ngarza, June 29th, 2016
June 19th, 2016
Well, my semester abroad officially ended this past Friday. Thoughts? Reflections? Emotions and the like? Although the semester’s end means it’s time to go home and say goodbye, I can’t help but feel happy and excited to return to Texas. I love Korea and I will definitely miss everything that is Korea, but I can’t wait to be in a place where I don’t struggle to communicate and where I can buy Mexican food easily and for a reasonable price. Did I ever tell y’all that a month and a half into my study abroad I had sudden Mexican food withdrawals to the point in which my friends and I traveled for an hour and a half to eat at the nearest Mexican restaurant? Well, we did and it was worth it. But back to the point, I’m ready to go home. This past week has been hard because all I wanted was to go home sooner and eat things that aren’t Korean. One of my professors told me that the closer my return home comes the harder it would be to live abroad, but I didn’t really think it was true. I thought all I would feel would be sadness. In actuality, all I feel is excitement and sometimes a little frustration that I am still here in Korea while others have already returned home. Perhaps I only feel this way because I will be returning to Korea for the fall semester, so I don’t feel the need to feel sad yet.
June 29th, 2016
Well, I’ve been home for almost a little over a week now. It feels weird that it feels as if I never left! Everything seems just as I’ve left it. My friends that have studied abroad told me that when they came back they saw the “ugly parts” of our culture, but I am not seeing what they talked about. I mean, I am looking at things and saying, “This would be more efficient if we adapted Korea’s system.” But, I haven’t seen any part of our culture that seems backward when compared to that of Korea’s. In fact, now that I have lived in and studied about Korea, I feel that my whole perception of Korea has changed. Before, when I thought of Korea, I mainly thought of all the good things Korea has to offer: a growing economy; a leader in the technology industry; the Hallyu Wave. Now, I mainly think about the aging population, the high rates of poverty that exist among Korea’s disabled and elderly, the world leading suicide rates among every age group in Korea, the extremely high academic expectations placed on students, and the poor work environments due to long hours and a hierarchical culture, and much more. Having experienced Korea by living in the countryside, I feel that I saw all the things Korea is still trying to develop and may have even forgotten about while trying to catch up to the world’s leading countries. For example, one thing I found very confusing about Korea is that although it is required by law for trash to be sorted into things that can be recycled and those that cannot (paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, and food waste), it is completely legal to litter and simply leave trash everywhere. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but this seems so backward to me.
Anyway, I’m happy to be home and I’m excited to return to Korea at the end of August for my second semester abroad.