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South Korea Exchange

Finals and Traveling: Last Weeks in Korea
My last month in South Korea went by quick with finals and planning for my last days after finals are over. Final exams was more difficult than midterms, if you take Korean language classes. Midterms was more about the Korean alphabet and vocabulary whereas finals was about sentences, writing, and grammar. Looking back on the classes I took, I learned a lot and really want to keep up with learning Korean so that when I visit Korea again I’ll be able to communicate with the locals better. The instructors were really fun and were always willing to help students understand and answer their questions about why certain language rules are the way they are. Since finals was the second week of December, I pretty much stayed near campus for those two weeks and kept myself busy with studying and finding out my plans for after exams, since we do also have to find our own transportation from campus to the airport. The weekend right after exams ended a small group of friends and I went to Lotte World and Lotte Tower in Seoul. Lotte World is an indoor amusement park and has an outdoor part too which is a decent size. I’d recommend to come visit Lotte World at least once if you’re ever in Korea. The only issue we had is that since it was beginning December, the weather was cold. So, when we were exploring the outside part and in line to wait for rides, we were freezing. We stood in line for almost two hours for our first ride outside and I’d say it was worth it. What surprised me was how many of the locals were wearing skirts and no coats. Lotte World has a popular thing where you can go rent a high school uniform and wear it for the day while you’re having fun. So many people were wearing uniforms, but I guess it makes the experience a bit more fun. After spending most of the day at Lotte World, around 6PM we walked over to Lotte Tower, which has 123 floors and at the top of the tower you can see so much of Seoul. We even saw Lotte World from the sky view, which I will include a photo of. Although it was at night, we could still see so much and see the city lights. It was very beautiful. The four of us stayed in an airbnb not too far away and we also went back to Myeongdong to do some shopping. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate had already packed all her things and left and I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye.         After the weekend ended it was makeup week. Makeup week is a week where instructors could add an extra day or two of classes if they needed to in case the class was behind or they had to cancel a class some time throughout the semester. We were told when the semester started to not buy a plane ticket back home during makeup week because we don’t know if our instructors will be having a makeup class. I was taking a Korean Writing class on Thursdays, but one thing about this class for this semester is that Chuseok Holiday and National Foundation Day (major Korean holidays) landed on Thursday, so we had two less class sessions and the instructor decided to have them during makeup week on Tuesday and Thursday, even though we took the final exam the week prior. Before final exams even began, I knew I had to book an airbnb or hotel for my last few days in Korea since I would be busy during finals week and have no time to look. I wanted to do more things in Seoul that I didn’t get to do yet and also go back to COEX since I didn’t get the full experience last time because it’s so huge. I planned where I wanted to do most of my things, which ended up being in Gangnam. I knew I would also have to find a way from Seoul to the airport with all my luggage, so I kept it in mind when looking for places. I found it very convenient to stay at an airbnb right next to COEX because what’s right next to it is the City Airport Terminal (CALT). CALT is an airport transportation service. You can also check in there with your airline and bags. Depending on which airline you are using, they may or may not have the option for you to check in there, so it’s best to check their website and make sure your airline is available at CALT. I’d highly recommend using this to get to the airport if you want to stay in Seoul but also have a lot of luggage you don’t want to drag around with you. You basically check in your bags, go through immigration, and if you’re ready to leave to the airport just buy a limousine bus ticket at the machine and board the bus when it’s time. Keep in mind you won’t see your suitcases again until you land at your destination, therefore, you will not be able to see it at Incheon airport. I found this really helpful because I had two heavy suitcases and a carry on. After checking in my bags, I went through immigration, got my bus ticket, boarded, and left Seoul to Incheon. Since I completed most of the airport process at CALT, I didn’t have to do anything but go through security at Incheon airport then head to my gate. Overall the process was very quick. When I went to CALT, there was no line for baggage check and it was mostly empty. Thankfully they had my airline so I was really set on my plans for the remainder of my time in Korea. Hotels were a bit pricey for the area too and I was going to be staying for three days and two nights in Gangnam. Everything worked out though. For my last three days in Korea I left campus early Thursday morning with a friend to Seoul. I packed all my belongings and cleaned my room at least two days before leaving. We took the KTX train so we could get to Seoul quicker. The KTX train does have a luggage storage area for suitcases and larger bags. We were trying to go to House of BTS early so we wouldn’t have to wait long in a line later. She helped me carry my other suitcase all the way to my airbnb which I’m very thankful for and treated her to a late lunch later. After dropping off my bags at my airbnb, we went straight to House of BTS. It was my second time there, but her first. Since I wanted to go back and get new merchandise they released, I invited her to join me since she didn’t get a chance to go. We ended up having to wait two hours since it took a while for us to get to Gangnam anyways. We decided to eat curry for a late lunch and walk around the area to shop. We spent most of our time in Artbox getting last minute souvenirs for family before heading back to our lineup queue time. Once we entered the House of BTS, we got what we wanted and proceeded to the photo zones. This time I got to go to the top floor since last time it was raining and I think they closed off the part of it that was outside. After we got out, it was dark, but Seoul is known for its nightlife in some areas so we didn’t stop there. We went to Apgujeong Rodeo, which is still part of Gangnam and a place I really wanted to see. This area is known for their street fashion, K-Star Road, and shops. We happened to come across NANA’s piercing, which is a piercing shop many Korean idols come to and get their ears pierced, such as GOT7, Seventeen, Girl’s Generation, Monsta X, etc. Their walls are covered in autographs and short messages to NANA. I got my ear pierced here because I know I wanted a third piercing in Korea because it’s cheaper here. Surprisingly, it cost me roughly $15 USD for the piercing and jewelry. I think in America getting your ears pierced by a needle and not a piercing gun would cost a lot more. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, considering my fear of needles, and it also went by super quick. My friend watched the whole thing and told me she jumped a bit when they did it. We walked around the area a bit more but because it was getting late not many things were open anymore. From there we got on the subway and split up. She went to her airbnb and I went to mine. The next day I had a hair appointment in the morning that I scheduled online. They spoke English and had great reviews so I chose to go there to get my haircut. They washed my hair and it was the first time I had two people drying my hair at the same time. The one washing my hair asked if I like BTS and I said yes. We talked about our favorite members and going to their concerts. When I got back to Samseong station, which is the subway station I exit to my airbnb and COEX, I went to SMTOWN first. I think they were doing an event because I saw the hand prints of all the SM artists outside. The rest of my day was just shopping and walking around. Saturday was my last day in Korea. I was sad to leave but excited to go home. I definitely want to go back to Korea in the near future and meet up with the Korean friends I made. Some things I didn’t do because I wanted to experience it with family. Korea is a place I’d live in too if I get the chance. It’s an amazing country and I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.    

