Embarking on My Study Abroad Journey

Hello, everybody! Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while or know me personally may know that I will soon be leaving home to begin my life abroad. If you are new here, I will be attending Yonsei University in South Korea for a year starting this fall semester. As a student currently enrolled in San Jose State University, I applied for Yonsei’s student exchange program through the California State University International Programs organization. I guess you could say I embarked on this journey seven months ago with applications and research, along with other aspects of the study abroad process, but I can’t believe that in a few weeks, I will be leaving my home in America and returning to South Korea – the country of my birth and heritage.

A lot of people ask me why I chose to go to school in South Korea if I am of Korean heritage myself. In fact, a lot of people laugh when I say I’m going to Korea to study there when lots of people in South Korea dream about receiving an education in the United States. Well, to put it short, it just felt right. Although I was born in the beautiful city of Seosan in the southwestern part of South Korea, I grew up in the United States ever since the age of one. Sure, I had visited South Korea several times during summer vacations, but I never really immersed myself in Korean society. I have always wanted to experience the education system of South Korea ever since I was a young child; I wondered what wearing uniforms and having structured class groups would be like. Of course, I won’t be experiencing that at Yonsei but there were other reasons as well.

As some of you may know, I am a business administration major with a concentration in marketing. Yonsei University is globally recognized for its business program and strong international network. South Korea is one of the world’s largest importing and exporting countries, especially with the rise of its electronics empire. As I would like to possibly be involved in international marketing as a future career, there is much for me to learn at Yonsei.

I also considered countries such as Italy and Japan among others for possible study abroad locations. The main reason why I was hesitant on choosing South Korea as my study abroad country is because I wanted to take full advantage of being in an environment that facilitated learning a new language. I am a native speaker of the Korean language, so South Korea seemed to defeat that purpose. I also desired – and still do – to study in the city of London. I backpacked solo through Europe last year (pictures here) and one of the stops I made was London. I completely fell in love with the city. The London vibe, weather, and aesthetics just seemed like everything I wanted. I still plan on living in London one of these days and am considering attending graduate school there even though the primary language is English (which I obviously speak).

However, the reason why I chose Korea is basically this: as I mentioned before, it just felt right. As I kept researching schools and going back and forth with my options, I just could not get the list of Korean universities out of my head. With Yonsei’s and Korea University’s prestige as SKY universities and my long-held desire to experience school life in Korea, in the end, studying abroad in Korea just felt right. I applied to several universities in Seoul as a safety net in case I did not get into my top choice, which was Yonsei. To be completely honest, I did not have hope for Yonsei University since my study abroad coordinators told me that the acceptance rate is extremely low every year. I had some hope for Korea University even though it is a SKY university but expected to get into either Hanyang University or Ewha Women’s University. I waited anxiously for the acceptance announcement date hoping I would at least get into Korea University but was shocked with the news that I had made it into Yonsei University. I had to quintuple-check the email because I could not believe what I was seeing. If my acceptance into Yonsei University is not a sign that I made the right choice, I’m not sure what is.

I’ll be leaving my home in the States in a few weeks and will be soon entering the land of my ancestors. I can’t even begin to describe the thrill I am feeling, yet I am also beginning to feel a sense of wistfulness as I realize the limited number of days I have left with my family before I leave. Sure, we can still video chat and I have been living away from home for college for two years now, but things are different now that we will be separated by the Pacific Ocean and home isn’t a two-hour drive away. I won’t be able to feel the comfort of just being home surrounded by loved ones. I look back to the time when I first left home for college: homesickness hit strong back then, and I was only a few hours away from home. I wonder what will happen this time around: will I be able to handle it better or will I begin to sink under the weight of realizing I don’t have the same freedom of going home on the weekends as before once the excitement of living in the city that never sleeps ends?

Who knows what this journey holds for me? Underneath all the layers of fun and elation, studying abroad is a serious decision. Even a wanderlust traveler like me can’t help but think about how this experience will affect me, whether positively or negatively. Instead of leaving behind my old life and starting anew, I truly wish for this experience to enlighten and mature me in a way that interlocks my past, present, and future to mold me into a stronger woman and further develop my perspective of the world around me.

As always, thank you so much for reading. I wish for all of my readers to have a blessed week. Until next time,

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