My program is over, but not my adventure in South Korea. My summer program ended on July 22, but I plan to stay in Korea until September. Luckily I have a friend who I will be staying with now that my program is over so I have even more time to explore and do what I wanted to do here. However, my program is over and I have since learned a lot about South Korea and myself.
A few things I learned:
First, Map Naver is my saviour. Navigating through South Korea would not have been as easy as with her. Navigating Seoul’s complex subway was made so much easier than he would have tried alone. It provides metro arrival times, which station you need to go to, which exit you need to leave from to get to your destination, and much more. Basically, if you are coming to South Korea, I HIGHLY recommend downloading Naver Map to get around.
Second, you’ll spend a lot more money than you think just to get seats. The easiest and cheapest way to get around is to use public transport. However, it will cost you more than you think. An absolute must is the T-Money card, which will allow you to use public transport in Korea. You will use it to scan and pay for every trip you take, whether by bus or metro. You can also use it to pay for taxis and even at convenience stores. You can put in larger sums in cash at the various station recharging kiosks or smaller sums. I recommend that you put at least 10,000 won at a time because it’s quite easy to travel 5,000 won just by going between two places because the base fare for the subway is around 1,250 won with additional charges depending on whether you go further. This base rate also varies from city to city, which you should take into account when budgeting.
Third, having a list of things you might want to do is more useful than not planning anything at all. While coming up with minimal concrete plans is fun because it just lets you explore and do things at your own pace, it’s really helpful to have a list of things you might want to do and can. refer you. There were many times when my friend and I wanted to go out somewhere but didn’t have any particular destinations or places to go. It made it hard to decide what we wanted to do so we ended up wandering around a lot of times and then realized there were some cool places we had seen online that we could have visited and used better our limited time here.
Fourth, DO NOT TAKE THE FULL COURSE LOAD! I took three classes, the maximum possible, during my program at Hanyang, even though they warned us not to. After the first few days, I regretted not having dropped any. Each class was three hours long and we had a one hour lunch break, but I hadn’t considered how tiring it would be to attend the nine hour class plus the drive between my accommodation and the university. In total, I spent about 12 hours going to class and commuting. This meant that I was usually so tired when I came home from class that I really only had the energy to go to dinner and rest. The only saving grace was that we only had classes Monday through Thursday, so there were no classes on Fridays. I could still do a lot of exploring on the weekends, but I wish I had only taken 2 classes at most to fully enjoy my time in Seoul.
Along with the things I learned in Korea, I also felt more comfortable with myself, who I am, and what I like and dislike. I think coming here has helped me understand my limits and overcome them. I’ve been able to spend time outside of my comfort zone without the people I know and love back home, which has forced me to be myself around so many different people. I discovered things that I hadn’t realized about myself before, for example, I’m a great Korean barbecue cook, according to my friends, and I’m also pretty good at navigating places even if I don’t. I’ve only been there once before. I even became the guide for a group of friends in Hongdae when I myself had only been there once. It was a real confidence boost knowing that I could easily lead a group of people and decide where we could go while keeping everyone safe and making sure they were having fun. I hadn’t really had the chance to lead a group of people like that back home, but now I know I can.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience with the program and being a student in South Korea, and I would happily do it again. I encourage anyone who is considering studying abroad, however slightly, to do so. Even if you think you can’t, investigate a little more, and there might be an unexpected way to study abroad! I myself was only able to study abroad because I received two scholarships, so exploring your options and talking to someone about studying abroad can put into perspective how it can be possible .
Now my adventure in South Korea continues, and I hope everyone can start their journey!
Thank you so much for following my journey!