Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

Lovel Lee, ’25, is a Graphic Design major studying at Hanyang University this Summer 2023.

Some things I wish I knew was how humid the weather is during the summer in Korea. Even immediately after showering, you begin to sweat. I think its really important to bring clothes that are airy and also bring sandals because during the summer rain is very common and can mean soggy socks and shoes if not prepared. I also wish I did a bit more research on the place where I’ll be staying. Although it is an okay place, the air conditioning can be unreliable. One thing I really like about the place I’m staying at is the fact that it’s ten minutes away from Hanyang by subway. Your residence can really make a difference in your experience. I think some thoughts to think about is whether or not it is easily commutable and if it is in a place where a lot of things are. Although I wouldn’t stress so much whether it’s in the midst of a lot of activities because the public transportation in Korea is super efficient.

I also think realizing what is appropriate dress-wear in the culture is important. When I got off the airplane I realized Koreans dress pretty modestly. I didn’t realize how normal citizens dress and had a bit of a skewed perception based on the flashiness of K-pop idol outfits. I think it’s important to be mindful and just practice more thought in general on how you present yourself especially if you are female. I’ve had a couple of instances already in my first week of uncomfortable encounters. However, on that note, Korea feels a lot safer than Pennsylvania. I feel comfortable walking around at night. Although there are always bad apples it does feel generally more safe.

Another thing I wish I did was to make a detailed itinerary. Although it is a lot of fun just going on a spontaneous adventure to the nearest night market, mall, or restaurant, I definitely feel like having a detailed list can be helpful and make the experience to the fullest. However, I also think it’s important to be flexible and just leave days to go exploring with no rigid plan in place. I’m personally someone who loves going with the flow and finding things on the spot. It can lead to a more relaxed and organic experience.

Myeongdong Night Market

One final thing that I think is the most important is to set your expectations to match reality or just go in without imagining so much. I can be someone who really gets creative and imagines different stories of how things can be. However, for Korea, I didn’t think about what it might be like because I wanted to go in with a blank slate that doesn’t collide with what Korea has to offer. Instead, having this kind of mindset allowed me to really roll with every second and adapt easily. 

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