Last summer I studied abroad in a very traditional place: Italy. This summer, I yearned for a bigger culture shock, so I decided to go as far away as possible. As I began my adventure to Seoul, I was excited to immerse myself in a new culture (and maybe even master using chopsticks).
Upon arriving, a few things were very apparent. One, Seoul is a technology hub. With Samsung accounting for a large majority of South Korea’s GDP, there is no shortage on technological advancements. This is apparent as soon as you set eyes on the city. I was immediately surrounded by millions of people walking while staring at their phones. Yes, we look at our phones quite a bit in the states. However, it is nothing compared to Seoul. It has gotten so bad, that there are signs painted on the side walks warning you of the dangers of not paying attention to the streets you are walking on. The second thing I realized right away, is that for the first time in my life, I was a clear minority. Even in my classes, I was one of the few Caucasian people. Furthermore, I was one of the even fewer with above average height, blonde hair, and blue eyes. Needless to stay, I was going to be quite the anomaly for six weeks. About twice a week, I was approached by locals asking where I was from and why I was here. People asked to take pictures with and even of me. Little kids stared, pointed, and hid from me as if I were an alien. The last thing that was apparent as I began my journey through Seoul was I definitely got the culture shock I was seeking. Everything from eating to weekend festivals all had a new feel. I was as wide-eyed as a little kid in a candy shop.
Overall, the six weeks continued to bring me new challenges and rewards as I navigated my way through the unknown. I am so privileged to have the new perspective that this trip has given me. The biggest reward, however, has been my increased thirst for knowing the world. One of my favorite quotes about travel is “I am in love with places I have never been and people I have never met.” As I return from my adventure, I felt this way. I have the endless need to travel and Im grateful that U of L provided me with that opportunity.