There and back, and there again—a student's tale

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by LEAH WANKUM, for The Muleskinner— 
2043Four months flew by, and, as I write this, I’m back in South Korea for what I’d like to call “Round 2.”
Every study abroad experience is different; my expectations and how they were fulfilled (or, rather, how they weren’t) differ from any other student going abroad.
In the next few issues of The Muleskinner, I will lay bare to my classmates my personal expectations and their corresponding realities.
I won’t leave out anything. This is not to deter anyone from studying abroad; rather, these are points of interest that one going abroad, especially to Korea, might like to know.
South Korea is tiny, roughly the size of Indiana. Traveling within the country is fairly cheap. In less than two months of total travel time, I managed to visit the more popular cities and sights.
In August, I arrived in Seoul and stayed with my old roommate Hyunjung.
After about a week in the city, we commuted five hours by train to visit her parents in her hometown Miryang, located about half an hour northeast of Busan.
There, we visited a traditional ballroom and a Buddhist temple up in the mountains. A couple days later, I went to Busan to participate in GlobaLinks’s Bridging Cultures Program.
In Busan, I saw the ocean for the second time in my life (the first being a trip to Florida with my family when I was eight years old), visited another Buddhist temple, saw a traditional performance in a theatre, played with local children in an orphanage, and learned how to cook spring onion pancakes and bibimbap, which is rice topped with cooked vegetables and egg.
After Busan, I returned to Seoul to start school at Korea University.
One weekend in September, my friends and I flew down to Jeju Island south of the peninsula and hiked up Mount Hallasan and swam in the ocean.
During Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving holidays at the end of the month, some friends and I took a five-hour bus ride to Sokcho and hiked at Sorak Mountain, by far the most beautiful I’d seen yet.
There, we also swam in the ocean, and the waves were huge.
Next week, I will share more of the expectations I had for life in Korea.