Why You Should Study Abroad

It has been one week and two days since I returned to the states. As soon as I got home I started working, which has been keeping me busy. I honestly miss Korea a lot. It might be too early to write this blog because I haven’t been home that long, but I can’t help missing my students and co-teachers. As for studying abroad I still feel the same way as I did in my last blog. I think everyone should experience it at least once in their lifetime for multiple reasons. Studying abroad is extremely beneficial for any student. It is a chance for students to learn from professors around the world, which can open up viewpoints or give different perspectives on things taught inside and outside the classroom. Studying abroad also shows the importance and relevance of diversity around the world. Not every university is like SUNY New Paltz, which I believe some people are not exposed to and therefore do not know how the world around them is different. A final reason I think everyone should study abroad is because it is the perfect opportunity to meet people from around the world. While in Korea I made numerous Korean friends along with people from the United Kingdom, California, and other states in America. Even though I was only studying abroad for 7 weeks the friendships I made will be friendships I have for a lifetime.


Even though it’s sad to think my time in Korea is over I am very blessed I had the opportunity to meet new people and study abroad. My experience in Korea reinsured my dream to teach ESL in another country. I will definitely be applying for jobs in Korea once my senior year of college begins.

Back to the States :(

My 7 weeks in Korea is over. Yesterday, I flew back and landed at JFK around 11:00am. Leaving my co-teachers and students was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my entire life. The past week has been a very emotional, but I am so blessed I met the people I did.

I don’t really know how I feel about being back in the states. I started to miss my family the last few days of the trip, but now that I’ve been home for a day I already want to go back. I loved everything about Korea and know I will someday return. If things are still as planned I will go back during winter break of my senior year to hopefully have a few job interviews for a teaching position the following fall after graduation. Normally I have a lot to write about, but this blog is different. I met some of the best people in the world and made so many amazing memories. I absolutely love all of my students and miss them immensely. All I can say is that studying abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made and I highly recommend everyone to do it.

Below is a picture of all of the teachers in the GV program along with the other students who joined us for the AP program (left top), a picture of my joined afternoon class with my co-teachers (right top), and then my joined morning class (left bottom)!

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Death Note the Musical

So my professor asked me if I have seen many musicals because I am from New York City, famous for Broadway. In response, I told him that I haven’t but I have seen 2 musicals while I was in Korea last year. Now that I think about it, I have seen a musical in my Freshman year of college through the SMP program. .. sorry professor I lied. When I told my professor that I haven’t seen any Broadway productions but have gone to musicals in Korea he was shocked. I guess there will be a day where I will get to see a Broadway production on NYC, but for now I’ll stick to Korea.
So recently, yesterday, I went to see another musical in Korea, Death Note. To be honest, I only really wanted to see it because of Xia JunSu (from the Korean boy band JYJ). I saw him last year in the musical Dracula and I just had to see him again while I had the chance. Sadly, I fell asleep on some bits of the musical this year and for Dracula last year. I should really invest in some binoculars because it was difficult for me to keep my attention since I couldn’t see people’s facial emotions. Nonetheless, their actions, singing, set, design, and costume, were good enough to satisfy the three stories amount of seating.
I really recommend attending some shows and musicals while in Korea because all three productions that I have been to have been well put together and up to my standards.
The only down side is that it will be in Korean, but if you know the story line it is easy to follow. If you don’t know the story line, the actors usually do a good job demonstrating it so that even if you don’t know Korean, you will be fine.


Clubbing in Hongdae!

Last night a group of students and teachers went to Hongdae to go clubbing. Everyone knows Korean clubs are the best so we had to experience it at least once. We decided to go to NB1 and NB2 because they are hip-hop clubs and play the best dancing music (most clubs play techno, but we all preferred hip-hop). Before 10pm it costs $10 to get in and after that until midnight it’s $15, which is still very cheap compared to others (from what we researched most clubs cost around $30 to get in). The cover fee includes entrance to both NB1 and NB2 along with two free drinks. First, we went to NB2. There are three floors and each one was packed to the max. The scene was insane and there was never a dull moment. I absolutely loved it and plan on going back my last weekend here. Half way through the night we went to NB1 across the street. The same type of music is played here, but it’s much smaller and hardly crowded. Besides size, the difference between the two is that people at NB2 never stop dancing while at NB1 more people are drinking and talking. People still danced, but not as much as NB2. There were also more foreigners at NB1 compared to NB2. Plan on having all eyes on you anywhere you go though because everyone knows you’re a foreigner and will want to dance with you, especially at NB2. We arrived to the club at midnight and did not leave until 5am. Arriving earlier is fine, but the most popular time to go clubbing is 1am-5am. The night went by so fast and was over before we knew it. I definitely recommend experiencing a Korean club! Just be prepared for the big crowd and non-stop dancing!

My Weekend Trip to Cheongpyeong!

