Guest post by Rachelle Pierce, a Foster senior studying Marketing. She studied abroad on exchange at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
I’ve been back in Seattle for a few weeks now, but I can’t help to miss the country I called home for four months. Studying abroad in South Korea will be an experience I will never forget. I am extremely grateful for the people I was able to meet and for the unforgettable opportunity to emerge myself in a country I have been longing to visit.
With nerves and excitement, I flew more than 10 hours to the place I would call home for the next few months. Upon arrival, I unpacked my bags into the cabinets of my tiny shared room at Yonsei University’s International House then took off to explore the area around campus. My first night in Sinchon was one I will always remember. The streets illuminated by store signs were packed with people and pop music could be heard everywhere. All I could smell was tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) and hotteok (Korean sweet pancakes). One thing I was surprised by is how life in Korea starts late in the day but lasts throughout the night. You could walk through Seoul without seeing anyone on the street at 9:00 am and will get stuck walking through crowds at 11:00 pm. Clubs around Seoul would also stay packed until around 4:00 am or whenever the subways would reopen.
As a woman traveling alone in a foreign country you are usually worried about safety, but as I stayed longer in Seoul I realized there was very little I needed to worry about. While people usually kept to themselves they were not scared to ask for help or directions and those they asked were more than happy to help one another. I could even leave my things in a café without worrying if it will be stolen because the people are empathetic about the things they work hard for.
From my experience, abroad I have learned to be open minded and to show compassion to everyone I meet. I learned you will receive the most if you truly immerse yourself in the environment around you. I would also recommend to take advantage of the time you are there and enjoy as much as you can. I look forward to my next trip to South Korea and showing my friends the country I love.