If there is just one piece of advice I can give you it’s this – be open to experience new things.
At times you will be shocked, disgusted, dumbfounded, or even lost but you will also be amazed, excited, emotional, charmed, and most definitely you will fall in love with Korea. Don’t worry, everything is part of the unforgettable experience that you will encounter once you set foot in this beautiful country that is South Korea.
Together, let’s take a look at my past semester.
Once I arrived at Incheon airport, I was greeted by the amazing GLAMS, our new Korean buddies from CAU, and fellow international students that will be spending the semester at CAU with me. Since everyone was eager to make friends, it was very easy to talk to people. To be honest, I met some of my closest friends during the exchange right there!
The first few days were the busiest, but also the most exciting. Seeing all these new faces, meeting my roommate, my first trip to Daiso, getting lost on campus and so much more. I made sure to take in all the information that I got from the GLAMS so that I will be ready for the semester ahead.
I remember my first trip outside of campus was to go to Hongdae with a group of friends and we had Korean fried chicken! So let’s talk about some important business: food. If you are someone that eats everything (like me) there will be no problem finding delicious food in Korea. However, if you are vegetarian or vegan, I recommend that you do some research before coming… bibimbap will become your best friend! It was important to me to try as much food as possible because when will I be back in Korea and get the chance to try live octopus for example?! Yes, you heard right and yes it was pretty good! My favorite Korean creations must be Galbi (갈비) and Bingsu (빙수)! Both are very unique for Korea and a must try!
Moreover, I enjoyed travelling while being abroad here. Some of the places I went to include: Jeju Island, Busan, Japan and Hong Kong. Being able to compare Korea with other Asian countries is especially insightful and I would very much recommend it.
Living in the dormitory has been a good choice. Not only do you live on campus and have easy access to convenience stores and the cafeteria, but you have your friends close to you and can easily make plans to go out and explore the city. The dormitory also made an effort to create events for international dormitory residents and Korean residents to become closer friends, which I believe is a great opportunity to interact with Koreans. I was lucky to have a few Korean friends that helped me whenever needed and brought me closer to Korean culture. My advice is to make friends with Koreans as well.
Also, I want to stress how the group of people you spend your semester with will immensely influence your time and will make even the small moments into memorable experiences. I was able to learn more about different cultures and my group of friends became my family away from home.
When thinking about what my favorite memory in Korea has been, I just could not decide. That is why I asked my friends to tell me what their favorite memory was, and I wanted to share their responses, because I could not agree more:
“One of the greatest moments that I had in South Korea was when we participated in the Suwon festival. It was an experience that I didn’t even had in my country, to be part of a festival with typical traditional clothing and instruments with all my precious friends. Even though it was tiring for us because it lasted all day, I think it was a unique experience, one that not anyone can have. That is why I value it the most.” – Paloma Yris
“Maybe this is not my favorite memory but is the one that will stick with me the most. I went to Bukhansan to hike with my friends. It was beautiful and a cool experience, but the thing is that I fell and I broke my ankle. One would say that how is it a good memory? But, that taught me that even if you came here alone, at the end you aren’t, because all my friends I made in Korea took care of me and support me in everything. And that’s what I gained from this experience, a great family. #rememberbukhansan “- Karen Jurado
“My favorite memory of Korea was in Busan where we went during Chuseok and we walked to a viewpoint near Haeundae Beach. There, me and my friends watched the sunset and all the colors in that beautiful sky, we recorded a time lapse that will always remind us of the time that we enjoyed great views.” – Sergio Gutierrez
“My best memory about Korea is the Suwon festival because it was my first-time being part of a festival. We were all dressed in traditional clothes and we played some instruments which was a lot of fun!” – Philippe Xu
“My best memory in Korea was riding all the way down from Incheon to Busan by bike. I had the opportunity of experiencing Korea from another point of view watching different kind of landscapes, going through overwhelming challenges, and getting the satisfaction of ending this cycling route of over 600 kilometers and even getting a recognition for achieving it.” – José Toral
“For me, my favorite experience in Korea is when I went to Namsan tower with my friends, because when we arrived, we got to see the best sunset in our life and I have to say that the view of the city from there is really good. Now that we are almost at the end of this adventure, I can say that this exact moment made me fall in love with the city and it’s beautiful landscapes.” – Paulina Fuentes
“My best memory in Korea is a trip to Busan with my new friends from Mexico and Germany. Traveling together made us get closer, from this trip I shared many good moments exploring with them thanks to CAU” – Yoann Wargnier