About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Information Science
Program: Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Term: Spring 2021
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I've always wanted to study abroad at least once before I graduated and Spring 2021 was the perfect time as I just completed all my difficult courses and needed a change of space during the pandemic. I chose this program because it was through SILS and provided me with courses that would count towards my elective credits.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned many things throughout this experience both internally and externally. As the first time living abroad for an extended period of time without family, I was initially nervous about how things would go. But I met great people and can truly say those 5 months were the best months of my life. After getting through some small road bumps, I found out I was more capable than I gave myself credit for. I learned about various cultures/languages and experienced different foods. I also learned how to be a better cook, discovered skincare and bungee jumped for the first time!
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
There were many great memories so it's hard to choose just one haha. I would say my favorite would be traveling to Busan with friends and seeing a different side of South Korea aside from Seoul. We packed many activities within the 5 days we were there. One night we split up in groups to eat (at the time Korea only allowed 4 people groups) so everyone grouped together based on what kind of food they preferred. I was part of the group that didn't have a preference and we ended up choosing something random on the map. We went there and it turned out to be a relatively cheap 5 star restaurant with award winning Korean BBQ! We approached the individual rooms where we took our shoes off outside and sat on floor mats with a low table. Everything was decorated very traditionally and we were so stuffed at the end of the meal. Afterwards, we walked towards the beachside and on the way there we stopped by an ice cream place (one of the best we've had in Korea) and enjoyed the ice cream while talking and walking along the beachside.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
One advice I would give to future students would be to trust that others around you might be feeling the same way and remember to be there for each other. During the first few weeks I was in Korea, I experienced culture shock. I loved everything around me but because it was so different from the United States, I felt out of place and some part of me was surprisingly overwhelmed. One night a friend noticed and walked me to my room and had a very therapeutic talk. I ended up crying but it was well needed. He mentioned that he also felt the same way sometimes and we're all in it together to face the uncertainty and learn. My other friend joined shortly and said he was also feeling the same way and we all promised each other to share our problems if anything came up.
How do you identify?
Student of color, First Generation College Student