Studying abroad for me began a little bit differently than it did for most people. When going to the study abroad fair, I had no idea that I would be applying to study abroad in South Korea that same day. In between studying for midterms at UTC and working full time, I was busying myself with paperwork in order to spontaneously go across the world.
I believe that with the help of my program, ISA, my stress from continuously needing to meet deadlines for the required paperwork was greatly minimized. I chose to go through this program because they were always willing to help! I was constantly using my program management team for help throughout my whole application process, and they were always willing to give me it! They constantly gave updates on my application and were very quick to respond to any and all questions that I may have regarding my paperwork, my host university, and everything else!
Being an Environmental Science major, the options for my study abroad experience was a little more limited than what most are given. I chose to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea for a few different reasons. When I was growing up, a very close family friend of my Dad was always there for me. This man, named Nam Lee, was adopted during the Korean War. He is from North Korea through, not South. He always spoke to me about Korea and how amazing it was. He would show me pictures from his vacations and would cook Korean food for me to try. This gave me insight on how amazing South Korea truly is, and peaked my interest for the country and it’s culture. Another reason I decided to study in Seoul was the fact that I am someone who wanted to truly challenge themselves. If I was going to study abroad, I wanted to truly go abroad. I wanted to go all the way across the world where English is not the primary language! This decision led me to South Korea because although the primary language is Korean, most Korean students are now taught basic English beginning in early childhood. Even though I had to get through a tough language barrier, I knew that I could do it! Korean’s are also very kind, so most were willing to help me out whenever I needed it! I greatly appreciated the help that I received!
The university that I chose to enroll in was Korea University (고려대학교). Korea University is among the top three universities in South Korea. The other two being Seoul National University and Yonsei University. KU’s campus was, in my honest opinion, the prettiest out of the three. The students there were friendly and so were the professors! My classes were all taught in English, as KU has a strict policy that around 40% of all classes must be taught in English! One thing that KU has that truly made my experience in Korea the best it could possibly be, was KUBA.
KUBA is the acronym for Korea University Buddy Assistants! It is the foreigner program at the university. It breaks the foreigners into groups of 8, about 100 students each. Each group had a certain number of native Korean students as well, one being the group leader! My group was Group 1! Our slogan was “One&On1y!” and our group leader was named Park Junseong (박준성). All of the foreigners were also given one specific ‘buddy’! This buddy would be your friend, most likely your first Korean friend that you make in Seoul! I was very blessed to have such an amazing buddy! Her name is Baik Hyewon (백해원). She is one of the kindest, funniest individuals I have ever met! She truly made my time in Seoul the best.
KUBA was the center of my time at KU. There were weekly excursions where they would take us to different places around Seoul. The first excursion we did was Lotte World! This is a very famous amusement park in Seoul. It was an exciting experience for me, as I got to enjoy it with all of my new friends!
Some of the places that I visited truly stuck with me. One of those being Namsan Tower. It is a gigantic observatory style tower located on a mountain in Seoul! It is very culturally rich, with temples and showcases daily to teach tourists the history of Seoul! While walking towards the tower, one will see many locks hanging onto the rails and fences along the way. These are known as love locks! Many couples who travel to Namsan Tower decide to lock their love for eternity by placing a lock onto the fence surrounding the tower, it is so romantic! Another place that stuck out to me was Naksan Park. It is this gorgeous park adjacent to Naksan Tower with walls surrounding it’s edges. At night time, one can see the city lights of Seoul and feel the fresh air of nighttime. It truly was one of the most beautiful sights I came across while in South Korea.
Sadly, I did not get to venture outside of Seoul! There was so many things to see and experience in Seoul itself, that I ran out of time to visit outside the city. I hope to go to South Korea again and visit Busan and Daegu one day!
My advice for anyone who is one the fence about studying abroad, just do it! There are so many scholarships waiting to be used! Do not let this chance go! Memories await you to be made!
Madison Brown is majoring in Environmental Science and spent the Spring 2019 semester studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea through ISA. Madison had the following to say about studying abroad, “The memories and friends you make while abroad will always be with you. Cherish them forever!”
Share this post: