When I first came to South Korea, I felt a little awkward because I am obviously a foreigner here. When I studied abroad in England, no one knew I was from another country until I spoke, but in Korea, people can tell I am a foreigner just by looking at me, and because I look so different from most of the people living in Korea, people (especially older people) sometimes look/stare at me which made me feel even more awkward.
Now that I have been in Korea for over a week, I am more used to it, and I don’t feel as awkward anymore. For one thing, around the university I go to, there are a lot more foreigners than there were in the area of the Airbnb I stayed at before the summer semester started. Also, once you get to know people around here, you realize how nice and welcoming everyone is!
For example, my Airbnb host took me on a trip to see Namsan Tower, treated me out to eat, and helped me practice my Korean. She was surprised when she found out I knew Korean and was happy to teach me more phrases!
I was nervous to speak Korean to Korean people because I know my speaking isn’t the best, but everyone is so encouraging and happy to help! There are so many opportunities to practice and learn more Korean like in class, around town, in shops, at restaurants, etc! Now that I am less nervous about being here, I am super excited to meet new people and improve my Korean skills.
My favorite thing so far has been meeting my Korean friends who studied abroad at Ole Miss. While taking Korean and being a part of the conversation partner program in International and American Student Alliance at Ole Miss, I have had the opportunity to make friends with exchange students from Korea, but after they returned home from their time abroad, we have not been able to see each other (some people that I met recently I haven’t seen in over two years!). It has been so great to see these friends again in their country!
There are also many opportunities to make new friends during the summer program in Korea! There is a language helper program that partners you up with a Korean person to help you practice your Korean. Also, I am taking Korean class with people who also have an interest in Korean, so we are all becoming fast friends and making plans to travel together when we have time!
So far, South Korea has been great, and I am excited to see how the rest of the summer goes! Thanks for reading!