This summer, I was lucky enough to spend four amazing weeks in Seoul, South Korea at Hanyang University. I’ve wanted to study abroad since freshmen year but with the intensity of the nursing pre-requisites, along with my extracurricular activities and work, I was worried that I wouldn’t get the chance to go. The summer program at Hanyang University was a great compromise because I wouldn’t miss any classes or club commitments.
Another great thing about the Hanyang program was that it is an international summer school so not only did I meet Koreans, I got to meet people from China, Spain, and the Netherlands. In fact, one of my closest friends that I met in Korea was from Singapore. I learned about a lot of different cultures from my classmates and I was able to connect with them through our shared first experience in Seoul.
The most difficult part of my trip was managing my schoolwork with going out and exploring the city. The course load at Hanyang is very intense; especially with Binghamton students being required to take at least two classes (adding up to six hours of classes a day, Monday to Thursday). I distinctly remember sitting in my Korean class with my classmates, all of us wondering how fast midterms stuck up on us. Also, because I was taking a language class, I spent hours inside the library memorizing vocabulary words to pass my weekly quizzes. The courses that I took at Hanyang taught me a lot and were very rewarding but I had to learn to balance my schoolwork with my desire to go out every night; especially since there was always something to do, whether it was grabbing dinner with classmates or going to a concert.
Seoul is a bustling metropolis, with neighborhoods as unique as the ones in New York City. You can push through the crowds at Myeongdong and end up in a quiet side street lined with artisan coffee shops filled up young college kids. You can go to Itaewon to get some Korean barbeque but wind up window shopping at the numerous Turkish bakeries just streets away from the Itaewon station. While Seoul is a crowded city, there are still places to go to enjoy nature and get away from city life. Hiking in Seoul is a truly unique experience. Seoul is very mountainous and while hiking can be extremely difficult, making it to the top and being able to see the whole of Seoul was one of the most rewarding experiences of my trip. One of the most notable things was how nice and neighborly, the locals were. While I’m in the city, people generally left me left alone unless they were shop workers, trying to lure me in, but while I was hiking, people were saying hi and were happy to help if I had questions or if I got a little lost. Seoul is one city but it comes in so many different flavors that anyone can find something that they like doing.
Rosenna Chan, a Nursing major, studied abroad at Hanyang University during summer 2017.