4 Surprises from My First 3 Weeks in Seoul

Camille Gauthier is a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and an ISA Featured Blogger. Camille is studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.

King Sejong and the mountains

I can’t believe I’ve already been in Seoul for three weeks!  I have dreamed of coming to South Korea since I was in the 10th grade.  To finally be here as a student in the heart of Seoul is a dream come true.

My time here so far has been quite a whirlwind of getting settled into the dorm, meeting new friends, seeing the sights of the city, learning my way around on the subway, discovering nearby places to shop and eat, and just plain pinching myself to figure if I’m really here.

Even though I’ve researched and read about Seoul for years, being here for just a few weeks has already taught me so much.  Here are 4 surprising discoveries I’ve learned about Seoul and myself since I’ve been here.

1.     Seoul is absolutely beautiful

Okay, maybe this wasn’t a total surprise.  I mean, I had seen countless pictures of Seoul on my computer and in books and magazines.  But nothing prepared me for the beauty of actually seeing this city. One thing I didn’t expect to see so much of is: MOUNTAINS! The city is right in the mountains.  The image of the skyscrapers of central Seoul against the backdrop of amazing mountains makes for a postcard-worthy picture!

Namsan view
A view of the city from the top of Seoul Tower (which also happens to be on top of a mountain!)

2.     I’m pretty good at directions

I’ve always been considered directionally challenged. In fact, I’ve been known to get lost finding my way back home from somewhere I’ve driven myself.  But a few days ago, our ISA resident director gave us a “subway challenge.”  The first 3 people to find their way to a place on the subway would win a prize. And unbelievably I was one of the winners!  It’s odd that I feel more comfortable finding my way around the middle of Seoul than driving 5 minutes away from my house.

I’m this far away from home!

3.     Dorm cafeteria food is bad no matter where you are

I love Korean food.  So when I saw pictures of the dorm cafeteria and their food offerings, I just figured that the food must be delicious.  After all, I love Korean food and had never had anything I didn’t like.  Well, what I learned is that even though the cafeteria serves all my Korean favorites, the food definitely doesn’t taste like the food I’ve had at other places here in Seoul.  So the fact is, dorm food is dorm food.  Just like back home, you just learn what things you like and what things you don’t like.  And then, when you finally get to have the good stuff at a restaurant, it’s that much more of a treat!

Kimbap, Now THIS is the good stuff!

4.     Night-time is High-Traffic time

At home, I’m used to the streets beginning to empty out during the evening, around 7 or so.  But here in Seoul, 7 p.m. is when the city comes to life!  Street vendors start setting up their stalls, lights come on, and suddenly everything seems exciting and new and fun.  You can even find many families with younger children wandering throughout the mall at 9 p.m.!  On a nice night, I like to walk around the area right off of campus to enjoy the lively atmosphere that is Seoul after dark.

I’ve been enjoying myself immensely since I’ve been here, and I can’t wait to see and experience what other amazing things this huge city has to offer!

6 thoughts

  1. Awesome blog Ms. Gauthier. Seoul sounds like a wonderful place. But, is your name Camille or Brittney?

  2. Don’t you just love the Seoul public transportation. You can go practically anywhere in seoul with a t-money card and a few good hours.

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