’s language to get by. (especially if the primary language isn’t English) Sure, most people can survive the country with having no knowledge of the language..as TOURISTS (joking!), but as someone who lives in the country, whether it be four months or a year, I think it’s beneficial, and you will definitely feel more connected to the country you’re studying abroad in! // Also if the country you’re in has common curtesy gestures you’re not familiar with, definitely learn that as well!
- RESPECT THE COUNTRY YOU ARE STUDYING ABROAD IN
Please be mindful and respectful of the country as a whole, and try not to get into any serious conflicts while abroad! I know specifically in Korea, there are some places where foreigners aren’t allowed in because of a past event or conflict having to do with foreigners. Sure, you may think some things are strange or not right, but remember, you’re a guest in the country, and any disruptive things you do will not only reflect you, but your nationality, host school, and home school. So, just be mindful!
- HAVE A GREAT TIME AND EXPERIENCE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!!
Studying abroad was the best experience ever, and I enjoyed it so much. It was also so easy being able to study abroad through Concordia as well, so I really hope you all take advantage of studying abroad as a university student!!
It’s been about two weeks since I arrived back to Minnesota, and I have to say that it feels like nothing has changed. I feel that coming back, it’s the same as usual, and that my year in Korea went by too fast. Even though, I did many different and fun things during my year away from friends and family.
After finals ended, I went on another out of country trip; this time it was the Philippines. I went to Palawan because one of my global village friends suggested it, since she also solo travelled a lot too. It was exciting to travel alone again, but I was more nervous because Palawan is still developing. But it was so beautiful, and I definitely don’t regret it. I did island tours in El Nido, and I met other solo travelers too. This trip allowed me to do more self discovery and also relaxation; it served as a great getaway for me.
Being back home, everything is the same as how I left it. Not much has changed, and I don’t feel too sad about leaving Korea, surprisingly. Many of my friends are sad to have left, but I’m okay with it. Being abroad a year, I feel that I experience Korea so greatly, that I know for sure that I’ll be back. Something I’d tell to future students who want to study in South Korea, is to have fun but be responsible. South Korea is GREAT for us younger folks! There’s so many fun things to do and meeting people, but learn to be responsible and know that it’s ok to say no in front of peer pressure. Also, I urge that all students should keep an open mind and be understanding of people of different opinions. Even if you experience some ignorance, try to educate others and be the bigger person. Also, don’t be afraid to do things by yourself! Travel to other countries with friends or solo, either way if you keep common sense with you and be safe, it will be worth it. Anyways I’ll be ending my blog here, and I hope you enjoyed reading my experiences abroad! Thank you for reading!
Shortly, after midterms were over, my friends and I realized how many weeks we have left until the semester was over. It feels like it was just yesterday when we arrived here in Korea. It’s amazing to see how close my suite mates and I have gotten within these few months and it is sad to know that I only have a couple weeks left with them.
My suite mates had become my family. We enjoy doing things together, making fun of each other and supporting one another. A few weeks ago one of my Korean suite mate invited me and a few foreigner suite mates to her home in Suncheon which was about 4 hours south from Sinchang by bus. I definitely enjoyed my weekend there. Her parents were so nice and sweet, they gave us their room to stay in because there was a bathroom in their room. She also has two dogs, Maru and Geumdong. Although throughout the weekend, Maru did not really like us as much because he kept growling and barking at us from time to time. Geumdong however, loved us as he kept playing with us and coming over to us to pet him. While being in Suncheon, my suit mate took us to The Suncheon Bay National Garden. It was beautiful and took us an entire day to go through the entire area. I thought about my mom as I was there because I knew she would have loved the gardens there.
This past weekend I went to another Korean suite mates home along with my other foreigner suite mate. Her hometown was in Pocheon north of Sinchang and took about 2-3 hours by bus. Her family owns a restaurant so we were able to eat some of their dishes which was delicious!
Being able to go to my suitemates home town is definitely an experience to remember! I feel like we are able to do more things and go to places where we would have never thought of going. It was really cool to experience different kinds of Korean homes. Plus, eating home made Korean food!! It was also really nice to interact with my suite mates parents as well. They were all really kind and made us feel welcome. If more people were able to receive the chance of staying with a family, definitely take the opportunity! It is a wonderful and memorable experience.
As the second semester goes by, I can’t help but compare both my semesters here so far. They’ve been so different from each other despite me still living in the same dormitory, going to the same school, and having the same friends! (plus new ones!) One’s experience in Global village really depends on, of course, how they make it out to be, and also the other people who are apart of GV as well! I’m so glad to have been able to experience two different semesters here, and I can definitely feel the difference. They’ve both been interesting in their own ways!
