Living as a Seoulite – My Exchange Experience

By Sophia Chea, Student in Business Management, TRSM

Like many people, studying abroad was always something I’ve dreamed of. After applying, I hesitated many times while contemplating whether studying abroad was right for me. Although there were moments when I didn’t think I was making the right choice, I still stuck with it. Honestly, it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I chose to study in Seoul, South Korea at Chung-Ang University for a semester. Although this destination isn’t a popular exchange location, I choose South Korea because it was different. South Korea is a technologically advanced country filled with both traditional and modernized lifestyles. It was definitely a lifestyle change for me. I was utterly impressed by how great their transportation system was combined with access to WIFI almost everywhere. Believe it or not, I lasted my entire exchange without a SIM card!

When I first arrived to Korea, I remember wanting to go back home immediately. I was convinced that being in Korea wasn’t right for me, but after a few weeks, things got easier. I made new friends, adapted to their lifestyle and made South Korea my home. I made so many great memories here from  hanging out during with friends during the night to travelling to around Asia.

Namdaemun Gate – Seoul, South Korea

There is a strict attendance policy that was imposed by my school limiting my chances to travel to different countries. Nonetheless, I had a great time in my host country. There was never a dull moment in Seoul because of the tremendous amount of things to do! After classes, I would spend most nights near the river with my friends or at my host university’s famous stairwell. Those two places were go-to hangout spots because of the atmosphere and views. I also picked up some Korean which was an asset when ordering food or exploring in non-tourist areas.

When I did have time to travel, I spontaneously bought tickets to different countries, cities and islands to explore. Being a huge foodie, Taiwan seemed like heaven with the insanely cheap and delicious food. I also really enjoyed Japan with their amazing hospitality and RAMEN!

Daegu, South Korea: Apsan Park (앞산공원)

Each city I’ve visited had a different energy. Daegu, one of my favorite South Korean cities was the friendliest city I’ve ever visited with incredibly nice locals. From giving us clementine’s during our hike to offering to open their restaurant for us when it was originally closed (we didn’t take up their offer), I have never met such kind people.

Although I hesitated and contemplated being on exchange many times, I am glad I went through with it. It was a life-changing experience. I learned so much about myself and travelling while making great memories. I still have flashbacks to my experiences, although now it feels like I woke up from a long dream.

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