It has already been over a month since I got to Seoul and I really feel as if I’ve been here for much longer. It is funny how you can feel well-connected with a place and yet discover new things and faces of that place every single day. Seoul is definitely one of those places: being a huge city, you can always discover new corners, little shops, and amazing restaurants where you least expect to find them.
Past week was a little preview of how the next weeks are going to get: not enough time for all the exploring, traveling, and schoolwork I want/need to do. Last week I had my first assignments to hand in and I was pretty busy with school. It is now that I feel the big change from the system in Sweden – instead of focusing on one class at a time, I am all over the place, balancing 4 courses. This is actually good, as it will me help me get on track by the time I am back in Richmond. Speaking of Richmond, the fact that I will be returning to Richmond for my senior year is starting to hit me. The housing selection and coming course registration definitely make me feel nervous. On the one hand, I am excited to go back to Richmond and see all the people I haven’t seen in almost a year, but I also don’t want this year abroad to end, and most of all – the thought of me being a senior in August is rather scary.
Being abroad is one of the best things an undergraduate student can do and I would recommend it to everyone. It is unbelievable how much you learn about yourself and the world. The most amazing thing is the first-hand experience: sightseeing, learning the language, understanding the culture, meeting the people. I also love how all of my courses foster the first-hand experience. Even though I take a wide range of courses we always focus on Korea as our main example thereby gaining in-class knowledge, but as soon as you walk out of the lecture halls you can easily realize you are in the world you just read or heard about and you can go and explore it all. For my US-Korea relations class, for instance, the professors gave us 2 hours of lectures off so we could go the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History located near the City Hall. A few of my classmates and I went to the museum and actually had so much fun exploring the contemporary history of our temporary home. One of the most fascinating things in the museum was the 38th parallel that divides US and USSR zone. There were also a lot of other things to see and learn about Korea and how it has changed and progressed. There was even a huge section devoted to the technology development (including a super big screen where you could watch K-Pop videos, including “Gangnam Style”).
I also really liked the part of the museum that represented the President’s office. We spent quite some time there taking pictures and looking around.
And last week I went to the karaoke room with a group of my friends. Basically you rent a room for as much time as you want (usually 1 or 2 hours gives you enough times you sing your heart out), pick your song(s) and sing no matter how good or horrible you sound. It is actually quite entertaining and a great way to meet new people and bond with them!
It is great when you find little things like karaoke rooms and a trip to museum to make your day. Seoul definitely is soulful, all you have to do is keep your eyes open! 🙂