I know for sure, I am more confident in speaking Korean and also traveling around Korea with my current language skills! I’m still amazed that I can actual read hangul, comprehend Korean (most times), and speak Korean (to an extent haha..) It’s a great feeling and I definitely want to continue studying Korean once I get home! Especially because I do want to pursue a career here after graduation!
These days, I’ve just been living the life of a normal student, going to school, eating with friends, and working on homework! But, I did take some time off school to travel Japan for a week! It’s definitely got a different vibe compared to Korea, but also beautiful and amazing in it’s own way! I traveled to Tokyo! So i visited areas like Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Akibahara, and Asakusa!
Here are some pictures from my trip to Tokyo!
This was definitely the highlight of April!!! Now we’re in may and school is nearing towards the end, so from now until the end of the semester, I will be making the best memories with my friends here in Korea!!
It’s crazy that its now really hot (perhaps I’m exaggerating too much). I still can’t believe it that I’m in Korea, seriously. After coming back from Seoul this morning, I just thought to myself, “Wow, it’s so crazy that the folks here are all Korean.” I know it’s dumb, but I’m just so thankful to have the experience to be abroad. A topic I’ll be talking about in a part of this post will be about the limited diversity within Korea. Global village is wonderful, and everyone is really kind to one another. Which I’m glad to have chosen a culturally immersed program. Last year, I had wanted to go to Tokyo and study there with local students. Looking back at it now, it would have been extremely difficult to only be exposed to a certain group of people who may not share the same values, as well as interests as you. Here in sch’s global village, it’s a perfect mix of local students and people who you can share similar interests with(and not to mention language).
But getting to the point, you’ll find that outside of global village, there are still many people with skewered perceptions of foreigners. Even though I don’t even look “Korean” in my eyes, I have had many comments from friends and strangers that I look Korean. That is to say, in a sense, I physically look like an Eastern Asian ;which is different from someone from Southeast Asia. Not to generalize certain ethnicities, but a being an Asian myself, there are physical differences amongst Asian peoples. But continuing onto the point, I don’t receive as much backlash from being a foreigner when compared to my other friends (Americans, Chinese, etc.). On a subway ride to Seoul, a older male stranger came up close to my friend from Tennessee, who is white american. He asked her if he could get a picture with her, but she politely said no. People can view this scenario in two ways. One: He’s just a creepy guy who objectifies someone of a different color. Or two: He’s never seen someone different and is just amused or wowed. Regardless, in Korea, if you live somewhere in the countryside, expect stares and strange things to happen because you physically look and act different.
One thing I definitely don’t like is that, there are some Koreans who won’t interact with you if you’re not from western countries. I have noticed that in Korea, usually older or conservative people, look down on other Asians. Especially Chinese or Southeast Asian peoples. They put themselves in a higher regard and make assumptions that sometimes people from there are primitive or rude. I know some of my Korean friends sometimes have these complaints, but I usually have to tell them that they shouldn’t categorize a whole group of people from the actions of few. That may be an issue here in Korea, you may encounter some people who are judgmental and very pro-Korean. This is personal but, I hate it when people say I look Korean, but in the context that it’s a compliment. I don’t mind if someone was confused and said I looked like a Korean, that’s fine. But I hate it when someone says it as if it was a compliment, such as when I dress nicely and wear makeup. It’s in a sense wrong, because it puts expectations of immigrants and exchange students to change the way they are just to be complimented and accepted; And I’d like to CLARIFY, NOT ALL KOREANS DO THIS. There are only a small group of folks who may not be exposed to other people and values enough that they would care to respect it. I love my Korean friends, but if they have a question pertaining different ethnicities or cultures, or if they say something judgmental, I’ll just educate them about the issue.
I have also noticed that here in Korea, because we’re in a place where it’s not as diverse, some people from Western countries may think it’s okay to say prejudice things and such. Usually when this happens, of course I’m going to call you out. They should know better and definitely shouldn’t push prejudiced ideals onto Korean students. Other than that, Korea has a big problem with ethnocentrism, and although it’s still globalizing there are still some people who are very ethnocentric. If you don’t know what Ethnocentrism is, it pretty much judging other cultures from one’s own culture.