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Last Month in South Korea
My last month in South Korea went by quick with finals and planning for my last days after finals are over. Final exams was more difficult than midterms, if you take Korean language classes. Midterms was more about the Korean alphabet and vocabulary whereas finals was about sentences, writing, and grammar. Looking back on the classes I took, I learned a lot and really want to keep up with learning Korean so that when I visit Korea again I’ll be able to communicate with the locals better. The instructors were really fun and were always willing to help students understand and answer their questions about why certain language rules are the way they are. Since finals was the second week of December, I pretty much stayed near campus for those two weeks and kept myself busy with studying and finding out my plans for after exams, since we do also have to find our own transportation from campus to the airport. The weekend right after exams ended a small group of friends and I went to Lotte World and Lotte Tower in Seoul. Lotte World is an indoor amusement park and has an outdoor part too which is a decent size. I’d recommend to come visit Lotte World at least once if you’re ever in Korea. The only issue we had is that since it was beginning December, the weather was cold. So, when we were exploring the outside part and in line to wait for rides, we were freezing. We stood in line for almost two hours for our first ride outside and I’d say it was worth it. What surprised me was how many of the locals were wearing skirts and no coats. Lotte World has a popular thing where you can go rent a high school uniform and wear it for the day while you’re having fun. So many people were wearing uniforms, but I guess it makes the experience a bit more fun. After spending most of the day at Lotte World, around 6PM we walked over to Lotte Tower, which has 123 floors and at the top of the tower you can see so much of Seoul. We even saw Lotte World from the sky view, which I will include a photo of. Although it was at night, we could still see so much and see the city lights. It was very beautiful. The four of us stayed in an airbnb not too far away and we also went back to Myeongdong to do some shopping. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate had already packed all her things and left and I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye. After the weekend ended it was makeup week. Makeup week is a week where instructors could add an extra day or two of classes if they needed to in case the class was behind or they had to cancel a class some time throughout the semester. We were told when the semester started to not buy a plane ticket back home during makeup week because we don’t know if our instructors will be having a makeup class. I was taking a Korean Writing class on Thursdays, but one thing about this class for this semester is that Chuseok Holiday and National Foundation Day (major Korean holidays) landed on Thursday, so we had two less class sessions and the instructor decided to have them during makeup week on Tuesday and Thursday, even though we took the final exam the week prior. Before final exams even began, I knew I had to book an airbnb or hotel for my last few days in Korea since I would be busy during finals week and have no time to look. I wanted to do more things in Seoul that I didn’t get to do yet and also go back to COEX since I didn’t get the full experience last time because it’s so huge. I planned where I wanted to do most of my things, which ended up being in Gangnam. I knew I would also have to find a way from Seoul to the airport with all my luggage, so I kept it in mind when looking for places. I found it very convenient to stay at an airbnb right next to COEX because what’s right next to it is the City Airport Terminal (CALT). CALT is an airport transportation service. You can also check in there with your airline and bags. Depending on which airline you are using, they may or may not have the option for you to check in there, so it’s best to check their website and make sure your airline is available at CALT. I’d highly recommend using this to get to the airport if you want to stay in Seoul but also have a lot of luggage you don’t want to drag around with you. You basically check in your bags, go through immigration, and if you’re ready to leave to the airport just buy a limousine bus ticket at the machine and board the bus when it’s time. Keep in mind you won’t see your suitcases again until you land at your destination, therefore, you will not be able to see it at Incheon airport. I found this really helpful because I had two heavy suitcases and a carry on. After checking in my bags, I went through immigration, got my bus ticket, boarded, and left Seoul to Incheon. Since I completed most of the airport process at CALT, I didn’t have to do anything but go through security at Incheon airport then head to my gate. Overall the process was very quick. When I went to CALT, there was no line for baggage check and it was mostly empty. Thankfully they had my airline so I was really set on my plans for the remainder of my time in Korea. Hotels were a bit pricey for the area too and I was going to be staying for three days and two nights in Gangnam. Everything worked out though. For my last three days in Korea I left campus early Thursday morning with a friend to Seoul. I packed all my belongings and cleaned my room at least two days before leaving. We took the KTX train so we could get to Seoul quicker. The KTX train does have a luggage storage area for suitcases and larger bags. We were trying to go to House of BTS early so we wouldn’t have to wait long in a line later. She helped me carry my other suitcase all the way to my airbnb which I’m very thankful for and treated her to a late lunch later. After dropping off my bags at my airbnb, we went straight to House of BTS. It was my second time there, but her first. Since I wanted to go back and get new merchandise they released, I invited her to join me since she didn’t get a chance to go. We ended up having to wait two hours since it took a while for us to get to Gangnam anyways. We decided to eat curry for a late lunch and walk around the area to shop. We spent most of our time in Artbox getting last minute souvenirs for family before heading back to our lineup queue time. Once we entered the House of BTS, we got what we wanted and proceeded to the photo zones. This time I got to go to the top floor since last time it was raining and I think they closed off the part of it that was outside. After we got out, it was dark, but Seoul is known for its nightlife in some areas so we didn’t stop there. We went to Apgujeong Rodeo, which is still part of Gangnam and a place I really wanted to see. This area is known for their street fashion, K-Star Road, and shops. We happened to come across NANA’s piercing, which is a piercing shop many Korean idols come to and get their ears pierced, such as GOT7, Seventeen, Girl’s Generation, Monsta X, etc. Their walls are covered in autographs and short messages to NANA. I got my ear pierced here because I know I wanted a third piercing in Korea because it’s cheaper here. Surprisingly, it cost me roughly $15 USD for the piercing and jewelry. I think in America getting your ears pierced by a needle and not a piercing gun would cost a lot more. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, considering my fear of needles, and it also went by super quick. My friend watched the whole thing and told me she jumped a bit when they did it. We walked around the area a bit more but because it was getting late not many things were open anymore. From there we got on the subway and split up. She went to her airbnb and I went to mine. The next day I had a hair appointment in the morning that I scheduled online. They spoke English and had great reviews so I chose to go there to get my haircut. They washed my hair and it was the first time I had two people drying my hair at the same time. The one washing my hair asked if I like BTS and I said yes. We talked about our favorite members and going to their concerts. When I got back to Samseong station, which is the subway station I exit to my airbnb and COEX, I went to SMTOWN first. I think they were doing an event because I saw the hand prints of all the SM artists outside. The rest of my day was just shopping and walking around. Saturday was my last day in Korea. I was sad to leave but excited to go home. I definitely want to go back to Korea in the near future and meet up with the Korean friends I made. Some things I didn’t do because I wanted to experience it with family. Korea is a place I’d live in too if I get the chance. It’s an amazing country and I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.  

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Third Month Studying in South Korea
November 21, 2019 There is only about a month left for me here and finals exams are in three weeks and I have projects due in two weeks. With so much to do and trying to study as much of the language as I can before I leave, I’m not sure if I’ll have time to go out until after exams are over. I leave Korea on December 21 and will be landing back in MN on the same day, as Minnesota is fifteen hours behind (if not for daylight savings, fourteen hours). The time difference is one important thing to remember when traveling anywhere, so it’s something to keep in mind if you want to contact family back home. This month I did a lot and tried to fit everything I really wanted to do within the few weeks I had free time. The first place I went to this month was Namsan Tower. I’d say this is a must visit place when you’re in Korea and is a very popular tourist attraction. The tower can be seen from multiple parts of Seoul, depending on where you are. Namsan Tower is also a popular place where couples go and buy a lock to keep their promise to stay together forever. You write your name and the other person’s name on the lock and maybe a little message on it. Once you’re done, you lock the lock somewhere on the tower or railings and throw away the key, signifying that you and the other person will be locked together too. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a lover. It can be a group of friends, family, etc. When you get to the tower, you can either choose to go up by a rail cart or take the stairs. We took the stairs. There were a lot of stairs we had to climb, but we eventually made it to the top and the view was amazing. I went on a day with bad weather though, rain and fog. It would’ve been better if we went on a day with clear skies, but we were in Seoul and decided to go anyways knowing the weather was bad because we don’t know when the next time we could come is. Once we got to the top I purchased a lock for ten-thousand Korean won ($8.50 USD). When you look out from the top of the tower, you can see so much of Seoul. This is one of my favorite places in Seoul.   I’m glad I’m in Korea when BTS has just opened their ‘House of BTS Pop-Up Shop’ in October. I got a chance to go see it and grab some merchandise for my family back home and myself. I got to the location an hour before they opened and there were still people forming lines even a month after opening. I waited in line for about two hours. Once I got in I took a look around at the products and got to take some awesome photos at the photo zones set up. I spent at least a good hour inside, maybe a bit longer.   Another place I visited this month was the COEX Mall, in Gangnam, Seoul. This mall amazed me by it’s size. I feel like it’s much bigger than the Mall of America, and it doesn’t have an inside amusement park either. There are so many places to eat and shop inside. They have a movie theater and aquarium too and the aquarium pass is 10% off for foreigners. There are multiple levels to the mall, but due to time and wanting to go see other places, we could only barely get through looking around one floor. From there we walked to SMTOWN, which is right next to COEX. I took more photos here and loved this place, especially as a fan. SMTOWN is by SM Entertainment and holds artists such as EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and many more. They displayed their awards from shows here and sell their albums here. They also have their artist museum here and a cafe near the top floor with themed artist goods. Inside the cafe, there are tables and chairs signed by the artists themselves when they visited. I didn’t get a chance to see the museum as we were on a tight schedule. It does cost to enter the museum though, but I forgot to look at the price. I’d suggest for anyone who wants to visit the COEX Mall to make sure to reserve a whole day for it since it’s such a huge place that it’ll take time to get through the whole mall. I definitely want to go back and also see the aquarium. Starfield Library is in between SMTOWN and COEX. It’s the biggest library in Korea with over fifty-thousand books and very tall bookshelves. The biggest library I’ve ever been in. We only passed through it to get back, but I got some photos of what it looks like inside.   I got to go back to Myeongdong in Seoul afterwards. I don’t remember where exactly we walked to, but it was underground where you would enter to take the subway and we came across a Gundam store, to anyone who’s a fan of this anime series. It was at an awkward location underground around the Myeongdong area. Right across from the Gundam store is a K-pop store. They aren’t really in two separate rooms. When entering, it’s one huge room. What stuck out the most to me here is the touchable screens and walls. They displayed Korean idols and you can choose your favorite idol to be displayed. We did some more shopping there and ate great food afterwards. I think one thing about Korean food is that it almost always has some type of vegetable. They give side dishes for free too and probably depending where you go, there’s unlimited side dish refills. I can say that I will miss the food when I come back home.   I visited a palace in Seoul too. I forgot the name of the specific palace, but there’s more than one in Korea and in different cities. There’s even one in Asan, not too far from Soonchunhyang University. These palaces have been in Korea for a long time and say a lot about their history. I’ve always wanted to see one in person since I watch plenty of Korean historical dramas. Walking around the palace made me feel like I was a part of the history, surrounded by unique architecture and getting a feel for what it was like to live in such a place. I would also suggest to visit at least one palace when coming to Korea as it’s part of their culture and history.   From here I’ll begin studying for finals. I’m taking five classes, three of them in Korean language. I want to learn as much of the language and culture as I can while I’m here since it is Korea and I really want to become fluent in the language. I’m excited to come back home, but I know I’ll also miss the people I met here and the country. There’s so many things that are different and the same compared to back home. One thing about studying abroad is that it can change you. I’ve been told by my family that I’ve changed positively and have become more open-minded. They are also excited to have me come back and tell them about my time studying in South Korea.

