Stress and State of Mind


In the beginning, after first arriving in Korea, I never even considered whether I would or would not be able to make new friends. Following my first week or two things seemed to only get worse, I was so afraid that I would never make friends. The language barrier kept me from having really deep conversations with people that I wanted to be close too or sometimes I would have a conversation with someone and would end only after they complimented me on my Korean, (which was surprising since sometimes the only things I had said prior to their statement was a simple greeting.)

I had not so far handled culture shock very well that I have adjusted to new living situations, school assignments, and finally made some new friends it feels like a new point in my study abroad experience. After going to more and more events in the following weeks I found myself opening up to a lot more of the foreign students, then I met quite a few Korean students after attending a meeting with the German Language education program, (the program that my Korean Language program arranged our exchange program with,) and I started chatting with some of the freshmen I met at the event. It was a huge relief. I learned that when it comes to socializing I love meeting new people.

It was something, as someone who once considered herself to be an introvert, that was extremely surprising. I became aware of the fact that I was someone who craved interaction and attention. Therefore, since coming to Korea, my lack of interaction really began to affect my mindset, I started to view everything very negatively, I was too scared to go out and participate in events alone or go sightseeing alone. Then I would feel frustrated at myself and at my lack of courage and would only stay at home and blame myself. Yet, after meeting new kinds of people and opening up, I felt myself being more stress-free and happy.

I think it was also the fact that my lack of Korean language practice thus far in Korea had been limited to ordering food or talking to foreign friends in broken Korean. But, then I made more friends in my Korean class who I was able to speak to entirely in Korean, (only one girl in my Korean class is American and can speak English.) One of the girls I met is from China and her Korean is not only amazing but because she has lived in Korea for seven years, it is also extremely natural.

I am so glad to have met her because she agreed to do a language exchange with me where for an hour a week I can practice my Chinese, then she can practice her English, and the remainder of the time we usually communicate using only Korean. It was the exact type of experience I had been looking for in Korea because my primary goal was to improve my Korean language skills.

This weekend, me, my Chinese friend, and a few other friends from other classes even agreed to go and see the cherry blossoms in either Namsan (남산)

or Bongeunsa (봉은사)!

I realize now that just studying is not all there is to study abroad, it never was, and that to have a really good time abroad then you need to really go out and have fun!