This weekend was the first time I went on an overnight trip outside of campus! A group of us (teachers and students) spent the night in Cheongpyeong to explore the countryside and bungee jump for the first time! Cheongpyeong is very far from just about everything. We had to travel 2 ½ hours to get there and took three different types of public transportation. Because we only have class Monday-Thursday we left at 9:30am Friday morning. First, we took a short bus ride to Jukjeon station. Next, we rode the subway for just under 2 hours to Cheongpyeong. After that we had to take a taxi to the bus station where we then took a half an hour bus ride to our hotel. The traveling was exhausting, but definitely worth it.

Before taking a bus to our hotel we met a few more students at a local grocery store and did some shopping for dinner that night. We ended up spending almost 300,000 won for 14 of us… Needless to say we had a lot of extra food. By 2:00 we had made it to our hotel and finally got to relax and settle in. Some of us planned to bungee jump that afternoon because 10 more teachers were coming the next day to jump as well, but it was too windy out so we were not able to. As a last minute idea we decided to go to Petite France, which was right down the road. After spending a couple of hours there we made our way back to the hotel to start dinner.

Luckily, one of my students loves to cook so he was willing to do all the work for us. The food was delicious and we had an amazing night. The hotel we stayed at also owns a campground, which is right next to the hotel. Outside there is a swimming pool surrounded by a dance floor and neon lights. By 8:30 the lights were on, music was blasting, and the atmosphere of the campgrounds completely changed. Our entire group was drinking, eating, and dancing the night away. There were a lot of other people eating and drinking as well, but no one wanted to dance with us. After a short amount of time one group decided to jump into the pool and after that we all became friends. For the rest of the night we were swimming and dancing, having the time of our lives! I can honestly say I will never forget that night along with the people that I met.

The next day we all woke up to go bungee jumping. Almost everyone was scared, but a few of us only felt excitement. I’m proud to say everyone in my group did a fantastic job jumping and no one chickened out! After we all finished jumping we decided to go to Nami Island. Prior to going I had no idea what to expect, but am happy I went. The island is beautiful and definitely focuses on the beauty of nature. There were cultural music shows to watch, traditional Korean food to eat, and breathtaking landscape to look at. By 4:30 we were all exhausted and just wanted to go home. We bargained for a cheap dinner and then made the 2 ½ hour journey back to Yongin.


*Below is a picture of everyone in our group that decided to go bungee jumping, all of us at Petite France, and one of the many walkways on Nami Island!

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Academic Classes

I have officially completed my first week of classes. In the morning from 9am to noon I take beginner Korean. I have two different teachers throughout the three hours I am in the classroom. My first teacher is named Bae Hi Yeon. I can’t tell if she doesn’t know how to speak English or chooses not to because she only speaks Korean. She is with us until 10:45. After a short break we switch teachers. Her name is Han Sun Saengnin. She speaks some English, but talks really fast so it usually sounds like Korean and I can never understand what she’s saying. Overall, I am learning a lot in a short amount of time. Because this past week was our first week we only had three classes, but I have already memorized all of the Korean vowels and consonants. This language class is much different than previous language classes I have taken. I have never had a teacher who is teaching their first language and doesn’t speak English. I think it works in our favor because it only allows us to only hear Korean, but is also a disadvantage because it’s hard to ask a question when we don’t understand something. Even though this is a setback it doesn’t stop us from learning the language and is only a minor problem. Based on the amount of progress I have made this far I am very excited to see how much I’ll learn in the remaining 3 weeks!

In the afternoon I take Leadership Theory and Application from 1pm-4pm. My professor is from Michigan (U.S.A) and is really cool. So far we’ve learned multiple theories about what it takes to be a good leader and have done many self-awareness activities to help us recognize our strengths and weaknesses. After writing this blog I need to work on my midterm project and writing assignment that are both due this week!

Both classes are only Monday-Thursday so I have every Friday off. I love that the school schedules all of the classes like this because it gives us more time to explore Korea on the weekends. Two, three hour-long classes may sound bad, but they are over before you know it. I have taken summer classes before and think that they are much more laid back compared to classes during the fall and spring academic semester. With that said, don’t take a class for an easy A! There is still a lot of studying that needs to be done along with many important assignments.

*Below is a picture of all the characters I had to memorize in three short days (writing, reading, and speaking)!!!


Food Adjustment

Before I left for Korea I had my mom make all of my favorite meals because I knew I would miss American food. Prior to coming to Korea I never had authentic Asian cuisine so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In my college town there is a Japanese restaurant that serves a few Korean dishes, one of which is bibimbap. One day I decided to try it, but didn’t find it that appetizing. I didn’t think it was bad, but just very bland. This experience made me a little nervous about trying real Korean food.

Food wise, the first two days of being in Korea was okay. I enjoyed the meals I was served or ordered even though I usually didn’t know what they were. On the third day this completely changed and I had absolutely no desire to eat anything. All I wanted was American food and I didn’t even care what it was. I decided to skip breakfast and had pringles and bread for lunch. The pringles were nothing like American pringles either so that definitely bummed me out. That same day my fellow co-teachers and I moved to the Cheonan campus. After settling into our rooms we all went to E-Mart to explore the area and get anything we forget at home. While we were there I made my way to the food section to try and find an American snack. I ended up buying bananas and a bucket of fried chicken. It sounds pathetic, but I was desperate for “normal” food. After we were done at E-Mart our coordinator took us to dinner at a nice restaurant. I ended up ordering a rice cake and dumpling soup (pictured below: left). This was one of the best meals I’ve had in Korea so far and I ate every last bite of it. I was no longer hungry for the chicken so I saved it for the following day. A couple of days later a few students took me and my co-teachers out to a real Korean bbq (pictured below: right). So far this has been my favorite meal that I’ve had!

