What do you hope to gain and how much research have you done on your host country and culture that will better prepare you for this experience?
I’ve been wanting to travel to South Korea most of my life as it encompasses my Korean culture and heritage that I have been longing to learn more about. In addition to an extensive amount of research on the country, I found the most help I received came from my friends who have traveled there often with family during school breaks. In regards to culture and societal norms, I feel very aware and familiar with traveling to Korea on my own as I have such an amazing friends and family who are continuously supporting me throughout my journey.
What are you most excited about? What are you most scared or nervous about?
There are many things about moving to a new country that are seriously nerve-wracking and I probably experienced them all in the following months up until my trip. My biggest fears had to do with standing out as a foreigner because even though I am half-Korean, I am still very much American when it comes to my appearance. I never like to stand out in any situation I am in let alone one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. In addition, learning Korean has been a life-long goal of mine, but I have never been really given the chance to study it fully given the lack of demand in most schools I attended. Although I can read, write, and converse minimally, the idea of traveling to another country not fully understanding the language is terrifying to me; however, I find that this is one of my key motivators in studying hard and putting myself in situations meant to challenge myself. In contrast, I am actually most excited about traveling all around the country and experiencing everything I can within the next ten months of my stay here as there is just so much to see and do in such a big city. Once I get a better grasp of the language, I fully anticipate being able to travel more and more as my comfort level with day-to-day interactions and conversations gets better.
What strategies have you implemented that will allow you to overcome these challenges and take full advantage of your opportunities?
Strategies I have implemented to help me overcome these challenges include immersing myself as much as possible and challenging myself to learn more from the people around me to better aid in my transition into Korean culture. I hope to really get the most out of living in another country and find the most value in language acquisition in order to transition from being just a foreigner to being able to live on my own.