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A Crazy Month at Soonchunhyang!
It’s been another month of craziness and I’m already halfway done! So much has happened in the span of two months. I have met some of the greatest people here and it’s amazing how close everyone has gotten to each other in such a short amount of time. There’s going to be a lot in this post so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

My Experiences in Korea

SOONCHUNHYANG MUSIC FESTIVAL

At the end of September there was a big three-day musical festival that only happens during the Fall semester. There were going to be many Korean Artists that will perform. The only two performers I knew were Zico and Bolbbalgan4. Everyone here at SCH was so excited for Zico to perform. His song, “Okey Dokey” is literally the anthem among the students in Global Village. Bolbbalgan4 was incredible live but it was so sad that the school canceled Zico because there was a typhoon headed our way.

A Mini Music Seoul Trip

After the music festival I met up to meet with my friends from Minnesota who were competing in a dance contest in Korea. They were amazing as always and I got to watch Kpop Idols, The Boyz, Dreamcatcher, and JBJ95 perform while I was there. I was traveling by myself but I think I have been to Seoul enough times to navigate by myself. The next day I met up with a couple of my SCH friends to go watch a music show called Music Bank. I was super excited to see more famous artists perform their songs! It was honestly an experience. We stopped at Jumunjin Beach for a bit and it was beautiful. It was great to not be around so many crammed cars and just to be around water. After the beach we arrived at Music Bank and I got to see so many talented people perform. It was truly an awesome experience!

Coffee Hour: ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

Preparing for Coffee Hour was a bit stressful but fun! Jiwon, a Korean student who came to Concordia last year was in charge of United, the dance performance group in Global Village had asked me to help her lead a group to perform for Coffee Hour. It was hard to get together and some language barriers but we managed to put on a great show! Because Coffee Hour was Halloween Themed we played many games like “Guess What’s In the Box” (I won IKEA socks for guessing pine cones) and Musical chairs with spooky music! It was a great time and super fun. I’m sad there’s only two Coffee Hours. (This was from last Coffee Hour. I don’t have the newest one yet ㅜㅜ)

Hangouts and Friends

Sinchang is actually a very small city. There are many restaurants, bars, PC bangs, and 노래 방’s (karaoke rooms). If you want to go shopping you would have to take the subway to the next few cities like Onyang and Cheonan. What my friends and I usually do is eat out (a lot!), or drinking (because it is part of the culture), and singing. On my language exchanges we usually play games in the Global Lounge or in the Gogos cafe. The most popular games this semester has been Rummikub, Halli Galli, and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. These games are so entertaining that I’m even thinking of buying them for myself. Traveling is also a good way to get away from the country side. Usually I go to Seoul since it’s the most convenient and easiest to get to. Other popular places people go to are Busan or Jeju Island. This last month of October I went to  Gyeongbokgung Palace and dressed up in traditional Hanboks.

Adapting to Korean Culture

Before coming to Korea I thought I had some knowledge about the culture. I knew about handing things to people with two hands and bowing as a respectful aspect of their culture. I knew about their hierarchy system and some very basic terms. I did not think Korea will be different from America. In some perspectives it is but in other ways it’s really different. The longer that I stay here I think of Korea as a very traditional modernized country. Korea is evolving very quickly but because of the culture has a very Confucius foundation, it is still stuck in the past in my eyes. For example usually restaurants in America have semi-formal settings yet in Korea it is very homey and comfortable as if you never left your home. The waiters in Korea are to only serve you food and drinks but for setting the table the customers do it themselves as if you were home. Korea truly does have a beautiful culture. Being around Korean people and seeing how the interact with each other helps me figure out what I need to do here as well. I can see the changes in my behavior on how I interact with people. I have found myself to be very cautious and even more respectful than I was before. I would bow to everyone and hand things with two hands. I can speak basic conversations, order food, and tell the nice ahjima’s how great their cooking is. There is still so much for me to learn and to truly get comfortable with the country but as of right now I think I am doing a great job of integrating myself into the culture. I believe the true way of knowing that I have understood the culture is when I come back to America and bring these values and behaviors back with me.

Only One And A Half Months To Go

I’m super sad that I have met the halfway point of my journey here in Korea. I have met so many great people and we already talk about how fast this semester is going. Being in a new country is so eye-opening and I can feel myself changing in a good way. I feel like being away from home I can really find myself and how to better myself. I really miss my family and friends back in Minnesota but being here in Korea, it’s like a new adventure everyday! I really hope this last month slows itself down. I’m not ready to come home yet!

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First encounters of Korea + The Student Life

Vacation time!

This blog is long overdue BUT only due to the craziness that has happened in the past three weeks.  I arrived early in Korea on August 18th. My parents also decided to tag along so they could also have their own vacation as well. The plane ride was super long (like 13 hours!) and once we arrived to the airport we had to take the subway to another airport for Jeju. We basically lived at the airport for a whole day! Once we arrived in Jeju we explored the island and went on a Yacht tour in the sea. The water was super blue and beautiful. We were supposed to be dolphin spotting but sadly we weren’t lucky enough. (The sea was really beautiful in Jeju!) We also went to Seoul and visited many of the touristy places like, Namsan Tower, Myungdong Streets, Hongdae, Gangnam. Alright, enough of the touristy vacation things. It’s time for the good stuff!

The Student life in Korea.

