Time Abroad: Fall 2007
I learned how the Chinese culture deals with conflict and what Korean food tastes like. I discovered that I can do things on my own and feel more confident in myself. This is totally cliché, but studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea changed my life - just ask my friends. I now feel more comfortable talking to perfect strangers and do not have any hesitation to be myself. I am finally becoming myself again.
My biggest challenge was when two of my friends and I went to Tokyo for a weekend. In Korea, everyone is eager to speak to you in English. In Japan, even in a big city like Tokyo, very few things were in English and everyone is hesitant to speak to you. I remember walking around this 2-block stretch of city for over an hour trying to find a particular gas station that sold tickets to a museum we wanted to go to. The map we were looking at was in Japanese and everyone we "spoke" to only pointed toward the general direction we were to go toward. I definitely learned to read body language well by the end.
I chose to go to Korea because I wanted a challenge. I didn't speak a word of Korean when I left Colorado, and by the end, I felt comfortable to go out by myself and order food, ask directions, etc. I went to Korea to be away from Americans as best as I could, which is why I chose ISEP. I had very good American friends while I was there, but I think it would have been much harder for me to meet my wonderful Korean friends had I been with a bunch of DU students. I was there to learn about the world, not party, unlike many of my friends. I did enjoy myself, but was learning at the same time. You can party anywhere, but being embedded in a culture completely different from your own is a once in a lifetime experience.