This was the longest I had been away from home. Surprisingly, I was only homesick for maybe one day, but I think my days were so busy between meeting new people, taking classes, exploring new cities, trying new foods that I didn’t have time to think about what I was missing back on-campus. Maybe because I also had to juggle certain responsibilities back in the EST time zone while living in KST and SGT (Korean Standard Time and Singapore Time), that I didn’t feel so disconnected to my “normal” life. I’m very thankful for living in a time with so much technology to make the world feel smaller!
What will I miss?
- Cafe Culture! Being open late, sometimes 24/7, having multiple floors, cafe-hopping, themed-cafes
- Street food vendors
- Lively baseball games and vibrant nightlife
- Clean, efficient, safe public transportation
- Low prices
- Quality convenience stores that don’t get robbed (Seven-Elevens!, G25s and CU’s)
- Considerate and polite culture
- Lots of free samples in Lotte Mart
- The friends I made
What will I not miss?
- The chocolate.
- Language barrier
- Having to use Papago all the time (a translator app)
- Standing out, looking like a foreigner all of the time
- Lack of diversity
- Roller coaster taxi rides
- 2 long flights to get home (10 hours from Seoul to Qatar, 14 hours from Qatar to Philadelphia)
I really wish I could speak Korean fluently, but I only got by with survival phrases like “Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “Excuse me”, “Where is this?”, and a few other short phrases when ordering in restaurants, saying yes/no, numbers…hand motions, translator apps, and students who spoke Korean helped me immensely. At least I knew how to read – knowing how to read was very beneficial, especially when requesting taxis or looking up directions, because not everything would be translated to English, so knowing what certain things said to make sure I was going the right way or not was pretty crucial.
Overall, I felt very safe despite not knowing the language fluently or knowing 100% my surroundings all of the time. For the most part, locals were very kind to me when I needed help navigating or looking for certain things. Very often people left out phones, laptops, even wallets unattended in public places with full confidence that nothing would happen to their belongings.
I really loved the program I was in because it was an international program, meaning that I met people from all over the world – 30 countries were represented in my HISS (Hanyang International Summer School) 2022 class! I now have a list of other countries I would love to visit someday based on conversations with students from this program. There were ups and downs, but I would definitely do another program like this if I had time. I am going into my senior year, so maybe an ICA (Intensive Course Abroad) is in the cards? This definitely made me want to travel more – not just for vacation, but for purpose, whether it’s taking classes, conducting research, or working. But until then, I will make the most of my last year at Drexel and remember my Korean + Singaporean adventures for the rest of my life.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.