What are your favorite things at your host location so far?
My favorite activity is to roam the campus, learn in different cafés and just walk around the city, because no matter where I seem to go, I always stumble across something new. Whether sweet cafes, bakeries, great restaurants or fashion and makeup shops, there is always something to do. Even when I travel by bus, each route takes me through different parts of the city and I keep thinking about where to go next. The university is conveniently located near a beautiful hiking area and directly opposite an important shopping and gastronomy destination.
Tell us something about the university, the academic experience, the classroom, the student life and the clubs or activities in which you are involved? How are the locals, are there differences or similarities that have surprised you because of your expectations?
I'm absolutely in love with the campus. It's so nice to go from my dorm in the morning to the main part of the campus, and there are so many little paths that I can take amidst trees and small attractions. I enjoy the lessons very much and all my professors are very nice and very accommodating. I love teaching such unique courses to professors with such diverse backgrounds and perspectives on a variety of topics. The harder class I take is ICU, where I study two hours a day, five days a week, with two different professors and three different textbooks. I am looking forward to the class every day as I really want to improve my Korean and try to use every opportunity to learn so that I can speak more confidently. So far, I've joined two different campus clubs and another off-campus club. I am currently a member of the Yonsei Mentors Club, which brings together Korean students with a group of foreigners, and we have various activities and the Yonsei Global Language Exchange Program. I also participated in another language exchange program that brings together Korean students from all universities with foreign exchange students. At first I thought I was overwhelmed with being surrounded by a language I do not speak very well, but many people are very nice and accommodating to foreigners. There do not seem to be any noticeable differences between the locals, but everyone I met was very nice.
Did you experience a culture shock when you arrived in your host country? How did your expectations of your experiences compare to the reality of your daily life? Is there anything that you wish you had done more or researched to better prepare you for your experience?
After my arrival in Korea, I had really expected a culture shock, but honestly, I did not experience it at all. I think I have so much self-confidence in my skin that it does not really bother me when I stand out in the crowd. Surprisingly, it does not make me negative to be here. I tried to have no expectations before I came here, and I think that was a very good decision for me because I like to experience things without prejudice for myself. I wish I could do more research on how to maintain my finances while living abroad. I knew I needed to open a domestic bank account, but I wish I was better prepared to manage my finances, especially since I have to spend money every day.
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