After orientation week, we came back to Seoul and moved into the student dormitories at Yonsei University. A group of upperclassmen showed us around the campus, it was so huge it took a few hours just to tour through the main areas. Since I attend a college that does not have a traditional campus it was really amazing to finally get that experience of going to classes in multiple buildings and hanging out with friends at the student centers. The best part about taking summer classes in Korea was making friends from all over the world. I met students from all over the United States, The Netherlands, France, Brazil, Canada Nigeria and of course local Korean students. Over the course of six weeks, I studied acting, Korean, and Korean history and culture. Though it was difficult balancing my time between my homework and exploring Seoul, I truly enjoyed all of my classes. Each course helped boost my confidence in my Korean speaking and comprehension abilities, for my final project in acting, I even performed an entire scene in Korean with one of my classmates. It was incredible!
During our time at Yonsei University, CIEE continued to take me and the other participants on little excursions in the city. We watched movies together, went to a baseball game, visited Nami Island and we even went to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). The trip to the DMZ was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I had this summer. The American soldiers stationed there, walked us through the history of conflict between North and South Korea and they gave us a tour of the facilities. When we were passing by the North and South Korea border, a North Korean soldier had stepped outside to surveil us. It was really unexpected but the American soldiers made us feel more comfortable by making jokes and encouraging us to take pictures. Afterwards they told us that a few years ago they discovered a tunnel that was dug by North Korean soldiers, in an attempt to invade the Seoul. This tunnel was turned into a tourist site, which we got to explore. Unfortunately no pictures or video were allowed, but I remember it was quite scary venturing through a narrow tunnel hundreds of feet below the surface. By the time I reached the end of the tunnel (at least the end for tourists) the air was much thinner and I had to bend down to avoid hitting my head on the rocks overhead. Climbing back up was incredibly difficult. After I came back to the entrance, I felt extremely proud because even though it was physically exhausting, it was definitely worth it.