With each post, I hope to educate some aspects of being in a different place to students interested in studying abroad (and especially South Korea). Otherwise, I had my Grandma and Aunt come visit me! I mean, I guess a lot of my family members must have thought, “Hey now that we have a relative studying abroad in Korea, we can finally have a chance to go there and she’ll probably know the hot spots and stuff!” Well, I hate to break it but I don’t go to Seoul often to explore it considering that my campus is a dreaded 2-3 subway train ride away. Haha, but I really am appreciative that I had so many family members visit me over the course of this year. I have had my Brother and Sister in Law visit first, and a week after my Mom and Sister came; so we spent time together(all of us for a week) and then my Brother and Sister in Law left, leaving me with one week left with my Mom and Sister.At that point I didn’t really miss home when they came AND left, and I’m smiling as I write this haha. In the next semester around late March, my Aunt and Uncle came to visit, and they came in a group with 10 other people. It was a lot of pressure kind of being a tour guide, but I had much more experience with Seoul and it was fun for just three days. With my Aunt and Grandma, we spent about a week together. They came the day after my Birthday so that was really great(on another note my suite mates and good friends are all sweet people to have celebrated my birthday with me). My Aunt had booked us to go to Busan, and so we went there for a half of the trip and It was my third time there except longer. Afterwards we went to Seoul, and the area we stayed in was really nice. This is something I tell all of the people coming to Korea for travel. BOOK IN THE JONGNO AREA AND AVOID GANGNAM. I REPEAT AVOID GANGNAM. There’s really not much in Gangnam but shopping and it’s like 40 minutes away from the touristy and sightseeing stuff.
Back at campus, the blossoms full bloomed and people went crazy. The little road next to campus had some street food vendors open up. The fields were full of students just having fun both day and night. Lots of students took photos and families around Sinchang came out to the fields during the week too. I regret not taking any photos with the blossoms, but it really was a beautiful sight to see!
About two weeks after my Aunt and Grandma left, Me and Lumena went to Tokyo. Tokyo was so nice, but also similar to Seoul, because there’s lots of shopping. It just differs a little by some factors, such as it being so clean and the massive amount of tourists. I did so much compulsive shopping in Japan, and …. I don’t regret it. Because I know, back in the states you can’t find these type of stuff, and if you do, it’s usually expensive. Anyways, I had a great time in Tokyo and I really enjoyed the different vibe I got form there.
I can’t believe there’s another month left, and by that time it will go back to how it started. Hot and humid. BUT I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT. So, this is the end of my post and I hoped some folks learned a little about places with not as much diversity when compared to Western places.
It’s finally spring semester at SCH~ actually it’s been spring semester, I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t been able to blog. But, finally, here I am! This semester, there are a bunch of new faces, and I really have made some new great friends! This semester is my last semester at SCH, and I definitely don’t want to think about it.. so I guess I’ll recap my winter break in Sinchang! I think this will be especially useful for students who want to stay two semesters, but have no idea what to do during the long breaks in between.
SCH offers teacher assistant positions for an English camp for children during both the winter and summer breaks for global village students. With the TA position, you get free boarding over the whole break, and you do get paid at the end of the camp. Camp lasts three weeks, and you’ll basically be managing a whole classroom full of kids. I was chosen as a TA for the winter break term, and it was probably one of the best experiences ever!!! I had a lot of fun and I’ve gotten to know a group of kids, who are now dear to my heart! Our days would start from 9am to 5pm, everyday excluding weekends, of course. Everyday was full of energy and fun. I have to say, these kids had extremely impressive english skills, and my kids were only 11-13 years old! I think they were even better than some of my university friends at english! That goes to show how much work kids have to do in school here.
Here are some pictures!!
They made me a powerpoint for our last day of class! it was so touching!!
some of my students artwork!!
It was a really great experience, and I definitely recommend applying for the winter/summer camp if you’re able to in the future! It especially helps if you actually want to be a TESOL teacher!
Another thing that’s been happening is..the cherry blossoms!! In Korean they’re called “벚꽃” (beotkkot) and they’re absolutely beautiful!! The spring vibe in Korea is so different compared to the spring vibe back home. I feel like spring is such a huge event in Korea, and I can see why. These blossom all over campus, and of course all over Korea, and it’s just such an amazing sight! Soon chun Hyang is actually the 3rd most beautiful campus with Cherry Blossoms in Korea, so I’m definitely blessed to be showered with all this beauty as I walk to class!
That’s all I have for now. Midterms are coming up, and I’m also going to Japan in 7 days, so i’ll make sure to blog about it!!!
안녕하세요한국에서 ~ An-nyeong-ha-se-yo Han-guk-eseo ~ Hi From Korea
Annyeonghaseyo, is how you say hi in Korean (Formally). I cannot believe that a month has passed. Time here is going by so fast. I thought my transition was going to be more difficult but it was not that bad. Not saying it was easy but I thought I would’ve stressed more. Coming to South Korea was a little scary for me. I never thought that I would travel around the world by myself (even though my friend came with me this semester but it is still a new experience for myself). I’m so used to being around my family and friends.
