I recently returned from my trip to South Korea and words can’t express how much I miss Seoul. I fell in love with everything about the city, including the busy side streets, street food, and mountains that surrounded the campus. I’ve wanted to study abroad since I was in high school and committed to South Korea once I began to minor in East Asian language studies at Indiana University. I spent months during the application process fantasizing about wearing hanbok in front of Gyeongbok palace or trying mandu from a street food stall. I did this and more, traveling to each of the country’s borders.
While I originally went to improve my Korean (which I accomplished), a majority of what I learned happened outside the classroom. My travels led me to places like Busan where I got to hear the difference between a Busan accent and a Seoul accent all while trying fresh seafood near Gamcheon folk village. Weekends were spent visiting different museums to learn about modern Korean art or the history of the Korean War. Going to restaurants would almost always result in me learning a new vocabulary word that I could use in my next Korean class.
The trip wasn’t always easy. I’ve never been abroad before and things started off with a bang when my flight to Korea was canceled. I arrived at the program a day late after managing to find my way to Seoul alone. Two weeks into the program my foot was injured and then infected so I had to rush to the hospital and navigate the international clinic. I’ve never lived in a city, so transitioning from rural Indiana to a bustling metropolis like Seoul took some time. But I wouldn’t trade any of these experiences because they gave me the most valuable thing that I will take away from this program: adaptability. I had to quickly adapt to new situations and as the program continued, I became very comfortable doing so, able to quickly come up with solutions to problems.
I’m very grateful that I was able to go to South Korea and am planning to return as soon as possible!