K in Korea: FAQ (better late than never, right?)

*Be forewarned, this is a long post!*

Hey everyone!

First of all (as is the theme for me and my blog) I want to send a sincere apology to those who waited for me to post about my Korea adventures on this blog. I have disappointed my fans (lol) and honestly myself, with my lack of updates. BUT, to be fair, I am a student and school will ALWAYS be my number one priority. So, instead of hearing about Korea while I was there, I am just posting about it now, after being home for a few months and really missing the country I called home this summer. I will most likely (but no promises) make a few posts about Korea, depending on what I feel really needs to be written about and I will also post a photo album of cool things I saw/did.

So, here’s how I’m gonna do it: in order to make sure this post is easy to read, I will write short blurbs on multiple topics (kind of like a Q&A style). This way, if there is a certain topic you really want to read about, you can find it easily. If I miss a topic or you have a question about a certain thing, feel free to shoot me a message or leave a comment! Now, let’s get started !

Why were you in Korea?

  • I was participating in a study abroad program in Seoul, South Korea for approximately 6 weeks. I was enrolled for the summer at Korea University (고려대학교), taking 3 courses (9 credits!!) for my major. It is basically an intensive summer program for those who want to study abroad but might not have the time to do so during the fall or spring semesters. It was such an incredible experience and since I had never travelled to East Asia before, it was a whole new realm (which brought with it so many challenges). However, I completely fell in love with the country and can’t wait till I find myself back again in Korea.

Where did you stay?

  • I stayed in an on campus dorm room (throwback to freshman year lol), which was about 15mins away from the building where my classes were held! There were also a TON of stores, restaurants and cafes surrounding my dorm and other parts of campus so I think I got the most ideal living situation. My roommate was pretty chill and we have actually stayed in contact now that we are both back in the states. We actually realized (a few hours after meeting) that we are both seniors at the same University, which is a funny coincidence. The room itself wasn’t huge, but it was a really comfortable size with SO MUCH built in storage (America take notes). That really helped make the room feel bigger, more spacious and gave me a place to keep all the junk I ended up buying (there’s a HUGE hole in my wallet now hehe). We had a HUGE window that brought in lots of natural sunlight, which also helped make the dorm feel home-y and spacious. The dorms there also had a full bathroom attached so we only had to share with each other and got a bathroom inside our room. The room opened with a keycard (which felt so high tech compared to the physical key I had to use my freshman year) and that same keycard would power our room and start up the wifi (wow, way to save energy! again, america, take notes). AND the best part was the convenience store that was just down the hill! I made a short video about it (because Korean convenience stores are the greatest), you can check it out here.

What classes did you take?

  • I took three classes encompassing the topics of art, literature and political history, all mainly focused from the latter half of the Joseon Dynasty (1800s) to present day. My day started off (on average) at 7am when I wake up to get ready for my very first class at 9am, History of Korean American Relations. In this class we discussed the relationship Korea had with it’s neighbors China and Japan, as well as the time in which foreigners from the west started to visit and change the course of history in the “Hermit Kingdom.” (I’ll stop here with the short history lesson of Korean diplomacy, but if you’re interested, I would LOVE to keep talking about it and teach you all I’ve learned; this stuff is incredibly interesting, I promise). Anyway, after this class finished, I went to my next class, Korean Literature and Culture. This was probably my favorite class (if I had to choose) because we got the opportunity to read tons of different literary works by famous Korean authors. We used literature to discuss the history of Korea, the societal issues that have plagued this country over time and how writers analyze their world through words. The discussions were thought provoking and I loved the professor, who really helped solidify my love for literature and taught me to analyze readings in a new way. After that class, I had a break for a few hours in which I either went back to my dorm room, got lunch with a friend or sat in a cafe near campus and worked on homework. My last class for the day was Introduction to Modern Korean Art. Out of all the classes I took, this was the class I had no previous experience in. I have never taken any sort of art class, let alone art history. And let me tell you, boy did it make me think! As much as I have always loved art, I never really thought about why, how and who created it. This class opened up a whole new world for me and I really loved that. I actually met my closest friend during the program in this class (if you’re reading this, I miss you girl) and without her knowledge (she is an art history major) I would’ve FLOUNDERED. We also got to visit a few museums and see the art we talked about in class, which was so flipping cool. I love art museums so getting the opportunity to visit some and see Korean art was honestly one of the highlights of my time abroad.

Can you speak the language?

