Monday, September 21, 2015

"Seoul" Searching

Hello all! I am Alyssa and I am currently a senior majoring in psychology.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Destination: Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea

Korean Language: I do not speak any Korean.

Length of Study: August 2015-December 2015  

Why: I chose South Korea because I wanted to go somewhere completely different from Columbia, Missouri, USA. I wanted to see the differences between the collectivist and individualistic cultures, experience different traditions, and overall experience a different lifestyle. In short, “go big or go home.” I have always wanted to live in a hugely populated area because I have never had the opportunity with my hometown or my college town, having populations of 300 and 108,000 respectively. In contrast, Seoul has over 10 million people. Lastly, I wanted to study abroad at a destination where, without university affiliation, I might otherwise be scared to travel due to the language barrier and culture.

Side note: I have also never been outside of the United States so I did not know what to expect nor did I really have expectations. The idea that I chose to study abroad for five months in an Asian country shocked people when they learned I have never been outside of the country

Journey to Seoul
On August 23 I left my house at 3 a.m. in order to catch my connecting flight to Chicago and finally to Seoul. I did this after sleeping for an hour because I did not pack until 11 p.m. the evening before and spent my last few hours with my friends and family. After the 28 hour journey I ended up at Konkuk University on August 24 at 9 p.m. due to the 14 hour time difference.

I did not have jet lag like I envisioned. I transitioned fairly well due to my arrival time. However, I was quite tired after not sleeping during the entire journey so I was sleeping a lot during the day as well as night. Konkuk University does not offer any psychology classes. However, I registered for classes I thought would be interesting and of value towards my chosen profession. I registered for all of the classes I wanted to get into. The problem arose once I went to class and realized although the classes were supposed to be taught in English, they were not. I am currently in other classes, although I had to keep one class which lectures in English but the class discussion is in Korean. The last difficulty which I was not expecting to encounter was making friends. I am the only native English speaker in my classes but also the only exchange student in all of my classes except for one (Korean language). The Korean students are very timid to use English and seem to avoid speaking English as much as possible.

 The City of Seoul

Seoul is a beautiful city, the capital of South Korea, and has a bigger population than New York City. Apart from traveling to classes, I have explored the area around the university, went to parks, attended a concert and some festivals, and have seen some of the major sights of Seoul. Above is what a typical street looks like in Seoul.

I was excited to attend my very first concert and a K-Pop concert at that! For those of you who do not know me, I have listened to K-pop for a while and have wanted to attend a concert! The concert I attended was free concert in the Olympic Stadium and it had some of my favorite bands, including Girls Generation and Block B (among others)!

I also went to Han River with my friend Min, who was an exchange student at Columbia College. There was an amazing view and they have paddleboats which look like ducks! These paddleboats can be taken out on the River by anyone and I cannot wait to do it!

One of my favorite sights has been Grand Children’s Park, where they have a zoo and a fountain light show, among other things. The light show was absolutely stunning and like nothing I have seen before.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,
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