Saying goodbye to my parents was very bittersweet. Especially because they came along with me, physically saying goodbye was tough. I had to hold back the tears and be strong. This is my first time being outside the US and alone. Before coming to Soon Chun Hyang University in Asan I did lots on research to prepare myself. Although I had some prior knowledge of the Korean language and culture, I really have to put things to the test! The international students had to arrive a week before the Korean students because we had a lot more paperwork and orientations. I was nervous if I could make any friends here since I came by myself but I had to put myself out there. Thank goodness that there is a Kakao Talk group chat with most of the international students so random hangouts would occur. My first week in Asan went pretty well! Because I live in Global Village, I met many different people from all around the world. I feel like I made many friends while drinking. The Korean drinking culture is super different from America. But because drinking is very social here, getting to know people was easier to do and also really fun. Once the Korean students moved into Global Village there wasn’t a big language barrier because the Korean students need to know some English to live ther. They are super nice, cool, and down to do anything. They are also as interested in our cultures as we are to theirs. As the school year begins, I was actually really excited for my classes. I am taking 5 classes: 2 Korean learning classes, a music class, and a business class. Outside of classes I also have language exchanges where we are paired with Korean students and we basically only speak English to help them improve their skills. We usually have about 7-8 exchanges. Classes here are also very different then what I am used to. Korean classes are usually 3 hours long but there are 10 minute breaks in between. I think I like this a bit better than in America because the 10 minutes let me recollect my thoughts (or to wake myself up especially 9am classes!). My Korean Speaking professor is super entertaining. He is very engaging, funny, and very over expressive. He teaches us like we are children but I don’t mind since it helps me learn faster. On the first day of class he taught us “Konglish” which is Korean mixed English since we learned the Korean alphabet. He says if we cannot speak Korean, as long as we can pronounce our English as Korean there will be some understanding. It was probably my most memorable 1st day of school. (It says: “Do you love me? See you, Bye Bye.”) My schedule is pretty available now. I usually only have morning classes and one class a day with few language exchanges here and there. Not much has happened yet since we just had our Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) break. Although it’s been free flowing right now, I can sense the late night study sessions coming soon BUT a really great semester. Last thing! Because Korea is SUPER SUPER CHEAP, my wallet is crying because I eat out too much. T.T

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My third month in Korea

Third month in Korea

Hello, Currently it’s 2:30 here in Korea while I am writing this blog. Three months have went by so quick and It’s crazy to know that in about 22 days I will be leaving Korea. I know that I have not been here for long but Korea feels like home to me. Before, coming to Korea I was somewhat a homebody. I was too comfortable with what I did and where I was in life. This was my first time being independent and away from family and friends. Now that I am here I love being my own person and making my own choices without needing to ask for permission.
  When I was a little girl coming to Korea has always been a dream of mine. I only saw Korea through K-pop and dramas. Experiencing Korea in person is different from what I had imagined… I was living my fantasy through a small screen. There was and is still so much I have to learn about the Korean culture that you can not simply get.  I had became close with a Korean student in one of my classes and he told me that Koreans never have debatable conversations with their close friends because you do not want to make them upset, and that blew my mind. With that said, him and I had a deep conversation about gun laws, abortion, legalizing gay marriage etc. To my surprise he had really enjoyed talking about these topics . He had also told me that friendship here in Korea is held very high since families only decide to have one or two kids. He will be going to America for a year and wanted to know more about America; including slang. As an Asian American, we both are so different yet similar to one another. I am happy with all the international students that we have here in Korea. We have a group of diverse students from all over the globe. I have met so many and with each encounter I have with them it’s always something that increases the dendrites in my brain. They have pushed and molded me to become the best version of myself, sometimes we clash but we learn so much about each other and the culture.

Adventure time

Last month I did a lot of traveling around Korea! When you realize you are running out of time you want to make the most of what you have left. Thankfully, Korea has a good transportation system which makes it so efficient to travel. Hwaseong Fortress which is located in Suwon is beautiful. This fortress expands throughout Suwon and even goes up in the mountains but the end results of climbing up the stairs will give a spectacular view of the city. Busan was the most exciting trip that I had been since I have been here. The beach was beautiful especially at night.         (Hwaseong Fortress)
       (Busan)                
   (Global day – Texas booth)

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2nd month in Korea
 

South Korea blog #2

Taking classes at Soonchunhyang University has been easy (if you study and show up to class). Right now I am taking Korean writing and speaking, history, documentary, and lastly the scholarship program class; this class is somewhat similar to communications at Concordia. We had just finished up with our midterms and let me tell you, it is DIFFERENT. We have a curfew at 11:30 for our dorms but when midterm\finals happen they extend the hours to 1:00am. Koreans do not play when it comes to studying! All cafes, spaces in the library, lounge, restaurants etc. are all filled up with students with all of their textbooks from whenever class ends to 5am in the morning. My roommate stays at the library until 5am, takes a nap then heads to class (with her make up done with a cute outfit on). Also, to add another important factor Koreans do not get study guides nor do they have any idea what that is. Maybe I have been to spoiled in school to always think that I would get a study guide each time. Their schedules are so packed some have classes from 9am all the way till 6pm (or later) with little to no room to eat. When we do group projects at Concordia there really isn’t someone who has a “leader” role but in Korea the person who is the “team leader” has the MOST important role in that project. The team leader has to meet up with the professor either once or twice a week, sometimes they drink together. You’re probably thinking about how crazy that sounds when a professor drinks with their student but it is normal here. They also have events here called MT which stands for “membership training”. These are usually overnight and this is when everyone that is in the same major gets to know each other better…… by drinking. I have never been in a dorm before but I enjoy it (so far lol). Being on campus makes it easier to make friends and know the school better. Overall I feel like I have done so much walking here than I have ever done in my life. Our campus is on a hill with so many staircases. In Korea not many students have cars but they use buses, taxis, subway. I usually tend to stay away from buses\taxi when I am Minnesota because for one it is dangerous (in certain areas) second it’s way too expensive and thirdly because I have a car. Sometimes I wish I had my car to take me from place to place because or campus is so far away from everything. Shopping…… has been difficult. I love Korean fashion but it has been a tough and long journey. Most clothes come in free size which really isn’t that helpful especially if you’re on the thicker side of the scale. I am around  size 7-8 in pants but trust me you will not find anything, maybe if you’re lucky or in a bigger city (they try to cater to the tourist). Also, you can not try on anything that is either free size, a shirt, or dress. I love it here and I wish I could stay longer but time is ticking so I have to make the best of it.

52 days left.

 

Enjoy some average photos.

   

(coffee hour, Gwanju concert, cherry blossom, fish market, exchanges)

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Spring Month One
Well, that school vacation flew by! For the first part of the vacation, I had the opportunity to work in SCH’s Winter English Camp as a Classroom TA, which meant that everyday for three weeks I would work 8:30-5 with a class of 13 students. Basically my job was to manage the classroom so that the three different teachers (9 teachers overall, 3 different per week) could teach nine different subjects. I ate lunch with my students, and well, did everything with them for 3 weeks! It was a wonderful experience to see how smart and hard working these Korean kids are.  For the rest of vacation, I just studied for my upcoming TOPIK test (Korean Fluency test) and hung out with my friends. And now, here we are, one month into the spring semester! I cannot believe how great of a time I am having this semester! One great thing about this semester and this school is that the school is known for being beautiful during the spring! So I have been lucky enough to experience a spring for the first time EVER! (looking at you Minnesota who snows in April) There were blooming trees everywhere and now flowers are popping up all over the place!   My friends and I have been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery around up. I’ve been meeting a lot of wonderful people from around the States and Europe, who are making my time here so much more enjoyable! And my exchanges this semester are becoming dear friends to me as well. So, so far so good! I’m excited to see how the rest of the semester goes and to enjoy every last second I have before I come home.  

