As I go through my checklist of things to do before I travel to South Korea, I realize that I still have so much to do. From deciding what to pack and what not to pack, to finding novel ways to fit everything into my suitcase, I am slowly but surely getting ready for the long journey ahead of me.
I am a mixture of both nervousness and excitement. This will be the first time I will be travelling abroad without my parents. We will be more than 7,000 miles apart, separated by a 13 hour time difference. It makes me a little anxious when I think about having to be independent and self-sufficient in a foreign country where I do not yet know the language; however, I am not completely alone. I will be going to the same study abroad program as two of my friends who I have known since middle school. Small worries that fly through my mind are appeased when I remember that I will have a support system both in Seoul and back home.
As much as I am nervous, I am just as eager for this new chapter of my life to begin. I’ve been doing as much research as possible about Seoul: the best places to visit, the must-eats, the rarest attractions. I am keen on visiting the modern areas, such as the bustling shopping district of Myeong-dong, but I am also looking forward to seeing the traditional aspects of Seoul, like the historic Bukchon Hanok village and the old Korean palaces. Even though I will be taking Korean as a class, I have already begun learning some basic Korean phrases to make the transition into South Korea a bit easier. My mom has been showing me different recipes of Korean dishes while I make a mental note to try the most appetizing ones. I have been watching videos of other students’ experiences studying abroad in South Korea, and cannot wait to see what my own adventure will entail.
I have only ever been to South Korea in passing, waiting in the Incheon airport in the summer of 2008 as a layover for my flight to the Philippines, where my family lives. I remember the airport as being grand: pristine with all the best stores and the latest technology. Now, I will finally get the chance to explore South Korea beyond its airport.