I never thought I would have the opportunity to spend a semester in South Korea! It seemed unreal as I opened my acceptance letter into Yonsei University’s Global Village Program. I felt joy! Followed by excitement! Then curiosity… and questions... And then I realized, I had no idea what to expect. What is unique about Korea? What is the Korean culture like? I didn’t know it at the time but I would return home with a true understanding and love for this mysterious country I was about to experience.
Yonsei University is located right outside of the city of Wonju. Being outside of the city, the college sits by a beautiful lake, surrounded by rolling mountains and trees that turn pink every Spring from the cherry blossoms. Yonsei has an amazing program called Global Village that I was fortunate enough to be involved in. I was one of ten “International English Ambassadors” who roomed with other Korean Global Village students who participated in the program to improve their English skills. All of us “GVers” lived together on the same floor and we all became really good friends by the end of the semester. For our two GV field trips we went to beaches, ancient villages and temples! By attending weekly team meetings and mutual mentoring sessions with my fellow Korean friends, dorm and tuition fees were waived and a stipend was given to us for our participation in the program. It seemed too good to be true! The GV Program was the reason I was able to afford to study abroad; no doubt.
In my four months living there, I was able to explore and learn about South Korea’s fascinating history, language, traditions, and people. I loved being thrown into their incredibly unique culture! I’ll never forget singing karaoke at noraybangs, trying their famous kimchi and soju, and spending the night in jimjilbangs. The food was spicy! But I grew to love it. I now miss sitting cross-legged on the floor at restaurants, sharing a dish of food with my friends while slowly learning how to use chopsticks.
I was so lucky to be able to travel and visit so many of Korea’s amazing places. At the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), we were able to see North Korea and walk through an infiltration tunnel from the Korean War. We also took multiple trips to Seoul, Korea’s capitol, where we could enjoy the city life. Jeju Island was one of my favorite excursions. We enjoyed the ocean, climbed Korea’s largest volcano, and went scuba diving! I’ll also never forget going bungee jumping, white-water rafting, visiting Everland Theme Park, partying at the World DJ Festival, and having countless good times with new friends.
The possibilities in South Korea were endless! I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to study in Korea. It was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and if I ever have the opportunity, I would return back in an instant. My advice to you is to take a chance! Choose to study in a place that most people would not think of going. I didn’t regret it, and neither will you.
As I was about to board the plane to London, England, I was filled with excitement and had no idea what to expect. But crossing the pond was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. Because London has some similarities to New York and there isn’t a language barrier, it was easy for me to feel right at home. But with the lovely British accents, the red double-decker buses and the reversed direction of driving, I still got the chance to experience some of the cultural differences. I learned that “uni” means university or college, and “quid” is similar to “buck” in America and refers to the British pound. I found myself quickly adapting to these changes and even started saying these phrases without realizing it. These simple things helped me to embrace the London lifestyle to the fullest.
Living in a student accommodation complex in central London seemed to be ideal for my stay there. Only being a five minute walk from King’s Cross/St. Pancras, which is a major international train and Underground station (or Tube station, as they more commonly say), I was able to get pretty much anywhere around the city with great ease. This was perfect when it came time to visit the extensive markets, popular shops and restaurants, beautiful royal parks, and famous sites like Big Ben and Tower Bridge. And when it comes to the laid back lifestyle of Europe versus the fast-paced city life, London has the best of both worlds. You can go shopping at some of London’s most renowned stores on busy Oxford Street, and within 20 minutes, you’ll be in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens kicking back with a picnic or taking a peaceful stroll.
Another beauty of being in London is its central location within Europe. This opened the doors for so many traveling opportunities. While I was abroad, I visited 11 other countries, including Italy, Germany, Scotland and Greece. I had the chance to experience new languages, new foods and new histories. Also, not only was I able to meet new people in London, but I now have friends from all over the world that I met while on the road. My experience abroad has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself and other cultures. I have been inspired to travel, learn and experience as much as I can, and I even hope to move back to London in the near future. Living in another country opens your eyes to a new way of life and can change your perspective of the world. I highly recommend everyone to take advantage of these opportunities and explore the unknown. Studying abroad is something you will not regret and never forget.