Pre-Departure: South Korea

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

Last year, I turned down an opportunity to study abroad in Seoul to study in Tokyo instead. However, I will be returning to Korea this summer all thanks to the Fund for Education (FEA) Scholarship. I got accepted to study at South Korea’s number 1 prestigious school, Seoul National University (SNU)! There, I will be participating in a 10-week intensive program to learn about the Korean language and culture. I leave in 5 days, and I am so excited, nervous, and happy!

For 2 months, I will be living on campus at Gwanak-sa Dormitory, which is south of Seoul. I’m kind of bummed that I live really far from the heart of Seoul; it’ll take about 45 min to an hour to get to central Seoul to visit all of the hype places. But I can’t complain because I do have a lot of time exploring the city after classes. Classes would be held 5 days a week, 4 hours each day from 9am-1pm.

I have a strong passion for the Korean language and culture, and 2.) 12 credits will be transferred to my home university (equivalent to 3 classes)! On certain Fridays, the class will have cultural activities and excursions around Seoul! I am so excited! I am really looking forward to visiting traditional Hanok villages as seen in Korean traditional dramas! I suddenly became interested in the Korean Joseon history after watching Kim Soo Hyun’s big hit drama The Moon That Embraces the Sun. You should check it out if you haven’t seen it, yet. Athough I took Beginning Korean during high school through the Korean Language Flagship Center at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, I think I will sign up for Level 1 because I don’t remember much of the vocabulary and grammar.

Fortunately, I received an offer to live in Gwanak-sa, a dormitory on-campus, which I gladly took because I DO NOT want to be commuting to school. However, my university sits at the edge of Seoul, meaning I am far away from the ‘fun’ places. I am sort of bummed that I will have to commute 45-60 minutes in order to get to the central Seoul—the heart of Seoul. 

Originally, I had planned to attend in a full-ride scholarship program in Tainan, Taiwan to study Mandarin, but I ultimately chose SNU. Why? Well, it has always been a dream of mine to study Korean (because my university does not offer Korean) and live in Korea. Also, apparently, SNU ranks as South Korea’s #1 university, one of Asia’s top university, and one of the world’s best university (I believe SNU made it to the top 30 for best universities in the world). In Korea, there is a term called S.K.Y., which are the top 3 universities in Korea, which are S – Seoul National University, K – Korea University, and Y – Yonsei University.

I’m actually more scared than exited for this trip. One reason is because of my prospective roommate. Unlike my study abroad program in Japan, I’ll finally be having a roommate, most likely a local Korean. I’ve been wanting to have a local roommate because I want him to show me around Seoul, and be able to practice my Korean with him. My experiences in having roommates in the past were not pleasant, and I just really hope that this experience will be different. Another reason why I’m scared is because I am in a tight budget. When I was in Japan last year, I had a lot of extra scholarship to use, but this time, I do not have any additional scholarship. One thing I hope to learn from my trip is how to control and budget my money wisely. Lastly, I am concern about blending in with the Korean society. Korea is a very homogeneous society, but I hope that I will make a lot of Korean friends and bond with them.

These are some of goals to achieve while in Korea:

1.     Improve my Korean language skills

2.     Make at least 2 Korean friends, and 4 American/International friends (in the past, I had a hard time making friends in Japan because Japan is a very homogeneous society)

3.     Get an A in my class

4.     Eat live octopus tentacles

5.     Visit the school’s gym at least once-twice a week to stay fit (I have a lot of free time, hence I am done with class at 1pm)

6.     Sing at a norebang (karaoke)

Anyway, I need to start packing, so see you later in my next blog!