Hi, I’m Andrew and I’m from Northern Virginia near D.C. I will be sharing my 3 one-word takeaways from Ewha. I hope these takeaways help you reflect on your time at Ewha too.
First, culture is really important. To answer why I came to Ewha, it mostly has to do with family. My mom graduated from Ewha and I have a lot of family in Seoul, so I thought it would be cool to study and live in Korea for a bit. One main part of culture is language; but I’m sure a lot of us had trouble these last few weeks trying to buy something at a store or order an extra bowl of rice, sometimes we can just feel dumb right?
I also came to Ewha expecting an international study abroad experience, that feeling of being a little out of place, the feeling of being a wehgoogin, but it was interesting that often I felt like a host when ordering food for my friends or navigating across Seoul. In this way, I felt like I was closer to the culture simply by being a heritage speaker. This helped remind me of how really important language is for culture. So I think it’s really awesome that a lot of us had the chance to learn Korean too to learn the culture.
Another important part of culture is food! Food is just the best :) I’m sure we all had plenty of time to enjoy all the great food in the Korean cuisine, and I will for sure miss this part of Korean culture.
My second takeaway is education – we are at school. As my first study abroad experience, Ewha was a unique learning experience both inside and outside the classroom.
First, I learned to be audacious through my International Relations of North Korea with East Asian Countries class, as pictured here. It was amazing hearing lectures and stories from a professor who had been to North Korea on numerous occasions and who taught as an expert. And it was even cooler to be encouraged to make my own conclusions on how to solve the North Korean crisis. As a Korean, reunification is a personal interest too, and I’m glad to now truly understand what it will take.
Outside the classroom, I learned a lot through field trips. At the House of Sharing pictured on the left, I felt like I encountered real history. Looking at the exhibitions about Japanese abuses to Korean women, it felt like just looking at the history I had already heard from my parents. But meeting one of the actual halmoni’s or grandmothers who survived Japanese abuse actually made the history feel more tangible. At the DMZ, I got to see the place only talked about it in class. It was really awesome seeing a lot of symbols of hope for reunification, like a photo gallery of meetings between the presidents. Also at Dorasan Station, I got to see the unused train track connecting the North and South, and just imagining what it would be like for people to casually go back and forth in the future was really meaningful. I think my education at Ewha taught me that you can only learn some things by going to a different context or being in a different country.
My third and last takeaway is simply people. Most of life truly is the people you’re with and I’m glad to have met really good friends at Ewha. I actually had the chance to do a lot of tourism earlier this summer going to Thailand, Japan, and throughout Korea, and while traveling I realized that there’s only a certain extent to which visiting the places is really appealing. The places themselves have a limited amount of value, and the bulk of tourism is just hanging out or spending time with the people you’re with.
Seoul has a lot to offer and it was awesome exploring Sinchon, the Han River, Namsan tower, Lotte World, food markets, and everything else in between, and I’m really thankful for the friends and chingoos that I could enjoy it with. This was just a snapshot of my experience at Ewha and what I am taking away. I hope these takeaways also help you think about what you’re going to take home from these last four weeks at Ewha. Thank you.