This summer I traveled for the first time to Seoul, South Korea to study at Hanyang University. Before this experience, when I thought about studying abroad, I thought it was for those who had a lot of money to spend and had nothing to do over the summer. However, what surprised me was how affordable my trip was.
The one trip that stood out to me was when I spontaneously went to Busan for 2 days and one night and during my time there, I had done so many amazing and new experiences. One thing on my bucket list is to go on a spontaneous trip anywhere and my trip to Busan was it. We bought our tickets to Busan the day of and called the hostel company to see if they had any more rooms left and to my surprise everything went as planned. When we got there we took a tourist map and did some researching on places we should go to while we were in Busan, the first place for us was the Jajalchi market. Busan’s most famous fish market. The fish market was known for having fresh seafood that you can pick choose and eat right then. We decided that since we were here we might as well try things we had never tried before and the kind lady that was trying to sell us seafood recommended a couple of things. We got the live octopus, live sea urchin, live abalone, live gaebul, and live sea cucumber.
There were definitely some favorites and not so great tasting ones. I really enjoyed the gaebul, the octopus, and the urchin. Did I mention that while we ate all of this all of the seafood was still moving? The octopus as the one that was the most interesting to eat. The workers warned us that you have to chew or else the octopus would get stuck to the inside of your mouth. I was a rebel and didn’t listen so I just let it happen and let me tell you it was a weird feeling.
The most challenging thing for me was adapting to Korean norms. As time went on, I became adjusted to norms and I know how to get around by myself. I remember in the beginning feeling really lost and scared. After a while of getting used to, I was less scared and knew how things worked.
Being back in my home country the hardest thing for me to adjust was the price difference and how drastically fast my skin became bad. In Korea, everything was cheap and did not have tax. I was able to afford to buy every meal because it was so cheap. When I came back I went to the nearest bodega and wanted to buy water. The water was $3 plus tax to the total was around $3.27. I do not carry 27 cents around, so in the end, I had to pay so much more for water and had a handful of change. In Korea water is 500 won which is equivalent to 43 cents for the same size and there is no tax!!!
All in all, last month has been the fastest month of my life and I highly recommend doing this study abroad program. I met amazing people, tasted incredible food, and experience the vibrant and rich culture. I would not trade anything for the experience I had in South Korea.
Alice Lin, an Electrical Engineering major, studied at Hanyang University in South Korea during summer 2017.