As a Global Business major, studying abroad was a mandatory requirement that initially was a no-brainer for me. Seeing the world, meeting new people & getting out of Texas was something that I knew would be very enjoyable. It was even better that I was chosen to attend Korea University because my whole family except my dad, mom, and sister live in Korea. So, not only would I be traveling the world, but I would get to spend time with my family at the same time, which is something I cherish since I wasn’t able to spend much time with them in the past because of how far Korea is from the US. However, I will admit that as the departure date crept closer, the doubts began to hit me day by day.
I started to think about the fact that I would have to live life without my friends, Chipotle burritos, and most importantly my dogs. I REALLY did not want to live life without my dogs. The part that stressed me out the most during the study abroad application process was all the recommendation letters, mandatory meetings, and formal documents we needed to collect. It really made me second guess myself and wonder “Do I really want to do this?” I had some thoughts of just changing majors and not studying abroad because I was so busy with actual UTD courses and having to apply for study abroad applications was just extra stress. But, don’t worry, all of these requirements were more than worth it because studying abroad in Seoul was probably the best 6 months of my life.
Even as a 100% genetically Korean turned US citizen who has lived in Dallas for almost my whole life, I admit to being a bit nervous to leave Texas and live in Seoul for about 6 months by myself. I am Korean in my blood, but since I moved to the US when I was about 3 years old, regrettably my Korean language skills have severely deteriorated throughout my years in Dallas making the thought of attending school in a foreign country a bit overwhelming. The worry was not about being unable to speak the language fluently, because I understand that the English language is basically universal. However, the aspect that made me lose some sleep was the fact that the locals in Korea would probably speak to me in Korean expecting me to understand what they’re saying…because well, I am Korean. But, little did they know that I had been living in the US my whole conscious life, so when they heard me speak, I could see the surprise on their faces of how I was not a local. I eventually got a lot of the language back just by being exposed to it, but I still want to improve on the language because speaking multiple languages is valuable. Everybody on campus speaks English; some are ridiculously fluent, while some can put sentences together with lots of smiles & hand movements. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to have a conversation with someone as long as you are open-minded and patient, because you have to understand that YOU are the foreigner, not them!
Studying abroad was one of the best decisions of my life because I made relationships with life-long friends. Since I am Korean, it did help to go to Seoul because I know I will be able to see these people again in my lifetime. Seriously, I met some really genuine people that I plan on staying in touch with until I am in my grave. You’ll meet people from ALL around the world. I now have a place to stay when I go to Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia, California and even the Netherlands. I made some memories that I can look back on and just laugh about out of nowhere that will last forever.
I 3000% recommend anybody to study abroad. I had some doubts at the beginning, but I am glad I went through with it. You’re probably going to want to give up during the application process, but trust me, it will all be worth it. Well, to be fair, I can’t speak for any other location, so if you go to Korea University, then you will not regret it. You’ll get homesick, but it’ll be okay because remember the hardest choices require the strongest wills.
-Robin Kim, Exchange at Korea University Business School, Fall 2019