  • I want to say yes, but I’m no where near fluent or even proficient. I am able to have basic conversations in Korean, order food, ask for prices/items/directions, etc. But I can’t have a full conversation in Korean and actually understand what is happening word for word. My listening skills did improve quite a bit after being abroad, and if I was there longer, I’m sure my speaking skills would have as well.  I am still taking Korean classes at my home university but I know my language skills will not be great for at least a few years. I did try to practice as much as I could when I was out and about, and since my roommate didn’t speak any Korean, I had to help translate for her and that helped me improve my speaking skills. I got lucky though and usually had a friend who was actually Korean and fluent in the language so they would help me out if needed. I (obviously) looked like a foreigner so even if I spoke to people in Korean, they would oftentimes respond in English, wanting to practice their language skills. It was super fun though to shock natives when I spoke to them in Korean. I loved seeing reactions to my trash Korean, but I think they just appreciated the fact that I tried. My broken Korean was plenty to get me around but I do want to be fluent one day. If any of y’all want to practice with me, please hit me up! I love learning new languages and practicing as much as possible.

Do you have friends?

  • I didn’t think I would make any friends, but I shocked myself and actually made some good friends that I still keep in touch with! I had 3 friends that I spent most of my time with, my roommate, my friend from art history and a friend I met during a trip to Lotte world. I’m not going to say their names in respect of their privacy, so this is how I will refer to them. I also had a few other friends that I talked to and hung out with, but these three were the friends I spent the most time with. I cherish the memories I made with them and am so thankful they actually wanted to hang out with me and my annoying self. If any of them are reading this, I just want to say, I miss y’all and I truly appreciate you for making my time in Korea even more memorable.

What did you see in Korea?

  • Oh my gosh, so many things. I will post some pictures up on a different post and talk about my experiences a little more in depth there. But for now, here’s a list of places I got to visit:
    • Lotte World
    • Busan
      • Gamcheon culture village
      • Haeundae Beach
      • A famous Jimjilbang
    • Gyeongbokgung Palace and square
    • So many different malls/ markets
    • The Han River
    • A Korean folk village
    • Jamsil Stadium to see a baseball game
    • Many of the famous districts in Seoul:
      • Hongdae
      • Itaewon
      • Dongdaemun
      • Myeongdong
      • Gangnam
      • Insadong
  • the list could go on…I can’t even remember what I am forgetting (and I know I am forgetting something)

How is the food?

  • INCREDIBLE.
  • LIFE CHANGING.
  • SO FLIPPING GOOD.
  • WOW I MISS IT SO MUCH
  • Even though I don’t eat meat, I was still able to eat a lot of good food and LET ME TELL YOU, Korea knows food.
  • If anyone knows how to make really good Korean food, PLEASE cook for me. I miss the food so much!!
    • It was so fresh, well seasoned, filling but healthy. And honestly, I miss getting Kimchi and other banchan (side dishes) with every single meal.
  • There was a really good Bibimbap cafe near my school where I went often
    • who doesn’t love a good bibimbap? it’s a staple dish, filling, delicious and always cooked with love haha
  • I also really love naengmyeon (cold noodles) and in the summer heat, they ALWAYS hit the spot. I would get naengmyeon all the time, it’s something I never got sick of.
  • I also really miss fresh kimbap, it is the perfect little lunch and the ahjummas (respectful term for Korean a married/middle aged Korean woman) that made it at the shop down the street from my dorm made the best dang kimbap I’ve ever eaten in my life.
    • they used purple rice and stuffed so many veggies and eggs in it and WOW my mouth is watering just thinking about it
      • The morning I left Korea, I ran down to that store to buy myself one last roll of kimbap for brunch and it was such a bittersweet moment… I was eating some incredible kimbap, but it was for the last time (how sad)
  • I could talk about food forever… so I will continue to talk about the great food
  • CAN WE TAKE A SECOND TO DISCUSS KOREA’S CAFES?
    • WOW WOW WOW 10/10  the coffee was always SO GOOD and since it was summer they had so many grapefruit drinks (and now I’m obsessed with grapefruit)
  • Also, Korean juices/ drinks are so fracking delicious … and also their snacks
    • I love convenience stores lol
  • AND
  • AND
  • AND
  • LET US TAKE A MOMENT TO DISCUSS THE BREAD
  • OH MY GOSH THE BREAD
  • IT WAS INCREDIBLE
  • France, I love you and your EXQUISITE boulangeries (bakery in French) but Korea is giving you a run for your money.
    • Both countries just have different styles of bread
    • Korea is just especially good at buns
    • France has the world beat with baguettes (obviously)
    • I just really love bread
  • Okay, I will stop with the talk about food, I’m sure you’re sick of it. I will gladly have this conversation though with anyone who wants to… there are so many Korean foods I tried and love and miss but I can only talk about food so much before people get annoyed lol

 

 

Alright, so I think I will end this first post here and call it good. There are obviously lots more things I can (and will) write about so I guess look out for those (no promises that they will be out soon. I have a LOT of schoolwork to get through before I can start blogging again). If y’all have questions or want me to write about specific things, PLEASE tell me. I would love to have a bit more direction with my writing, instead of the useless rambling I currently do.

 

Well, that’s all for now I guess.

Till next time,
K

 

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