What My ISA Excursion to Busan Taught Me About My New Environment

Lauren Robinson is a student at the Colorado State University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.

I ask myself what I want to get out of my 4 months here in Seoul. Why did I come here, and what am I expecting to become by the end of it? I decided to take advantage of every excursion offered to me so that those hard questions I asked at the beginning will be answered. And Busan, was the first place I looked to in search of those answers.

My friends and I woke up to the early sun on Saturday to depart from Seoul to Busan. I looked outside the train window as buildings turned to ocean. Maybe, my answers are here.

We first went to Jagalchi Fish Market, Korea’s largest seafood market. There was no escape from the sharp smell of the ocean and her inhabitants as we walked along the narrow walkway. Stands of fish and ajummas (middle-aged women) speaking their unfamiliar language sandwiched us in tight, as the experienced customers weaved in and out of stands. If my answers are here, there was no way I would find it. We clumsily made our way out of the sea of people to catch our breaths. Jagalchi Market… Though overwhelming, gave me an insight on the way locals in Busan live: fast, productive, and passionately.

This is part of the fish market where people from all over Korea come to buy fresh seafood from ajummas!

The day flies by as we pull up to Oryukdo Skywalk, a glass bridge made to view the ocean. The more I stared, the more at peace I became. Okay, I thought, this is definitely where I’ll find my answers. My eyes bored into the limitless water, but nothing came to me. No answer, just silence. That really didn’t bother me all that much; it was the first time in years I stopped to look at the ocean. It was the first time I felt calmed by each wave that passed.

The beautiful skywalk gave people a vast view of the ocean.

As night crept in, we arrived at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, a temple along the ocean that has stood for over 600 years. The closer I got, the more my heart pounded. The sound of soft drumming on a wooden instrument brought me still. This was my answer. During my first month here, I lost my grandmother. My grandmother, loving and hardworking, grew up in Hong Kong and accepted the religion of Buddhism. The language barrier between her and I was hard enough, but her Alzheimer’s made her mind foggy, and I always felt as though I couldn’t reach her. Being at this temple felt like my grandmother wanted me here while she left this world. Like my grandmother was right beside me, watching me through the eyes of the deities.

The entrancing sound of the wooden drum played by the monk brought a calming mood all over the temple.

Busan gave me more answers about myself rather than what I thought I needed to find. Through these places, I am able to see part of my family’s past that I thought was buried away. This unknown environment feels more and more familiar, and the answers to why I’m here just keep coming and coming.

 

Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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