안녕하세요/Annyeonghaseyo/Hello! I’m back from studying abroad in South Korea! If you asked me what my summer plans were during my finals, I would have never guessed that it would include South Korea (or even studying abroad period) but I’m glad I was given the chance. It was an extraordinary experience both in and out of the classroom. I encountered my first research experience, ate amaaaaaazing food, learned about Buddhism at my first temple stay (!!!), ice-skated with my Korean classmate from Virginia Tech in Seoul, and of course had a great time making new friends.
I love South Korea. When I was a kid, the only Asian countries in my head were Philippines (because I’m Filipino), Japan (because of Pokémon), and China (because all of my classmates had never heard of Philippines, they called me Chinese). South Korea was never on the map for me, that is, until middle school when I started listening to their music. Now I’m an obsessed college student and can’t wait to go back!
Here is a list I compiled of the 10 Things I Loved about South Korea:
10. The Food. My cousins would take my siblings and me to Korean restaurants a lot so I’m no stranger to South Korean cuisine. When I arrived in the US, it was as if I never left. Only this time I knew what I was eating! haaaa.
Patbingsoo (팥빙수) photo by Lily
9. Muuuusic. On the night before our final exam, our university hosted both f(x) and Super Junior! I forgot the reason for the celebration but there was a long (LOOONG) line leading up to the stadium/field/track area which is where the stage was set up. It even blocked our way to our dorm!
Super Junior photo by Lily
OK, to be fair I didn’t attend this concert (I was studying!) but my favorite pianist, Yiruma, is from South Korea. My friends and I got to play some of his songs!
Photo by Lily
8. The DMZ. I was really surprised that this was even on our itinerary. There’s a joke we had that the South Korean soldiers were my friends (since I’m a cadet) and that this was my “home” lol.
Entrance to the Third Tunnel
My friend Fasi and I as we rode up a mini cable car to the Peace Center which overlooked North Korea. We weren’t allowed to take photos once we got up.
7. Seoul. I loved Seoul! Everything was accessible by their subway system. It reminded me of DC because it was teeming with tourists. This yellow guy is named Haechi Seoul, Seoul’s mascot.
Click on image to learn more!
This is Seoul Tower which is the location where couples latch padlocks to represent their love.
Seoul Tower photo by Lily
6. Temple stay at Woljeongsa. Our last stop was a Buddhist temple where our group participated in a temple stay. We ate vegetarian meals, learned about the history of the temple, drank tea, made prayer beads (which consisted of bowing 108 times each time we strung a bead), and walked in the forest. Here is a photo of us after the boys swept the grounds and the girls pulled weeds (or something).
5. 소주. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ!
4. My roomates. I knew very little about South Korea but luckily my Korean friends helped me out, especially my roommates Clay (without glasses) and Seung Won (with glasses).
Us in Seoul
After closing ceremony
3. Meeting other students from other countries. I love learning about other cultures, that’s why I’m pursuing international affairs. That’s also why I was excited to learn that there would be students from China, Indonesia, and Malaysia joining us (the Americans) and the Korean students!
Foreigners only in this picture
A little bit of everything in here!
2. This thing, whatever it’s called. Just lounging around? I guess you’d call it that. Before we went to bed, some nights we would go to a room and…..relax. Nothing more. Eat some good food and chat away. I’m going to miss this when I return to my own dorm.
1. Last but not least, the people. I am “me” because of these students!
Our closing ceremony photo. Our medals were hand painted on none other than Pinus koraiensis! ha!
- Sprinting from the subway station to our dorm in Seoul in a matter of eight minutes (a 20-minute walk) so we won’t be charged for being late to dinner!
- Our surprise birthday cake and song for Yuan on the night before our final. The look on her face!
- Meeting my Chinese friends at the airport before my departing flight. It was our last time seeing each other!
- One Luv Club
- Korean class
- Not shaving my face for 2/3 weeks. hnnnnng
I just really miss Skorea, okkkkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey~ After I left, I traveled to the Philippines to meet my family, but that’s for a different post. It was the first time I had ever flown alone internationally!