Another installment to our Q&A Series dedicated to our returning students. Hear their thoughts from best to worst and everything in between.
Graduating this December as an EIU Finance major and Economics & Biology minor, Missy decided to study abroad this past summer in South Korea. Originally from Coles City, IL she ventured off to the South Korean city of Suwon where she studied at Ajou University for a month long program.
Q1: FOOD , your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?
I loved the food in Korea, so picking one best dish is difficult. I absolutely loved Topokki, which is a spicy dish that included rice cakes. The rice cakes were delicious and the best way to describe them would be comparable to a thick, chewy noodle. I’m a terrible cook so I didn’t come home with Korean recipes, but when I’m craving one of their dishes I find myself going out of my way to dine at a Korean restaurant here in the states.
Q2: PLACES , talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
During my travels I was able to visit the capital of Seoul, Korean Folk Villages, Buddhist Temples, and even spent a few days on Jeju Island, which were all incredibly beautiful places. My favorite me-time place was the picnic tables area in front my dorm. Surrounded by trees and chirping birds, it was there where I would spend my mornings drinking coffee and reading my book because I found the spot to be quite soothing.
Q3: TOP SECRET , did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.
A few of the Korean students lived in the surrounding area so they pointed us to some of the better local food places. They took us to a melting pot type restaurant where each table would cook their own food of beef, seafood, or vegetables. It was delicious! Another great spot they showed us was a barbecue restaurant. In South Korea the barbeque doesn’t include barbeque sauce, but simply the grilling of the meat. At some restaurants you grill the meat yourself along with cooking kimchi eggs along the outside of the table, which were also very good.
Q4: NOPE , are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?
One of the few things I don’t miss is the lack of outdoor garbages. For whatever reason, they just weren’t that common in South Korea. Usually a pile of garbage would just occur throughout the day around one location, but I couldn’t bring myself to just leave my garbage sitting there.
Q5: YEP , you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
I was most homesick for coffee while abroad. I was given coffee singles from a girl I had met while I was out there, but most of the coffee had sugar or sweetener added to the mix, which made it too sweet for my liking. Even the coffee I bought from their convenient stores was still too sweet, which just couldn’t satisfy my intense American coffee craving!
Q6: SPEAKING OF , what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?
I find myself saying the word “yes” in several different languages instead of just in English. I also say, “Bulio” (I don’t know) and “Kamsahamnida” (thank you) in Korean quite often as well.
Q7: SHOCKING , you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?
The airport. It was shocking finally reaching my destination and it became that epic moment where I felt like I was really in a new land. I couldn’t wait to spend the following month in South Korea and meet so many new people.
Q8: WEEKENDS , full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?
I visited the city of Gangnam (yes, from the catchy song), and there I was able to see some nightclubs and roam the streets. A few of us from the program also traveled to Caribbean Bay, which is a well-known water park, and took about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach. Lastly, we went to Jeju Island for a school field trip and were able to explore the beaches and see the beautiful landscape.
Q9: TOUGHEST DAY , everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
My toughest day was actually the day I had to leave. The day was tear-filled and it was just heart wrenching knowing I had to leave all the people I became so close with. Many of us have kept in contact with each other, which I am grateful for, and some I will be seeing again soon if I get to return to South Korea in the spring for a job opportunity. However, I knew when leaving that it wouldn’t ever be the same situation and experience if I were to ever travel to South Korea again.
Q10: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of Asia?
Everyone is always a little nervous traveling to a new place, but if you are open and friendly to people, they will open up as well and that will help you make connections with people from all over the world. Also, don’t be afraid of not making friends because if you are open to meeting new people it will be very easy to make those types of relationships with others.
Thanks, Missy! We’re glad you enjoyed your study abroad experience in South Korea!