This post was contributed by Kevin Lee, a Global Ambassador for fall 2020. Kevin is a Government, International Relations and Global Studies, and Asian Studies major studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea. Read his first blog post. Stay tuned throughout the semester as Kevin shares his experiences abroad!
I am writing to you all from Jeju Island. Jeju is described as the Hawaii of Korea, and it is only about a fifty-minute flight from Seoul. Over the next couple of days, I will be touring, hiking, and going out to sea.
Reflecting on my study abroad experience so far, I think that although the global pandemic has been extremely unfortunate, it has been a blessing in disguise for students studying in South Korea. The country is entirely open, and because classes are online, we have the opportunity to freely explore all that this wonderful country has to offer without worrying about time constraints. Going out during the day, stopping by a café for class time, and doing some studying at night.
I would imagine that this convenience will not be available for future students. Still, I advise them to spend the time between classes exploring rather than just staying in their rooms. They are studying abroad, after all. Anyway, that piece of advice has been in my head because I see the same guy studying in the lounge every day.
Since I’ve last written, I have explored more of Seoul: I checked out Daegu, Gyeongju, and Busan—and I ate plenty along the way. I’m going to make a bit of a controversial statement, but I think that Busan is better than Seoul. Perhaps it’s my affinity for the ocean, the fantastic seafood, or the friendlier people. Some places just click with you more, you know? Busan is home to the world’s largest department store, Korea’s largest fish market, and one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples. One thing Seoul definitely has over Busan is the public transportation system. Busan’s is good, but I’ve been spoiled by Seoul’s.
In Korea, the temperatures have dropped significantly. During the day, it’s in the forties and fifties while the nights hover around freezing. The fall foliage has been absolutely gorgeous, but the trees have begun to become barren, so I am trying to feast my eyes while I can. Coming from South Texas, where the seasons change straight from summer to winter, I have really been enjoying this beautiful season.
The last thing I’ll touch on is the U.S. election. Yes, I voted. It was a great experience. My county sent absentee ballots through email. I printed it out, filled it in, and dropped it off at the U.S. Embassy. One of Texas Global’s application essay questions was how I would react to discussions about American politics. To be honest, I thought the question was a bit strange, but it pays off to be prepared. Everybody I talked with had some opinion about the election and asked who I was voting for. Korean foreign relations are deeply intertwined with the U.S., so the Korean news provided nonstop coverage.
So, I hope everyone is staying positive and testing negative. Enjoy life while staying safe!