It’s been quite a while since I’ve traveled to Seoul. Since so much time has passed, it honestly felt as if I had never gone across the world this summer in the first place, and it had been a dream this whole time. From time to time I do reminisce about my experience in Korea and how it has shaped me into becoming a better human being.
For instance, just studying in Seoul made me realize how big of a role Koreans place on academia. While education is also pivotal in America as well, they valued academics a lot in it was definitely reflected on my university life there. For example, my accounting professor assigned four hours worth of homework everyday and expected everyone to complete it, as seen in the next day and the way he checked whether we did it or not. The class length also played in that, because they were about two hours and thirty minutes per class. Thankfully, we had a small lunch break in between. However, I’m grateful for this because it really did prepare me for this fall semester and how much studying I have to do this term to keep up with the class. It would have been a very rough shift had it not been for school life in Korea assisting in making the transition much easier.
Furthermore, staying in Korea definitely helped me practice my Korean and use my knowledge on Korean culture to its full extent. Prior to traveling here, I was learning Korean so that definitely did play a significant role in my communication here, and it made it for the better. Studying here opened my eyes to parts of Korean culture I didn’t already know, and it really helped in bridging that gap from my culture back at home and the culture I was staying at. For instance, I remember a week or so after we arrived in Seoul, we managed to get lost on our way to our friend’s jazz recital. I got the chance to practice my Korean with a part time convenience shop employee (and he got to practice his English) and my knowledge of Korean culture in how to go about this situation. While there were many awkward mistakes and silly missteps along the way. we figured out what the other was trying to say and we ended up making it. Moments like these really helped me prepare for my next semester at college here because it helped me realize that no one is born knowing things and that practice (and just as important, mistakes) is vital in going about our life effectively.
On top of that, in both Korea and America, everyday I used to constantly think of the similarities between the two cultures. Whether it be for something as casual as how to ask for directions or for something more complex such as comprehending social situations, I frequently noticed similarities and differences between the two. By doing so, I am able to use both perspectives to make a decision in a difficult and uneasy situations. For instance, figuring out Korea’s cross-country bus/train system in order to visit Busan, and understanding the history behind ancient Korean monuments. I’m really thankful for this trip to Korea because it helped strengthen my ability to synthesize information and perspectives and use them effectively in making decisions.