It has almost been a full 2 weeks since I arrived in Korea and I can definitely say I am more open to trying new foods. I found out that not knowing what I’m eating helps, especially when it comes to seafood. I can honestly say I really enjoy the food here and am excited to see what else Korea has to offer!


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My First Week Experience

It has now been a week since I arrived in Korea. After getting off the plane I was exhausted and could hardly function so it didn’t hit me that I was in a foreign country. Once I met other American students at the airport and talked with them I found out they felt the same way. As we were in the taxi driving to campus it still didn’t feel like we were in Korea. It just felt like we were in a different part of the States that we had never seen before.

As I mentioned before I am adopted. Even though my physical appearance looks Asian I feel like I am white because I have grown up with only white people. Before the trip I have been to New York City multiple times. Whenever I go to Chinatown or an area with a lot of Asians I feel like I am the minority as a white person. Because this is true I assumed it would be the same way in Korea, but to my surprise it is not. Even though it has finally hit me that I am in a foreign country I don’t feel as out of place as I thought I would. I honestly don’t know why and it interests me to why this is so.

Since it took a few days to realize I am in Korea I was not that excited at first. I was struggling to get over the jet lag and just wanted to sleep. I could always go to bed at a normal time, but would wake up at 4am and not be able to fall back asleep. Now that the jetlag is over I can enjoy and take in everything surrounding me and I am definitely excited I am here. Teaching also started this past Thursday and makes the experience so much better and stimulating. I absolutely love it and am sad to think it only lasts a few weeks. My students are amazing and really interested in learning about America. They look forward to spending extra time with my co-teachers and I outside the classroom as well. So far I find this true with most of the students in the program.

Below is a picture of my co-teachers and I on our first day of our internship and part of my dorm!

** For the first three weeks of my time in Korea I am living and teaching at the Cheonan campus and not Jukjeon. So, my blogs will be based on my experience in Cheonan. Starting July 13th I will be back at the Jukjeon campus taking classes for the academic program.

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June 24 – Jukjeon Campus to Cheonan!

Two Campuses. Why I am going to Cheonan Campus. Pros and Cons.

It was great to come back to Jukjeon campus – before I go further, Dankook University has two campuses. One in Jukjeon, closer to Seoul but it is in the Gyeonggi-Do province. While the other campus, Cheonan, in the South Chungcheong province. The past few days I spent in Jukjeon was great because I was able to spend time with friends that I made last year, and I was able to meet the new comers.

Since I stayed at the Jukjeon campus last year and spent many of my weekends or after class time at Seoul and traveling in that city, I thought it would be good to spend this year in a different setting. I heard mixed comments about the Cheonan campus, but none the less, everyone who went to Cheonan said that it was a great experience.

Some Pros I heard:
1) The air conditioning works all the time in the dorms.
2) You experience more parts of Korea.
3) There is a smaller group going to Cheonan campus, thus more bonding.
4) There is no hill at Cheonan campus, so there is no need for hiking!
5) Beautiful lake!

Some Cons I heard:
1) Mosquitoes/Bug problems.
2) Farther away from Seoul.

Right now I am sitting in a Korean 0.1 and am excited to be going to Cheonan campus in a few hours. 24 hours from now, I’ll be meeting my class that I will be spending the English Village with. The anxiety.

Next Post shall be about the first day in Cheonan!

Till then.

Flying with KoreanAir

Like I mentioned in my first post I don’t have any flying experience. Since I was nervous about finding my way around the airport I decided to fly with KoreanAir because they offer direct flights to Korea. There were pros and cons to doing so. I loved not having a layover, but a 14 hour flight was not ideal either. I originally chose an aisle seat, but changed it to a window last minute. I regret this and now know I am an aisle seat kind of person. Prior to the trip I Facebook messaged a student who was taking the same flight as me and is also studying in Korea. To our surprise we booked seats right next to each other. This definitely helped out my window seat crisis and gave us the chance to get to know each other.

Besides the regret of choosing a window seat flying with KoreanAir was a great experience. All of the staff was extremely nice and very concerned with our well-being. I would definitely fly with them again.

Below is a picture of our first meal. We had the option between chicken or beef bibimbap. After meeting other students who also flew with KoreanAir I found out we all had different meal options, but still had two or three meals to pick from. So I guess the food depends on what flight you choose. From left to right starting with the top row I had, spicy pickles, oranges, rice for the bibimbap, the vegetables and beef for the bibimbap, and seaweed soup. Everything was delicious and I don’t have anything to complain about. For dinner we had western food, which consisted of beef, chicken, or pasta, mashed potatoes, vegetables, tomato salad, a pretzel bun, and carrot cake.