Life of a Study Abroad Student in Seoul

Bao Yang is a student at Mount Mary College and a Classmates Connecting Cultures Blogger corresponding with the Social Work Club at Mount Mary. Bao is currently studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, Korea.

Two meal choices at the Konkuk cafeteria.
Two meal choices at the Konkuk cafeteria.

Through the uproar of the media regarding North Korea it can be difficult for those in the U.S. to understand the exaggerations in the media about North Korea. Here, South Koreans go through their daily lives paying very little attention to the threat of the North because they know that North Korea will not take any actions that will further isolate it’s nation into oblivion.

My daily life as a American student in Seoul has not been effected at all in the mist of this tension.

On a Sunday morning:

First, I wake up to the weather. Mother nature is rather conflicted; it rains one day and the next it’s a beautiful day, then it goes back to being rainy and windy.

My final destination for the morning was the laundry room. Where did you think I was going on a Sunday morning?

My more religious friends attend church. They seem to like it very much, which is a good thing for those who wants to attend church while abroad.

After doing laundry, me and my friends take a nice walk around campus to one of the local restaurants. Most of my meals are around 5000 won (about $4.50USD). If you paying more than that, you aren’t looking hard enough for good affordable meals.

Sunday is the hardest days for us here. There is really nothing to do. It’s a lazy day good only for doing homework and taking naps.

Psy TV commercial for noodles. He's everywhere!
Psy TV commercial for noodles. He’s everywhere!

Monday Mornings:

Students rush to get to class on Monday. Monday always comes too soon.

Cafeteria food is not bad, but please do keep expectations low and have a strong stomach for mystery meat.
Although there are numerous signs everywhere many of the students neglect to close the cafeteria door when exiting. This makes for a very cold breakfast for those still eating. Me and my friends are hoping that if enough foreign students close the door, then maybe the Korean students might notice and follow suit.

The big sign on the wall says, “Take as much as you can handle yourself, but don’t leave the food”. Basically don’t waste food or don’t take the food if you’re not going to eat it.

After breakfast, most of us have class. The hallways in the classroom buildings are always freezing!

Yes we have a lake, island, and bridge at our school! It's pretty cool!
Yes we have a lake, island, and bridge at our school! It’s pretty cool!

After Monday class I have Korean language tutoring at the International House. Jaehoon and Jeehye are awesome Korean language tutors!

After a long day, we always find ourselves at the Glocal cafe. Usually we don’t like studying in our rooms because we get distracted too easily. We usually go to a cafe around campus or the Glocal Cafe to study. The Glocal Cafe is the better alternative since it offers free coffee and tea for it’s visitors. Also it’s a great way to meet Koreans and foreign students.

I hope that by documenting my day here students who are interested in studying abroad in South Korea will have a better grasp of a student’s life here and others will understand the extent of the North Korean tension in South Korea.

As a social work major, I realize that social workers have to be the logical thinker in the fray of confusion, anger, fear, tension, etc. when we try to help people. We need to be the one to take action by taking ourselves out of the equation for a second to see the big picture that these problems are forming. But it can be difficult. When I first came to South Korea, I too feared the mysterious North. After a while and by watching the news and seeing how South Korea reacts to it. I realize that the North Korea issue is under control.

The backgate of Konkuk. As you can see it's deserted because it's a Sunday and no one's here except for the dormers.
The backgate of Konkuk. As you can see it’s deserted because it’s a Sunday and no one’s here except for the dormers.

One thought

  1. Your analysis of the North Korea potential threat is very interesting. It provides a perspective that we in the United States don’t perceive. I am relieved to know that you, personally, have thought about the political situation and have concluded that you are not in danger and that the political situation will not interfere with your study abroad experience. Thank you for sharing your daily experiences and for the accompanying photos. They are lovely!

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