Student Reflections: Session 2, Week 3

Authored By:

Jennie Gold

This is our final blog featuring student reflections for the HSSA Gaming & Esports Culture program here in Seoul, South Korea. It’s been an exciting and challenging and engaging time here during our three-week program and while we’re sad to see the students leave, we know that the lessons and experiences they’ve gained from this experience will go far beyond our time together.


For those of you who have been waiting to see your student featured, now is the time! 

Meet Niamh, Brendan, Quinn, Elian, and Kevin - our final group of Gaming & Esports Session 2 students.


1. If you could use one word to describe your time in Korea so far, what would it be?

  • NIAMH: Enchanting

  • BRENDAN: Extraordinary

  • QUINN: Informative. I have learned a lot about Korea's culture, people, and general everyday things as well as the Esports business.

  • ELIAN: If I could use a word to describe my trip to Korea, it would be “magical”

  • KEVIN: I think that Korea can be described best as being different.


2. Tell me about one challenge you’ve faced so far and how you dealt with it. 

  • NIAMH: At first, I felt I didn’t fit in with the people in my program. But over time, I learned that despite our differences we all shared many hobbies and interests. I am grateful for the people I have met and the friends I have made. 

  • BRENDAN: One challenge I’ve faced so far in the past 3 weeks of this program is that I contracted Covid for 4 days, which led to me being quarantined in my room. At first, I felt like I wasn’t getting as much as I could out of this program. But luckily my wonderful program leaders were able to secure a way for me to learn from a safe area which was an online zoom call. This allowed me to continue learning while also interacting with my friends the same amount as I had previously. The program leaders also made sure that we were being well fed, with them bringing us breakfast, lunch, and dinner without fail everyday.

  • QUINN: The COVID incident was definitely a big challenge. Thanks to the cooperation of my peers and the CIEE staff, we were able to quarantine and safely recover.

  • ELIAN: Most days presented a challenge, but they were learning opportunities. Learning VMix (for the tournament) was a challenge I worked on and eventually overcame by figuring out how to use it.

  • KEVIN: One challenge would definitely be having COVID - both getting it myself and having it spread between the group. I think we've handled the situation pretty well and even though we weren't able to host the League of Legends tournament because of it, we moved on and looked at other opportunities.


3. Tell me about a fun or unique experience you’ve had.

  • NIAMH: Meeting Joy (one of our “SeoulMates”, high school students currently enrolled at Gen.G Global Academy) was one of the best experiences since coming here. Her bubbly personality while sharing different cultural experiences made meeting her unforgettable.

  • BRENDAN: One fun and unique experience I had was interacting with all the different people in both programs, along with really being allowed to explore the bustling city of Seoul and learn about how the people who live here conduct their daily lives.

  • QUINN: The small Valorant / Overwatch tournament we had at the Gen.G PC Cafe was definitely a unique and fun experience. I ended up winning the Overwatch tournament, but not the Valorant one.

  • ELIAN: It would have to be the first photo challenge. It was when I began really talking for the first time and I enjoyed it, so I actually socialized and also because getting to explore Seoul was a very fun experience.

  • KEVIN: One unique experience would definitely be the in-house Valorant and Overwatch tournament we played at the Gen.G PC cafe. It's rare that the average gamer can compete in such a competitive setting and I really had fun with it. If I could, I would definitely participate in a similar event.


4. What is one thing or lesson you’ll take away from this entire experience?

  • NIAMH: One thing I have taken away from this trip is the willingness to follow your passions in the face of adversity.

  • BRENDAN: One thing that I will really take away from this entire experience is expanding my connections and learning how to network with people that could be of help to me. I believe this to be one of the, if not most, important skills one can have no matter what profession one might choose. Interacting with the people around you will also create memories that you never thought would’ve came into light and see different cultures from every part of the world.

  • QUINN: That I like Korea more than America. Walkable infrastructure and clean cities are definitely something I'll miss in Houston.

  • ELIAN: Firstly, as I have mentioned, this trip is the first real time I’ve ever socialized or spoken more than a couple of words, so it was an extremely eye opening experience on that front. Secondly, being able to experience Korean culture was a journey of its own - I even learned to use chopsticks. In regards to the Esports aspect of the trip, I learned about how games function as a corporation while maintaining relatability with its audience globally. Also VMix is a very helpful tool to know how to use!

  • KEVIN: One lesson I've learned is to put myself out there more. I think I've developed my social skills really well here and I think I should take more risks in the future.


On behalf of myself and the other CIEE staff and leaders, I want to thank you for entrusting us with your students over the last three weeks. We hope that the students have made lifelong connections with each other, have gained a wider appreciation for the world around them, and have learned lessons that they will apply throughout the rest of their lives. We wish them nothing but the best in all their future endeavors and who knows? Maybe we’ll see them again in Seoul in the coming years through one of CIEE’s many programs!