Before studying abroad, I thought that the transition out here would be the hardest part, but it turns out that getting ready to leave this place and transitioning back home is even harder” is probably the most remarkable part for me when I gave a speech during the Spring 2016 Farewell Ceremony. I really had so much fun during my study abroad period that I wanted to stay longer here in Korea and did not want to come back home for just a moment longer.

It’s been a great year at Chung-Ang University where I made lots of memories, experiences, and especially met some amazing and wonderful people around the globe. I stayed here for a year, 11 months to be exact, and to me it didn’t feel like a year at all. It went really fast, especially my second semester here at CAU. My study abroad experience is something that I would never trade for anything. To me, it is a golden treasure that I will surely be keeping with me for my whole life.

What made my study abroad experience more meaningful was when one of my professors offered me an internship to work in her laboratory. I was working with CAU graduate students, and it was a great month working with them all. I learned Molecular Bio techniques in the lab that will help me in the future especially.

Not to forget, GLAMs are amazing! I was really thankful to have them to help every exchange student! Despite their busy schedules, they were always there to make time for me and willing to help every time we needed help. GLAMs are one of the best Korean people I’ve met during my study abroad program.

Often, people asked what I will miss the most when I leave Korea. I usually take a few seconds or even a minute to think, but I couldn’t think of just one thing. I will miss everything in Korea of course. But there’s one thing I will never miss… the hill going back to the dorm! Incoming exchange students are lucky that the newly built building has escalators and will never have to experience climbing up the hill.

If I were to give advices to incoming students, I would say to always have fun and enjoy every moments of their study abroad program. Explore, go outside, and do as much as you can. Try as much Korean foods as you can, even the exotic ones! Probably once might be enough, at least you can say you’ve tried it. Try it for experience and always go for adventures! Never say “I still have time, I will do it later” because trust me, you don’t! But also, do not forget to spare some time for studying. Remember, you are also here to study and get some good grades!

This experience is not only to broaden our horizon but also to enrich our life experience. Interacting and socializing with different kinds of people make us learn different perspectives and teach us things about life. Just learning the Korean culture itself is already fascinating, what’s more when you interact with other exchange students around the globe.

It makes everyone of us an open-minded individual, that learning something from each other’s culture is not different or bad but a unique identity to be proud of.

Micheal Angelo Sagun, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Fall 2015-Spring 2016

When I first learned of my acceptance to Chung-Ang University as an exchange student for the 2016 spring semester, I was absolutely overjoyed. Now, looking back after completing the semester I cannot believe what an amazing experience I was able to partake in. Korea has been the number one country on my list to visit. Like many others, I was first introduced to Korea through Korean Dramas and K-pop. This interest led my family to watch Korean TV programs and learn about Korean culture and society. As a university student, I studied Korean language for 2 semesters before making my way to Korea. During the exchange, my language skills and confidence in speaking grew. My knowledge in Korean culture, history, and society increased as well. From lectures and discussions in my classes as well as through conversations with friends and observing the society, my knowledge of Korea has expanded.

CAU’s scholarship program, Global A, also granted me many encounters. Although I was there to help students practice their English skills, I believe that I received more than I expected. I made many friends, learned about Korea, became closer to the other exchange students I worked with, and practiced teaching and conversation skills needed as I work towards a degree in education. Working in E-lounge, was the best part of my week. It was fun to sit down and talk with students about their day and their interests.

Korea is an amazing country and I cannot wait to return. Highlights of 4 months in Korea include my first Korean snow, a weekend trip to Busan, eating tteokbokki in Dongdaemun, cheering for the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium, after e-lounge dinners with co-workers and Korean friends in Heukseok, attending a few Kpop concerts, hiking Hallasan in Jeju-do, CAU’s LUCAUS festival, late night norebang sessions at K2, and wearing hanbok around Gyeongbokgung palace. I was impressed with the amount of English in Korea and how easy it was to navigate through Seoul. Korean food was absolutely delicious (너무 맛있어) and very diverse. Korean people were very polite, helpful, and very encouraging when I explained my desire to speak Korean language.

My spring semester as an exchange student at Chung-Ang University was absolutely unforgettable. Not only did I have the chance to attend an amazing university but I was gifted with the opportunity to learn firsthand about Korean society, grow as an individual, and create friendships with Korean students as well as students from all over the world. I am excited to take the skills and experiences I received during my exchange and share them with others. I will miss everything from my time in Korea (except for the steep walk up to the dorm and the freezing winter weather).

Mahalo nui loa to Chung-Ang University for the opportunity of a lifetime.  많이 사랑해요!

Tips to incoming students:

  1. Don’t be afraid to learn a little Korean. A little can go a long way! If you show people you’re making an effort to understand part of their culture, they’ll first be impressed but also more up to help or show you something new. And don’t be shy if you can’t say things correctly, they’ll correct you, so just try.
  2. Korea is a great place to step out of your comfort zone. Go out and explore the city, try new foods, ask random students for help (they can speak English, they’re just shy so take the initiative), sing super off-key in norebang (karaoke).
  3. Walk up the hills at CAU. Don’t always take the elevator or escalators. You will be eating a lot of food when you get there so might else well use these hills as an opportunity to walk it off. You WILL gain weight.
  4. If you like shopping for clothes, Kpop merchandise, and skin care, bring two suitcases with you. One full of things you need and one empty. Things in Korea are pretty cheap and you don’t have to worry about taxes. Most international flights are two free check-ins so just do yourself a favor and bring an extra suitcase or duffle bag for all of the things you buy. Suitcases aren’t too expensive but I’ve only seen lots of small ones. Shipping however, is pretty expensive.
  5. Be prepared to fall in love. As in, be prepared to fall in love with Korea. Korea really is an amazing country. There may be times where things are a little rough and you miss things from home (food, pets, significant others, etc…) but Korea has so much to entertain! Go eat some fried chicken, watch performances in Hongdae or Yeouido Hangang park, shop in Myeongdong or Express Bus Terminal, hike some famous mountains, participate in temple stay, or ride bikes along the Hangang. And prepare yourself for new friendships. You’ll meet lots of people in the exchange program, in class, or just out in the city.
  6. The ATM and exchange rate charges are not a joke. *crying because they take my money* *crying because I be spending money* ㅠㅠ

Kuuleinani Lee, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Spring 2016