I am back in Singapore. Promised to blog more about Summer Exchange but obviously I did not do so. But perhaps this will summarise all the things that I have experienced during the 28 days I lived in South Korea as a haksaeng (student).
There were some things that I have addressed previously, and some still rang true till today. However, I grew more accepting of South Korea’s culture. Granted, it was very difficult since I hated my stay during my first week, with added homesickness, nothing ever went well.
Now, I am much more okay with South Korea’s culture and the country in general.
I took 2 modules whilst in Kyung Hee Dae: North Korea? The Hermit Kingdom and Taekwondo. For the former, I listed the module as my major’s Prescribed Elective and Taekwondo as an Unrestricted Elective. Most of the summer exchanges can clear a maximum of 8 AUs, which roughly means 2 modules worth 3/4 AUs each.
The module I took was very dry, with lots of readings, histories (bleargh) and essay writing (which I totally winged it). It was easy to score overall – I got a 97/100 for my final grade. Dry content aside, I really learned a lot of things from the module, and it was really interesting to learn from a political scientist’s view. As a sociology student, I felt a little restricted in the way I think. Somehow, when we are taught a certain way, other ways are harder to visualize until we are put in another train of thought… but that opportunity does not come by very often.
Overall, I learned a lot… from the professors. Though I wish my classmates could speak up more. Tbh, only a few students dared to speak up in class. I enjoy conversations and intellectual banter. Seems like I cannot find it in this module. I hope other students found it in other modules. That’s the best way to benefit out of a theoretical/historical laden module.
It took me a while to get used to Korean food. Prior to the trip, I was super accustomed to Singaporean-Korean food… so Korean-Korean food is a whole new world to me. Everything has spice in it, and it’s not the familiar Indian/Malay spice. Also, a lot of us exchange students fell sick during the first week of exchange, and finding food that was kind on the stomach… was pretty non-existent. Luckily I had a Singaporean roommate who can cook! It was hard to recover from the sickness I had, because I didn’t go to the Byeongwon/Hospital even though Kyung Hee had one.
Nonetheless, I grew accustomed to the spicy food and Kimchi, believe it or not, is now has a place in the refrigerator at home. I find that Kimchi really helps with digestion most of the time. Sadly, kimchi in Singapore is rather pricey. I only splurge when I have extra money, but it’s good to know that I am treasuring another superfood into my daily food intake. 😛
Seoul (or Korea in general) has beautiful Geography
Let’s be frank – I am not big on shopping. Sure, I’d buy this product-that product for the once-in-a-while pamper myself, but my luggage… was never filled with cosmetics. Rather, it was filled with my friends’ hahaha…
I find that South Korea’s geography is really beautiful and underrated. Save for those popular National Parks like Bukhansan and Seoraksan, the landscape for other parts of Korea is beautiful. However, just for this exchange trip, I did not go outside of Seoul because I was sick during the first week and the North Korea module had exams on Fridays (what a bummer). P.S. I went South Korea for a second time during fall break and it was majestic. I’ll save that for another post.
During my time in Seoul, I hiked (in no particular order):
Namsan, Bugaksan, Achasan, Bukhansan, Inwangsan.
So I guess that’s a little summary of what I experienced during my exchange there. I wished I did more stuff, but I’m glad for the things I experienced too. (win some lose some) Best of all, I gained lots of new friends~
If you have an opportunity to go for an exchange, just do it. It will be one of the best decisions that you would have probably made.