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Kaylee's first Korea blog
       

       SoonChunHyang University 

Today is March 25 2019, This is my first blog since I left Minnesota and since then I have been in Korea. Honestly, this is one of the best decision I have ever made. SoonChunHyang is in the city of Asan and in South Chungcheong province. When I first arrived in Incheon  it was about a two hour drive to arrive on campus. All intentional students are placed in “Global Village”, there are four international students in my suite and seven Korean female students as well. How is communication different with people from another culture?
  • Something that I can think of right now is how Koreans have their hierarchy system. Younger people have to always bow to their seniors and speak politely, if not people look down on them. Even though I have met some Korean people who do not care of this rule there are still may who do.
When it comes to food the most convenient way is walking to your local GS25, CU, Seven Eleven etc. When I am running low on money I pick up a Gimbap which cost roughly around $2-3. They also have bento boxes, they are a bit more expensive ($4-6) but it taste pretty good. This is a photo taken on our campus recently. Cherry blossom season is coming up and our school is famous for its cherry blossom on campus. They are not fully bloomed in this photo because it is still chilly here in Korea but cherry blossom season is around the first three weeks of April . I was comparing the weather between Korea and Minnesota and Korea is colder than Minnesota right now.                                                    I have not traveled that much yet but I have been to this lake located about an hour away from campus. This was very peaceful, not many cars or people; a good place to bring children. There were many aesthetic looking cafes and trails. My roommates and I rented bikes ($1 = 1 hour) and this was a better experience to see everything that wrapped around the lake. Unfortunately, it was a bit cold this day an we did not stay as long as we had planned to.   In Korean Kimchi jjigae is popular and at almost every restaurant you will be able to find this on their menu. This dish is not new to me but I find this is be very tasty. Sometimes, this dish can be spicy or they could put different meats; most likely find pork. Another dish that is very popular is Samgyeopsal (not pictured)f  , this is when you get to barbecue your own cuts of pork and eat it with lettuce.            The photo onto the left is the international students in my suite + Nara who was one of the Korean who used to dorm with us. Everyone is so sweet and outgoing. The photo onto the right is two international boys Jordan (Canada) and Kenneth (Iowa) and two Korean boys. Most Koreans that you will meet have a good understanding of English so it makes it easier to communicate. This photo was taken in Onyang. The farmer market only comes out every day that ends with the 9th. There were a lot of older people selling their fresh produce or food. In Korea fruits and veggies are expensive, for example a little bowl of strawberries would cost around $5 and apples would be $5-7. For transportation Korea has the train, subway, bus, or taxi. All of these options are pretty cheap and affordable. Before you could take any of these transportation you need a T-money card which is equivalent to a Metrobus card in Minnesota. When you take the taxi its better to go in a group of four to make the cost cheaper.

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Korea: Month Two
Fall was in full force by the end of October, which was strange for me because of how short fall is in Minnesota compared to here. I remember at the start of October getting photos from my friends and family of the snow back home. This month we had Midterms. Which the whole campus was under a “study” type of haze. You could feel the pressure and stress the Korean students felt. I was lucky enough to have half of my midterms done the week before actual midterm week. So all of my classes were done on the Wednesday of midterm week. Since I was being stressed out as well, I decided to take a  solo getaway to Seoul.  I took my time exploring the large and beautiful city. I explored not only the more tourist spots, but also found some very interesting museums and small, but beautiful parks. I went to the Seoul  Museum of Art as well as the War Museum of Korea. Both of them were thought provoking and extremely interesting. The war museum had so much about Korean history, I could have stayed overnight, just reading and learning.  But I did have to get back to campus. Once back on campus, we had our second “Coffee Hour” which is an event held once a month for all of the students in our program to get together and play games and socialize. This Coffee Hour was Halloween themed, and many people from all different cultures dressed up and came to celebrate! We also had Global Day, which is a school wide festival that happens every semester celebrating and sharing the many different cultures and countries that SCH hosts and homes. I was able to help with the India booth for a few hours. In that time I gave henna tattoos to people who would play a game in chance to win a tattoo. It was very exciting to see the different nationalities come together to learn about each other. Still, overall, Korea is wonderful. I am actually experiencing a fall and very much so enjoying my time here. 

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Finals and Traveling: Last Weeks in Korea
My last month in South Korea went by quick with finals and planning for my last days after finals are over. Final exams was more difficult than midterms, if you take Korean language classes. Midterms was more about the Korean alphabet and vocabulary whereas finals was about sentences, writing, and grammar. Looking back on the classes I took, I learned a lot and really want to keep up with learning Korean so that when I visit Korea again I’ll be able to communicate with the locals better. The instructors were really fun and were always willing to help students understand and answer their questions about why certain language rules are the way they are. Since finals was the second week of December, I pretty much stayed near campus for those two weeks and kept myself busy with studying and finding out my plans for after exams, since we do also have to find our own transportation from campus to the airport. The weekend right after exams ended a small group of friends and I went to Lotte World and Lotte Tower in Seoul. Lotte World is an indoor amusement park and has an outdoor part too which is a decent size. I’d recommend to come visit Lotte World at least once if you’re ever in Korea. The only issue we had is that since it was beginning December, the weather was cold. So, when we were exploring the outside part and in line to wait for rides, we were freezing. We stood in line for almost two hours for our first ride outside and I’d say it was worth it. What surprised me was how many of the locals were wearing skirts and no coats. Lotte World has a popular thing where you can go rent a high school uniform and wear it for the day while you’re having fun. So many people were wearing uniforms, but I guess it makes the experience a bit more fun. After spending most of the day at Lotte World, around 6PM we walked over to Lotte Tower, which has 123 floors and at the top of the tower you can see so much of Seoul. We even saw Lotte World from the sky view, which I will include a photo of. Although it was at night, we could still see so much and see the city lights. It was very beautiful. The four of us stayed in an airbnb not too far away and we also went back to Myeongdong to do some shopping. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate had already packed all her things and left and I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye.         After the weekend ended it was makeup week. Makeup week is a week where instructors could add an extra day or two of classes if they needed to in case the class was behind or they had to cancel a class some time throughout the semester. We were told when the semester started to not buy a plane ticket back home during makeup week because we don’t know if our instructors will be having a makeup class. I was taking a Korean Writing class on Thursdays, but one thing about this class for this semester is that Chuseok Holiday and National Foundation Day (major Korean holidays) landed on Thursday, so we had two less class sessions and the instructor decided to have them during makeup week on Tuesday and Thursday, even though we took the final exam the week prior. Before final exams even began, I knew I had to book an airbnb or hotel for my last few days in Korea since I would be busy during finals week and have no time to look. I wanted to do more things in Seoul that I didn’t get to do yet and also go back to COEX since I didn’t get the full experience last time because it’s so huge. I planned where I wanted to do most of my things, which ended up being in Gangnam. I knew I would also have to find a way from Seoul to the airport with all my luggage, so I kept it in mind when looking for places. I found it very convenient to stay at an airbnb right next to COEX because what’s right next to it is the City Airport Terminal (CALT). CALT is an airport transportation service. You can also check in there with your airline and bags. Depending on which airline you are using, they may or may not have the option for you to check in there, so it’s best to check their website and make sure your airline is available at CALT. I’d highly recommend using this to get to the airport if you want to stay in Seoul but also have a lot of luggage you don’t want to drag around with you. You basically check in your bags, go through immigration, and if you’re ready to leave to the airport just buy a limousine bus ticket at the machine and board the bus when it’s time. Keep in mind you won’t see your suitcases again until you land at your destination, therefore, you will not be able to see it at Incheon airport. I found this really helpful because I had two heavy suitcases and a carry on. After checking in my bags, I went through immigration, got my bus ticket, boarded, and left Seoul to Incheon. Since I completed most of the airport process at CALT, I didn’t have to do anything but go through security at Incheon airport then head to my gate. Overall the process was very quick. When I went to CALT, there was no line for baggage check and it was mostly empty. Thankfully they had my airline so I was really set on my plans for the remainder of my time in Korea. Hotels were a bit pricey for the area too and I was going to be staying for three days and two nights in Gangnam. Everything worked out though. For my last three days in Korea I left campus early Thursday morning with a friend to Seoul. I packed all my belongings and cleaned my room at least two days before leaving. We took the KTX train so we could get to Seoul quicker. The KTX train does have a luggage storage area for suitcases and larger bags. We were trying to go to House of BTS early so we wouldn’t have to wait long in a line later. She helped me carry my other suitcase all the way to my airbnb which I’m very thankful for and treated her to a late lunch later. After dropping off my bags at my airbnb, we went straight to House of BTS. It was my second time there, but her first. Since I wanted to go back and get new merchandise they released, I invited her to join me since she didn’t get a chance to go. We ended up having to wait two hours since it took a while for us to get to Gangnam anyways. We decided to eat curry for a late lunch and walk around the area to shop. We spent most of our time in Artbox getting last minute souvenirs for family before heading back to our lineup queue time. Once we entered the House of BTS, we got what we wanted and proceeded to the photo zones. This time I got to go to the top floor since last time it was raining and I think they closed off the part of it that was outside. After we got out, it was dark, but Seoul is known for its nightlife in some areas so we didn’t stop there. We went to Apgujeong Rodeo, which is still part of Gangnam and a place I really wanted to see. This area is known for their street fashion, K-Star Road, and shops. We happened to come across NANA’s piercing, which is a piercing shop many Korean idols come to and get their ears pierced, such as GOT7, Seventeen, Girl’s Generation, Monsta X, etc. Their walls are covered in autographs and short messages to NANA. I got my ear pierced here because I know I wanted a third piercing in Korea because it’s cheaper here. Surprisingly, it cost me roughly $15 USD for the piercing and jewelry. I think in America getting your ears pierced by a needle and not a piercing gun would cost a lot more. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, considering my fear of needles, and it also went by super quick. My friend watched the whole thing and told me she jumped a bit when they did it. We walked around the area a bit more but because it was getting late not many things were open anymore. From there we got on the subway and split up. She went to her airbnb and I went to mine. The next day I had a hair appointment in the morning that I scheduled online. They spoke English and had great reviews so I chose to go there to get my haircut. They washed my hair and it was the first time I had two people drying my hair at the same time. The one washing my hair asked if I like BTS and I said yes. We talked about our favorite members and going to their concerts. When I got back to Samseong station, which is the subway station I exit to my airbnb and COEX, I went to SMTOWN first. I think they were doing an event because I saw the hand prints of all the SM artists outside. The rest of my day was just shopping and walking around. Saturday was my last day in Korea. I was sad to leave but excited to go home. I definitely want to go back to Korea in the near future and meet up with the Korean friends I made. Some things I didn’t do because I wanted to experience it with family. Korea is a place I’d live in too if I get the chance. It’s an amazing country and I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.    

