My visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace has been one of the best experiences of my study abroad trip thus far. Out of the five palaces within South Korea, Gyeongbokgung is the biggest one of them all. The buildings have been standing for centuries now, with the palace being designated as a historical site in the 1960s. The grounds are intricate and were way bigger than I initially envisioned. There are countless passage ways, gates, buildings and setups that provide a visual look into the Joseon dynasty.
TEAN, my affiliate program, covered the expenses for us to rent hanbok (traditional Korean clothing). Entrance into the palace is free for visitors who are dressed in hanbok! The hanbok we could choose from came in various colors and designs. The workers were extremely helpful with fitting us, doing our hair, and accessorizing our outfits. While the process was very lighthearted and fun, I was also genuinely grateful being able to share the experience of dressing in hanbok. Of course, the hanbok that’s offered in rental shops are a lot different than ones from the Joseon era, but they represent how dressing has shifted and evolved throughout the centuries. Hanbok comes in so many different styles today, with modern clothing designers taking inspiration from both old and new fashion styles.
While walking through the park, my group and I had various Korean citizens welcome us to Korea personally. They asked where we were from and what we were doing while here! We had multiple people offer to take our pictures; everyone was extremely welcoming and nice. I was very happy to be able to experience and practice someone else’s culture in a way that was appreciative and respectful. My perspective of South Korea is slightly even better after this experience at Gyeongbokgung. At first I was worried about the attitudes that Korean citizens held towards foreigners after hearing the occasional “horror” stories, but walking around the palace felt very welcoming. As the time continues to pass I feel more and more adjusted and welcomed to Seoul! I’m anticipating more of these cultural outings, as I feel like they provide the most meaningful experiences during study abroad.