I feel my experience in South Korea began before I actually went there. At SUNY Oswego, I lived in a residential building called the Hart Hall Global Living and Learning Center and participated in the Conversation Partner Program which enabled me to meet international students from all around the world, including Korea. I was able to make connections and learn some of the language before starting my adventure.
My flight to Korea was surprisingly cheap (around ~$950 round trip) in exchange for a 7 hour layover in Tokyo. In total, it took me 22 hours to arrive in Incheon International Airport in Seoul. I was picked up by my mother’s old friend who happened to be doing physics research in a lab outside Seoul. He escorted me to an apartment owned by one of my friends from Oswego where I stayed for three days until it was time to move into my dorm room.
I lived in the Gwanaksa Dormitories in one of the oldest buildings on campus. To be honest, the accommodations were less than stellar, but there was a bed, a desk, and a bathroom which is pretty much all I needed. I had a roommate who was a Korean student and a freshman at SNU. We got along just fine and I still talk to him today.
I took three classes at SNU, but one of the classes was worth 6 credits. The first course I took was Korean Language and Culture and it was taught by, to my surprise, an American guy from Long Island, NY who had been living in Korea for the past 20 years. My second course was Korean Linguistics which was basically the linguistics of Korean taught in English. I was rather relieved at how easy it was, especially compared to some linguistics courses here at SUNY Oswego. The final course I took was an Intensive Korean Language course and was worth 6 credits. The class was held everyday Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 10 weeks. I paid extra tuition to take part in the class and it turned out to be one of the most draining and difficult parts of my experience. In the end, I don’t regret taking the class as I was able to learn more Korean language in a short amount of time than if I had done anything else, but it was definitely a challenge I did not expect.
There is a club at Seoul National University called SNU Buddy and this club is what truly made my experience as amazing as it was. The way the club worked was that there were 10 groups in place, with each group containing 7-8 Korean students who were assigned 3-4 foreign students as their personal buddies. I was part of Group 4 and my personal buddy had one other foreigner buddy. The groups were assigned leaders who were meant to plan, along with the other buddies, daily events and larger trips for their group. Also, SNU Buddy as a whole planned several events where every member (around 250 of us) would participate. Sometimes, groups would collaborate on events, but most of the time, you stuck with your group. I was very fortunate to be a part of Group 4 as I met some of the greatest people I have ever met before in my life. They are truly what made my experience fantastic and wonderful and everything in between.
Basically, my whole experience was go to class, meet my friends, go out at night, rinse and repeat. I won’t go into detail right now about all the events and trips that SNU Buddy planned, but maybe in a future post? For now, I’ll leave it here and follow up next time with part 2 where I’m going to talk about what I did after the semester ended and I decided to extend my trip by 1 month.Thanks for reading!
Next time: My experience abroad part 2…
Korean Word Lesson (KWL):
*네 & 예 forms are deemed more polite than 응 & 어 forms*