Home, sweet home! I’ve been back in the states for a few days now after 6 weeks of cultural exploration and I’ve returned with more knowledge and a different outlook on some things in life. I’ve always desired to travel the world and see the beauty that other countries have to offer and now I can say that I’ve begun that journey. Before leaving America and heading to Asia, I had a few pre-judgments about my experience. I thought that Korea and China would be alike, however they’re quite different. The people, the food, the language, the culture- they are all quite unique from one other.
One aspect that the two countries do share with each other and with parts of America was the traffic. In my first blog, I talked about how surprised I was to be in grid-lock traffic as soon as I was picked up from the airport in the afternoon- (something that certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to us Atlanta drivers.) Aside from traffic, I noticed how “reckless” the drivers were. Before arriving in Asia I had never heard the stigma of Asians being “bad” drivers, but for those who have, actually going to Asia would change your mind. The drivers are not bad, there are just so many people on the road at one time! The motorists literally make their own rules of the road—and it works for them.
My most memorable experience overall would have to be the times shared with my classmates in and around China. Prior to arriving in china, I spent 4 weeks in Korea, an unfamiliar country, with unfamiliar people. Although some friends were made along the way, to see familiar faces when I arrived in China was a huge relief! Together, we maneuvered around the cities, laughed, learned, and had a once in a lifetime experience together. From trying new foods, immersing ourselves in the cultures, “learning” the language, to watching a police raid—we will have memories to look back on for a lifetime.
The study abroad requirement of the MAIGC degree is actually one of the reasons that I was drawn to this program. When school started in August I was set on not attending the study tour to China. My desire was to tour Europe and all that it had to offer but I’m glad that tables were turned. Not only was I able to experience a study tour with my classmates but I was offered a great practicum opportunity as well, maximizing my cultural experience. Although participating in both programs proved to be long and a little difficult (I may have gotten a little homesick) I’m so glad that I took the plunge.
With that being said- here are a few tips I’d give to future adventurists who plan to visit Korea, China or any foreign country for an extended time:
- Try the food!!- It’s difficult to find authentic Korean and Chinese food in the States so take this time to indulge in the real deal. Some of the dishes may look a little strange but it (usually) doesn’t hurt to try!
- Learn the language- language barriers are real! It helps to know some basic phrases to help get you through your stay in a new country.
- Don’t judge all people the same- this goes for any continent, country, or state you may visit. Everyone is not the same! Don’t let one bad experience ruin your experience.
- Make friends- If you’re like me and staying in one place for an extended amount of time, it’s important to try and make friends with others. It’ll not only help give peace of mind but you may also learn more about their culture and share some of yours too!
- Take it all in stride- go on tours, explore the area on your own, take public transportation, follow the rules; but most of all have fun. It’s an awesome experience to be able to travel-enjoy yourself
All-in-all, I had a great experience abroad. Just like everything in life, there’s good and bad but I wouldn’t trade this for anything in this world. Now, time for my next adventure!