The first week in Korea was a little hard because there were no Korean students in our suite, but I did have the help from my Korean friends who came to Concordia last year and this year. They me find places to eat, where to go, and things to do. The first week felt long but was an interesting week. My suite has two foreigners and 10 Koreans, but before the Koreans moved in, the other foreigner and I waited for more foreigners and Koreans to move in. It felt like ages for people to move in. Two days before school started, the Koreans slowly moved in. Meeting every single one of them was interesting. As I look back when I first met them, I didn’t think that I would be closed to them, but now I feel like I’m just at home. Living with them feels like living with elevens brothers (but we don’t argue, or haven’t yet). We all get along which makes living here so fun! We all like to joke with each other, and when we’re free, we eat and hang out together. As time goes on, I’m slowly getting closer with my suite mates. I’m so glad I have my suite mates, I wouldn’t trade them for anybody else.
Majority of my suite mates (10/12)
My suite mates are awesome but meeting the other international students has been an interesting experience. I didn’t think that meeting other international students will bring cultural differences before coming to Korea, I just thought about the Korean cultural and people. But there are so many differences even from the people from America.
I learned a lot from everybody! I knew I would learn new things about people but I didn’t really think I would learn new things from Americans. Korea has been an amazing time! I love it a lot. I don’t want to come back home yet! (Like what people say Don’t pull or pull a “Pakhoua”)
I still can’t believe that I’m here in Korea. Not just that, but that I also traveled to two other countries this past winter vacation. I went to Taiwan and also Japan. More specifically I went to the Kansai region of Japan, which contains Osaka and Kyoto. It was a great experience travelling solo. At first I was uncomfortable eating alone or just being by myself. However, after time went on, it was convenient for me to travel by myself. And I definitely prefer it more that way. I definitely recommend students studying abroad to at least travel as much as possible. I’m thankful to be given this opportunity to not only study in Korea but also travel to other countries nearby as well.
Starting off this semester, there have been many new international students coming in. I thought there would be a lot of returning students, but there’s only seventeen of us here. The setup of global village has changed a lot this spring. They turned the honors lounge into a kitchen (which is actually quite nice). Instead of RAs doing roll call, we have a new fingerprint system. After 11:30pm from Mon to Thursday, all students must get up and register their fingerprints. I mean the concept of it is nice, however I find it inconvenient. Some people may want to rest early, or the machine might not read the fingerprints properly. There have been many complaints about the new system, and some students have tried taking action in informing the office.
What’s funny is that this semester, I’m not that excited about South Korea and such compared to last semester. I mean, it is obvious I’ve been here already and the cultural high is now seen as normal for me. I do my best to help the new students and answer whatever questions they have. I guess compared to last semester, seeing how the returnees didn’t really try to help out, I wanted to change that this semester. With this semester, I see it more positive than how the people in global village acted last semester. However, there are still some faults and ignorance from some international students. It’s hard to not get mad, but educating the ignorant is key to opening peoples minds. Also, this semester I hope I have more opportunities to travel abroad, and if I do I will definitely blog about it!
Within my first month in South Korea, I have learned many things about the culture and myself. Firstly, it was definitely an adjustment from living with six people to twelve people (whom I did not know). Within my suite there are four Americans and eight Koreans. We all have different personalities but I think we all get along very well. I really enjoy being with my suite mates and doing things with them. I am also glad that my roommate and I get along well together.
Secondly, I love eating Korean food here! So I definitely can adjust well with the food. However, I did notice that there is corn in egg, sometimes even pizza, spaghetti, and toast. I do not mind eating corn with egg but other times I would rather just eat eggs without corn. One of my favorite dish here so far is the spicy boiled pork dish with ramen in it. It is very delicious and makes me think of home. Oh! Another thing… I love love love eating street food. I do not have a favorite yet… But since it is Cherry Blossom season, we now have tents set out by the back gate sells street food, I plan to head down there sometime and eat with my friends!
Thirdly, I notice that Koreans like to go out during the week days and then study on the weekends. But then it is because most Koreans go back home during the weekends so week days are the only time they get to spend time with their friends. I also have noticed that my suite mates like to study a lot. Sometimes they would also procrastinate but would then study really late at night. I remember one Sunday night, my suite mates and I were up playing games and talking until 3 a.m. in the morning then my Korean suite mate suggested that we study together. I thought she was crazy and just said to sleep instead.
I think Korean class schedules are ridiculous because there are so many classes crammed up into one day. Some days are lenient but most days there are filled up from 9 am until almost 6 or 7 pm. So I give them props for working so hard! Even though most of my suite mates have a busy schedule and are always studying, they always make time to hang with us even if it is for 10 minutes.
One month definitely did go by fast and at times I do miss home but I still try to enjoy my time here. I am looking forward to seeing more Cherry blossoms as well as more of exploring Korea. I have already went to visit Hongdae in Seoul and am hoping to visit Namsan Tower this weekend. Definitely excited to learn and have more adventures!