Stories that Shaped Us: A Summer of Growth in Seoul
Kelsey Eihausen is an ISA* Seoul alumna and a senior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln whose experience abroad during the Summer of 2021 helped her to grow and see our rapidly-changing world from a whole new lens.
We reached out to learn more about why she chose to go abroad with ISA* South Korea and how her experience abroad last summer has impacted her since. Check out her unique story below and hear her advice for others wanting to follow a similar path!
*: ISA’s Asia and Pacific programs are operated by our partner division within WorldStrides, TEAN, who has over 25 years of experience in the region.
What inspired you to study abroad last summer, and why did you choose Seoul, South Korea?
I really wanted to study abroad last summer because my original plan to study abroad in Australia during the summer of 2020 got canceled due to COVID. Especially after experiencing the emotional, mentally hard year that we all had in 2020, I was very ready to experience something positive and formative. I chose South Korea because I had an interest in many aspects of its pop culture, and I wanted to learn more about the culture of the country beyond just through the lens of the pop culture. I wanted to be on the ground, learning/practicing language, and learning about the history and traditions of the country. I can certainly say that it was scary for me pre-departure (as a first time international traveler) to travel to a country that does not have the same primary language as mine, but I think it was an excellent learning opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I had gone where I planned in 2020.
What did you learn about yourself through these experiences and how did your time abroad impact your understanding of the world?
Through this experience, I learned a lot of things, some expected, and some not. I learned that despite being an avid planner, that I can’t account for everything that goes wrong, and that’s totally okay. It really taught me the importance of being flexible and rolling with the punches when things change. I also learned the importance of independence during this experience. My time abroad contributed to my understanding of the world by showing me that adaptability is incredibly important in our world, since we are growing more interconnected with every year that passes. I learned how to adapt how I live to fit into a different society that is halfway across the world (even though it was only for a few weeks) and learned how to respect the social customs that I was initially not used to.
What is one of your favorite memories or stories from your time abroad?
I think one of my favorite memories from my time in Korea was taking a weekend trip to Busan with my roommate from the program. It was sort of an impulsive decision, since we booked it during our quarantine before meeting each other in person, but it was such a fun experience. We got to fly down to Busan and got to visit the Gamcheon Culture Village, a local café, Songdo Beach, and got to experience the Busan Air Cruise, which was so incredibly fun. Though we were only there for one full day, it was fun to plan some stuff for ourselves, but also to give ourselves the opportunity to wander around and stumble across some great local places. I think in general, most of my favorite memories from my time abroad were things that just happened in the moment, and weren’t things I even planned to do.
What are you up to now? How did studying abroad influence this?
I am finishing my last semester at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and will be graduating with a Bachelor of Journalism this May. I am currently in the process of applying for and interviewing for jobs in the field of international education, in order to help other students have the same life-changing experience that I was able to have. This was absolutely directly influenced by my study abroad experience! I had been thinking about it prior to going, since I already had a job working with UNL’s Education Abroad Office, but going abroad and having that excellent experience really sealed the deal for me.
Any advice for students interested in going abroad to South Korea?
I think my biggest pieces of advice would be as follows:
- Teach yourself language basics (and better yet, how to read Hangul) before you arrive in South Korea. You will have a much easier time getting around and building on those language skills when you are living there and getting practice every day.
- Life outside the US may not be something that you are used to, but you need to remember, you are not in the US when you’re abroad. Learn to respect the local culture before even stepping foot into the country. Being abroad is an incredible opportunity for you to learn so much about a different culture and society first-hand, so definitely don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in that and learn everything that you can.
- Have fun and take it all in! It is very cliché for me to say, but it goes so fast, and you will miss it. Journal and write down your experiences if you can, you’ll appreciate having those words to bring you back to those exact experiences and memories.
Inspired by Kelsey’s journey and want to discover your own while immersing yourself in a study abroad program? Fill out your details below to let our team know and we’ll help you find your adventure today!