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Last Month in South Korea
My last month in South Korea went by quick with finals and planning for my last days after finals are over. Final exams was more difficult than midterms, if you take Korean language classes. Midterms was more about the Korean alphabet and vocabulary whereas finals was about sentences, writing, and grammar. Looking back on the classes I took, I learned a lot and really want to keep up with learning Korean so that when I visit Korea again I’ll be able to communicate with the locals better. The instructors were really fun and were always willing to help students understand and answer their questions about why certain language rules are the way they are. Since finals was the second week of December, I pretty much stayed near campus for those two weeks and kept myself busy with studying and finding out my plans for after exams, since we do also have to find our own transportation from campus to the airport. The weekend right after exams ended a small group of friends and I went to Lotte World and Lotte Tower in Seoul. Lotte World is an indoor amusement park and has an outdoor part too which is a decent size. I’d recommend to come visit Lotte World at least once if you’re ever in Korea. The only issue we had is that since it was beginning December, the weather was cold. So, when we were exploring the outside part and in line to wait for rides, we were freezing. We stood in line for almost two hours for our first ride outside and I’d say it was worth it. What surprised me was how many of the locals were wearing skirts and no coats. Lotte World has a popular thing where you can go rent a high school uniform and wear it for the day while you’re having fun. So many people were wearing uniforms, but I guess it makes the experience a bit more fun. After spending most of the day at Lotte World, around 6PM we walked over to Lotte Tower, which has 123 floors and at the top of the tower you can see so much of Seoul. We even saw Lotte World from the sky view, which I will include a photo of. Although it was at night, we could still see so much and see the city lights. It was very beautiful. The four of us stayed in an airbnb not too far away and we also went back to Myeongdong to do some shopping. When I got back to my dorm, my roommate had already packed all her things and left and I was sad we didn’t get to say goodbye. After the weekend ended it was makeup week. Makeup week is a week where instructors could add an extra day or two of classes if they needed to in case the class was behind or they had to cancel a class some time throughout the semester. We were told when the semester started to not buy a plane ticket back home during makeup week because we don’t know if our instructors will be having a makeup class. I was taking a Korean Writing class on Thursdays, but one thing about this class for this semester is that Chuseok Holiday and National Foundation Day (major Korean holidays) landed on Thursday, so we had two less class sessions and the instructor decided to have them during makeup week on Tuesday and Thursday, even though we took the final exam the week prior. Before final exams even began, I knew I had to book an airbnb or hotel for my last few days in Korea since I would be busy during finals week and have no time to look. I wanted to do more things in Seoul that I didn’t get to do yet and also go back to COEX since I didn’t get the full experience last time because it’s so huge. I planned where I wanted to do most of my things, which ended up being in Gangnam. I knew I would also have to find a way from Seoul to the airport with all my luggage, so I kept it in mind when looking for places. I found it very convenient to stay at an airbnb right next to COEX because what’s right next to it is the City Airport Terminal (CALT). CALT is an airport transportation service. You can also check in there with your airline and bags. Depending on which airline you are using, they may or may not have the option for you to check in there, so it’s best to check their website and make sure your airline is available at CALT. I’d highly recommend using this to get to the airport if you want to stay in Seoul but also have a lot of luggage you don’t want to drag around with you. You basically check in your bags, go through immigration, and if you’re ready to leave to the airport just buy a limousine bus ticket at the machine and board the bus when it’s time. Keep in mind you won’t see your suitcases again until you land at your destination, therefore, you will not be able to see it at Incheon airport. I found this really helpful because I had two heavy suitcases and a carry on. After checking in my bags, I went through immigration, got my bus ticket, boarded, and left Seoul to Incheon. Since I completed most of the airport process at CALT, I didn’t have to do anything but go through security at Incheon airport then head to my gate. Overall the process was very quick. When I went to CALT, there was no line for baggage check and it was mostly empty. Thankfully they had my airline so I was really set on my plans for the remainder of my time in Korea. Hotels were a bit pricey for the area too and I was going to be staying for three days and two nights in Gangnam. Everything worked out though. For my last three days in Korea I left campus early Thursday morning with a friend to Seoul. I packed all my belongings and cleaned my room at least two days before leaving. We took the KTX train so we could get to Seoul quicker. The KTX train does have a luggage storage area for suitcases and larger bags. We were trying to go to House of BTS early so we wouldn’t have to wait long in a line later. She helped me carry my other suitcase all the way to my airbnb which I’m very thankful for and treated her to a late lunch later. After dropping off my bags at my airbnb, we went straight to House of BTS. It was my second time there, but her first. Since I wanted to go back and get new merchandise they released, I invited her to join me since she didn’t get a chance to go. We ended up having to wait two hours since it took a while for us to get to Gangnam anyways. We decided to eat curry for a late lunch and walk around the area to shop. We spent most of our time in Artbox getting last minute souvenirs for family before heading back to our lineup queue time. Once we entered the House of BTS, we got what we wanted and proceeded to the photo zones. This time I got to go to the top floor since last time it was raining and I think they closed off the part of it that was outside. After we got out, it was dark, but Seoul is known for its nightlife in some areas so we didn’t stop there. We went to Apgujeong Rodeo, which is still part of Gangnam and a place I really wanted to see. This area is known for their street fashion, K-Star Road, and shops. We happened to come across NANA’s piercing, which is a piercing shop many Korean idols come to and get their ears pierced, such as GOT7, Seventeen, Girl’s Generation, Monsta X, etc. Their walls are covered in autographs and short messages to NANA. I got my ear pierced here because I know I wanted a third piercing in Korea because it’s cheaper here. Surprisingly, it cost me roughly $15 USD for the piercing and jewelry. I think in America getting your ears pierced by a needle and not a piercing gun would cost a lot more. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, considering my fear of needles, and it also went by super quick. My friend watched the whole thing and told me she jumped a bit when they did it. We walked around the area a bit more but because it was getting late not many things were open anymore. From there we got on the subway and split up. She went to her airbnb and I went to mine. The next day I had a hair appointment in the morning that I scheduled online. They spoke English and had great reviews so I chose to go there to get my haircut. They washed my hair and it was the first time I had two people drying my hair at the same time. The one washing my hair asked if I like BTS and I said yes. We talked about our favorite members and going to their concerts. When I got back to Samseong station, which is the subway station I exit to my airbnb and COEX, I went to SMTOWN first. I think they were doing an event because I saw the hand prints of all the SM artists outside. The rest of my day was just shopping and walking around. Saturday was my last day in Korea. I was sad to leave but excited to go home. I definitely want to go back to Korea in the near future and meet up with the Korean friends I made. Some things I didn’t do because I wanted to experience it with family. Korea is a place I’d live in too if I get the chance. It’s an amazing country and I didn’t want to leave. I wish I could’ve stayed longer.  

