Reflection on the First Two Weeks in Seoul as a Study-Abroad Student
Hello everyone! I'm France, a student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, currently studying at Yonsei University for the 2023-2024 academic year. I can't express how thrilled I am to be here in Seoul.
It's been over two weeks since I arrived, so I think it's a good time to reflect on my experiences here.
One of the most significant adjustments for me has been the size of the Yonsei Sinchon campus. I come from a small liberal arts college where you can cross campus in just 5 minutes. Here, it takes me that long to reach the first intersection on my way to the main Sinchon campus. Because of this, on days when I have pre-recorded lessons, I often stay in my dorm because I'm not keen on walking to the main campus and back hours later. However, it's worth noting that I might be saying this partly because the weather is still quite warm, ranging from 26°C to 31°C (80-88°F). I'll provide an update once the weather cools down.
The people here in Seoul are friendly, but you should be prepared for some curious stares. As a student who has studied and continues to learn about Korea and the Korean language, I've had many interactions with people who appreciate my efforts to learn their language, just as they've put in the effort to learn a few sentences of English. One of the most common phrases I hear from older individuals I meet is, "너를 한국어 잘 말해요!" (You speak Korean well!) However, there are times when I can't help but notice that people are looking at me, probably because I'm a foreigner who doesn't look Korean. I've started to ignore it because I know it's something I'll likely experience throughout my time in Korea.
The shopping culture here is robust, so be prepared if you have a shopping addiction like me. Coming to Korea is a shopper's paradise! There are countless stores in every neighborhood, and even when I don't intend to buy anything, I often end up with bags full of purchases. Most things here are very affordable. Korean cosmetics and skincare products are particularly cheap, and I can't resist them. The Korean fashion scene is constantly evolving, offering endless possibilities, so once you find a store or neighborhood that suits your style, you'll keep going back for all your fashion needs.
Regardless of the challenges and the joys, I'm still incredibly excited to be at Yonsei and to be in Korea. Studying abroad in South Korea is truly an enriching experience, and I can't wait to embrace everything this country has to offer!