Taylor Coffman, a History major minoring in Asian Studies and Political Science, recently returned from studying abroad at Ajou University in South Korea. Below, Taylor tells us about her experience and why history majors should think about pursuing study abroad opportunities:
Being able to study abroad in South Korea was an experience of a lifetime. South Korea is so rich in culture, yet at the same time very modern. Studying at Ajou University in Suwon, South Korea, with approximately 100 other students from all around the world, was probably the best part of my trip. Upon returning to the United States, I have a plethora of knowledge that I gained from learning about not only Korean culture, but the culture of the other students that were a part of the program. There were students from China, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Canada, Australia, France, England, Spain, and Germany. Uzbekistan, the United States, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and Thailand! There were also nine Korean students who helped us with transportation, showing us around their country, and being open to share their culture with us, as well as wanting to learn about ours. I especially learned a lot from my three roommates, who were from Uzbekistan, China, and Malaysia.
Some of my favorite places that we visited during our six week stay include Jeju Island – where we visited a Trick Art and Ice Museum, as well as a volcano and an underground cave that are both part of the “UNESCO Triple Crown New 7 Wonders of Nature,” Seoul Grand Park – which includes a zoo and an amusement park, among other neat things, the Boryeong Mud Festival – the biggest annual festival in South Korea where festival-goers play in mud all day and can relax by the Yellow Sea, and lastly a professional Korean baseball game!
However, the number one place that I just had to visit during my trip to South Korea was the Demilitarized Zone, or, simply, the border between North and South Korea. One cannot visit South Korea without taking a tour to the most heavily guarded border in the world. I was even able to step over the border and into North Korea!
Looking back on my trip, I am so beyond thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in this exchange program. I would recommend this program to anyone, especially if you are interested in Asian culture, but also want to have the creature comforts of modern life. South Korea is the best of both worlds. I learned so much more about Korean culture, and even the cultures of my peers in the International Summer School program, than I could have ever learned from any educational program in the United States. If you have the opportunity and are interested in learning about other parts of the world, I definitely recommend this trip!