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Third Month Studying in South Korea
November 21, 2019 There is only about a month left for me here and finals exams are in three weeks and I have projects due in two weeks. With so much to do and trying to study as much of the language as I can before I leave, I’m not sure if I’ll have time to go out until after exams are over. I leave Korea on December 21 and will be landing back in MN on the same day, as Minnesota is fifteen hours behind (if not for daylight savings, fourteen hours). The time difference is one important thing to remember when traveling anywhere, so it’s something to keep in mind if you want to contact family back home. This month I did a lot and tried to fit everything I really wanted to do within the few weeks I had free time. The first place I went to this month was Namsan Tower. I’d say this is a must visit place when you’re in Korea and is a very popular tourist attraction. The tower can be seen from multiple parts of Seoul, depending on where you are. Namsan Tower is also a popular place where couples go and buy a lock to keep their promise to stay together forever. You write your name and the other person’s name on the lock and maybe a little message on it. Once you’re done, you lock the lock somewhere on the tower or railings and throw away the key, signifying that you and the other person will be locked together too. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a lover. It can be a group of friends, family, etc. When you get to the tower, you can either choose to go up by a rail cart or take the stairs. We took the stairs. There were a lot of stairs we had to climb, but we eventually made it to the top and the view was amazing. I went on a day with bad weather though, rain and fog. It would’ve been better if we went on a day with clear skies, but we were in Seoul and decided to go anyways knowing the weather was bad because we don’t know when the next time we could come is. Once we got to the top I purchased a lock for ten-thousand Korean won ($8.50 USD). When you look out from the top of the tower, you can see so much of Seoul. This is one of my favorite places in Seoul.   I’m glad I’m in Korea when BTS has just opened their ‘House of BTS Pop-Up Shop’ in October. I got a chance to go see it and grab some merchandise for my family back home and myself. I got to the location an hour before they opened and there were still people forming lines even a month after opening. I waited in line for about two hours. Once I got in I took a look around at the products and got to take some awesome photos at the photo zones set up. I spent at least a good hour inside, maybe a bit longer.   Another place I visited this month was the COEX Mall, in Gangnam, Seoul. This mall amazed me by it’s size. I feel like it’s much bigger than the Mall of America, and it doesn’t have an inside amusement park either. There are so many places to eat and shop inside. They have a movie theater and aquarium too and the aquarium pass is 10% off for foreigners. There are multiple levels to the mall, but due to time and wanting to go see other places, we could only barely get through looking around one floor. From there we walked to SMTOWN, which is right next to COEX. I took more photos here and loved this place, especially as a fan. SMTOWN is by SM Entertainment and holds artists such as EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and many more. They displayed their awards from shows here and sell their albums here. They also have their artist museum here and a cafe near the top floor with themed artist goods. Inside the cafe, there are tables and chairs signed by the artists themselves when they visited. I didn’t get a chance to see the museum as we were on a tight schedule. It does cost to enter the museum though, but I forgot to look at the price. I’d suggest for anyone who wants to visit the COEX Mall to make sure to reserve a whole day for it since it’s such a huge place that it’ll take time to get through the whole mall. I definitely want to go back and also see the aquarium. Starfield Library is in between SMTOWN and COEX. It’s the biggest library in Korea with over fifty-thousand books and very tall bookshelves. The biggest library I’ve ever been in. We only passed through it to get back, but I got some photos of what it looks like inside.   I got to go back to Myeongdong in Seoul afterwards. I don’t remember where exactly we walked to, but it was underground where you would enter to take the subway and we came across a Gundam store, to anyone who’s a fan of this anime series. It was at an awkward location underground around the Myeongdong area. Right across from the Gundam store is a K-pop store. They aren’t really in two separate rooms. When entering, it’s one huge room. What stuck out the most to me here is the touchable screens and walls. They displayed Korean idols and you can choose your favorite idol to be displayed. We did some more shopping there and ate great food afterwards. I think one thing about Korean food is that it almost always has some type of vegetable. They give side dishes for free too and probably depending where you go, there’s unlimited side dish refills. I can say that I will miss the food when I come back home.   I visited a palace in Seoul too. I forgot the name of the specific palace, but there’s more than one in Korea and in different cities. There’s even one in Asan, not too far from Soonchunhyang University. These palaces have been in Korea for a long time and say a lot about their history. I’ve always wanted to see one in person since I watch plenty of Korean historical dramas. Walking around the palace made me feel like I was a part of the history, surrounded by unique architecture and getting a feel for what it was like to live in such a place. I would also suggest to visit at least one palace when coming to Korea as it’s part of their culture and history.   From here I’ll begin studying for finals. I’m taking five classes, three of them in Korean language. I want to learn as much of the language and culture as I can while I’m here since it is Korea and I really want to become fluent in the language. I’m excited to come back home, but I know I’ll also miss the people I met here and the country. There’s so many things that are different and the same compared to back home. One thing about studying abroad is that it can change you. I’ve been told by my family that I’ve changed positively and have become more open-minded. They are also excited to have me come back and tell them about my time studying in South Korea.

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My third month in Korea

Third month in Korea

Hello, Currently it’s 2:30 here in Korea while I am writing this blog. Three months have went by so quick and It’s crazy to know that in about 22 days I will be leaving Korea. I know that I have not been here for long but Korea feels like home to me. Before, coming to Korea I was somewhat a homebody. I was too comfortable with what I did and where I was in life. This was my first time being independent and away from family and friends. Now that I am here I love being my own person and making my own choices without needing to ask for permission.
  When I was a little girl coming to Korea has always been a dream of mine. I only saw Korea through K-pop and dramas. Experiencing Korea in person is different from what I had imagined… I was living my fantasy through a small screen. There was and is still so much I have to learn about the Korean culture that you can not simply get.  I had became close with a Korean student in one of my classes and he told me that Koreans never have debatable conversations with their close friends because you do not want to make them upset, and that blew my mind. With that said, him and I had a deep conversation about gun laws, abortion, legalizing gay marriage etc. To my surprise he had really enjoyed talking about these topics . He had also told me that friendship here in Korea is held very high since families only decide to have one or two kids. He will be going to America for a year and wanted to know more about America; including slang. As an Asian American, we both are so different yet similar to one another. I am happy with all the international students that we have here in Korea. We have a group of diverse students from all over the globe. I have met so many and with each encounter I have with them it’s always something that increases the dendrites in my brain. They have pushed and molded me to become the best version of myself, sometimes we clash but we learn so much about each other and the culture.

