by
on August 26, 2015 on 8/26/15

Orientation Week in Seoul

Last week I was going through culture shock. Everyday tasks became difficult. One of these tasks was going out to by groceries. What caused me the most anxiety was that I felt that I was always under surveillance by the locals, in addition to my weak communication skills in Korean.
This week that changed. In order to survive, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. I picked my head up, and took a serious attempt to adapt to my surroundings. While I do make mistakes, I have became comfortable laughing at myself. Despite my grammar issues, I have become more comfortable getting my needs met by speaking Korean. For example, I purchased a meal plan at the cafeteria speaking Korean. The cafeteria staff were patient with me. Believe it or not, I understood them and they understood me. Holding my meal card felt like a small victory.
I moved into my dormitory 5 days ago, I met many of the other international students. While I do feel a little out of place amongst the Korean people, I feel more out of place amongst the other students from the United States. I was surprised after comparing our classes, goals, and expectations. Starting on monday, I will be taking 7 classes. 4 of them are business classes, the other 3 are Korean language classes. In addition to the heavy course load, I will do some volunteer work. For example, I tutor a student twice a week. Also, I am gathering more information about volunteering to spend time at an elementary school. I am also interested in delivering resources such as rice and water to economically disadvantaged people. My goal is in one or two years find employment in Korea, in three to five years attend graduate school in Korea.
For the most part, the other American students are more interested in socializing, sight seeing, drinking alcohol, and playing games. I will not judge them, but I also think I will not spend much of my limited time with them.
Cheers to a new week and the beginning of classes! I will spend the next couple days exercising and meditating, in addition to studying for the Korean language placement test. It is not always easy, but my short run goal is to keep myself as mentally and physically healthy as possible in order to overcome new challenges.