Adventure time

Last month I did a lot of traveling around Korea! When you realize you are running out of time you want to make the most of what you have left. Thankfully, Korea has a good transportation system which makes it so efficient to travel. Hwaseong Fortress which is located in Suwon is beautiful. This fortress expands throughout Suwon and even goes up in the mountains but the end results of climbing up the stairs will give a spectacular view of the city. Busan was the most exciting trip that I had been since I have been here. The beach was beautiful especially at night.         (Hwaseong Fortress)
       (Busan)                
   (Global day – Texas booth)

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2nd month in Korea
 

South Korea blog #2

Taking classes at Soonchunhyang University has been easy (if you study and show up to class). Right now I am taking Korean writing and speaking, history, documentary, and lastly the scholarship program class; this class is somewhat similar to communications at Concordia. We had just finished up with our midterms and let me tell you, it is DIFFERENT. We have a curfew at 11:30 for our dorms but when midterm\finals happen they extend the hours to 1:00am. Koreans do not play when it comes to studying! All cafes, spaces in the library, lounge, restaurants etc. are all filled up with students with all of their textbooks from whenever class ends to 5am in the morning. My roommate stays at the library until 5am, takes a nap then heads to class (with her make up done with a cute outfit on). Also, to add another important factor Koreans do not get study guides nor do they have any idea what that is. Maybe I have been to spoiled in school to always think that I would get a study guide each time. Their schedules are so packed some have classes from 9am all the way till 6pm (or later) with little to no room to eat. When we do group projects at Concordia there really isn’t someone who has a “leader” role but in Korea the person who is the “team leader” has the MOST important role in that project. The team leader has to meet up with the professor either once or twice a week, sometimes they drink together. You’re probably thinking about how crazy that sounds when a professor drinks with their student but it is normal here. They also have events here called MT which stands for “membership training”. These are usually overnight and this is when everyone that is in the same major gets to know each other better…… by drinking. I have never been in a dorm before but I enjoy it (so far lol). Being on campus makes it easier to make friends and know the school better. Overall I feel like I have done so much walking here than I have ever done in my life. Our campus is on a hill with so many staircases. In Korea not many students have cars but they use buses, taxis, subway. I usually tend to stay away from buses\taxi when I am Minnesota because for one it is dangerous (in certain areas) second it’s way too expensive and thirdly because I have a car. Sometimes I wish I had my car to take me from place to place because or campus is so far away from everything. Shopping…… has been difficult. I love Korean fashion but it has been a tough and long journey. Most clothes come in free size which really isn’t that helpful especially if you’re on the thicker side of the scale. I am around  size 7-8 in pants but trust me you will not find anything, maybe if you’re lucky or in a bigger city (they try to cater to the tourist). Also, you can not try on anything that is either free size, a shirt, or dress. I love it here and I wish I could stay longer but time is ticking so I have to make the best of it.

52 days left.

 

Enjoy some average photos.

   

(coffee hour, Gwanju concert, cherry blossom, fish market, exchanges)

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Spring Month One
Well, that school vacation flew by! For the first part of the vacation, I had the opportunity to work in SCH’s Winter English Camp as a Classroom TA, which meant that everyday for three weeks I would work 8:30-5 with a class of 13 students. Basically my job was to manage the classroom so that the three different teachers (9 teachers overall, 3 different per week) could teach nine different subjects. I ate lunch with my students, and well, did everything with them for 3 weeks! It was a wonderful experience to see how smart and hard working these Korean kids are.  For the rest of vacation, I just studied for my upcoming TOPIK test (Korean Fluency test) and hung out with my friends. And now, here we are, one month into the spring semester! I cannot believe how great of a time I am having this semester! One great thing about this semester and this school is that the school is known for being beautiful during the spring! So I have been lucky enough to experience a spring for the first time EVER! (looking at you Minnesota who snows in April) There were blooming trees everywhere and now flowers are popping up all over the place!   My friends and I have been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery around up. I’ve been meeting a lot of wonderful people from around the States and Europe, who are making my time here so much more enjoyable! And my exchanges this semester are becoming dear friends to me as well. So, so far so good! I’m excited to see how the rest of the semester goes and to enjoy every last second I have before I come home.  

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Kaylee's first Korea blog
       

       SoonChunHyang University 

Today is March 25 2019, This is my first blog since I left Minnesota and since then I have been in Korea. Honestly, this is one of the best decision I have ever made. SoonChunHyang is in the city of Asan and in South Chungcheong province. When I first arrived in Incheon  it was about a two hour drive to arrive on campus. All intentional students are placed in “Global Village”, there are four international students in my suite and seven Korean female students as well. How is communication different with people from another culture?
  • Something that I can think of right now is how Koreans have their hierarchy system. Younger people have to always bow to their seniors and speak politely, if not people look down on them. Even though I have met some Korean people who do not care of this rule there are still may who do.
When it comes to food the most convenient way is walking to your local GS25, CU, Seven Eleven etc. When I am running low on money I pick up a Gimbap which cost roughly around $2-3. They also have bento boxes, they are a bit more expensive ($4-6) but it taste pretty good. This is a photo taken on our campus recently. Cherry blossom season is coming up and our school is famous for its cherry blossom on campus. They are not fully bloomed in this photo because it is still chilly here in Korea but cherry blossom season is around the first three weeks of April . I was comparing the weather between Korea and Minnesota and Korea is colder than Minnesota right now.                                                    I have not traveled that much yet but I have been to this lake located about an hour away from campus. This was very peaceful, not many cars or people; a good place to bring children. There were many aesthetic looking cafes and trails. My roommates and I rented bikes ($1 = 1 hour) and this was a better experience to see everything that wrapped around the lake. Unfortunately, it was a bit cold this day an we did not stay as long as we had planned to.   In Korean Kimchi jjigae is popular and at almost every restaurant you will be able to find this on their menu. This dish is not new to me but I find this is be very tasty. Sometimes, this dish can be spicy or they could put different meats; most likely find pork. Another dish that is very popular is Samgyeopsal (not pictured)f  , this is when you get to barbecue your own cuts of pork and eat it with lettuce.            The photo onto the left is the international students in my suite + Nara who was one of the Korean who used to dorm with us. Everyone is so sweet and outgoing. The photo onto the right is two international boys Jordan (Canada) and Kenneth (Iowa) and two Korean boys. Most Koreans that you will meet have a good understanding of English so it makes it easier to communicate. This photo was taken in Onyang. The farmer market only comes out every day that ends with the 9th. There were a lot of older people selling their fresh produce or food. In Korea fruits and veggies are expensive, for example a little bowl of strawberries would cost around $5 and apples would be $5-7. For transportation Korea has the train, subway, bus, or taxi. All of these options are pretty cheap and affordable. Before you could take any of these transportation you need a T-money card which is equivalent to a Metrobus card in Minnesota. When you take the taxi its better to go in a group of four to make the cost cheaper.

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Korea: Month Two
Fall was in full force by the end of October, which was strange for me because of how short fall is in Minnesota compared to here. I remember at the start of October getting photos from my friends and family of the snow back home. This month we had Midterms. Which the whole campus was under a “study” type of haze. You could feel the pressure and stress the Korean students felt. I was lucky enough to have half of my midterms done the week before actual midterm week. So all of my classes were done on the Wednesday of midterm week. Since I was being stressed out as well, I decided to take a  solo getaway to Seoul.  I took my time exploring the large and beautiful city. I explored not only the more tourist spots, but also found some very interesting museums and small, but beautiful parks. I went to the Seoul  Museum of Art as well as the War Museum of Korea. Both of them were thought provoking and extremely interesting. The war museum had so much about Korean history, I could have stayed overnight, just reading and learning.  But I did have to get back to campus. Once back on campus, we had our second “Coffee Hour” which is an event held once a month for all of the students in our program to get together and play games and socialize. This Coffee Hour was Halloween themed, and many people from all different cultures dressed up and came to celebrate! We also had Global Day, which is a school wide festival that happens every semester celebrating and sharing the many different cultures and countries that SCH hosts and homes. I was able to help with the India booth for a few hours. In that time I gave henna tattoos to people who would play a game in chance to win a tattoo. It was very exciting to see the different nationalities come together to learn about each other. Still, overall, Korea is wonderful. I am actually experiencing a fall and very much so enjoying my time here. 

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