Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

Linda Mayhew, undergraduate advisor, visits CIEE study abroad program in Seoul, South Korea

Thu, May 31, 2007

March 2007 marked many firsts for me: I traveled to Asia for the first time, I experienced Seoul, South Korea for the first time, and I made a site visit to a study abroad program for the first time. The program I visited was CIEE's (Council for International Educational Exchange) program at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. CIEE runs many study abroad programs worldwide, and each year hosts site visits to a select few programs. Thanks to CIEE, The University of Texas's Center for Global Educational Opportunities, and the POSCO Endowment for Korean Studies, I had the opportunity to participate in the site visit to CIEE's program at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.

The trip was nothing short of a crash course in Korean culture. In four days, packed with adventures from 9 am to 9 pm, we toured the university, met the staff at the International College, and observed the language and culture classes available to exchange students. I visited the Buddhist Temple Pongwonsa, the DMZ, the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Royal Palace Museum, the National Folk Museum, the Samsung Museum of Art. I also strolled through Sinchon, the university area, Namdaemum Sijang, a traditional market, Bukchon, a section of town filled with traditional Korean houses, and Insa-dong, a long street filled with shops displaying kitchsy, mass-produced souvenirs, as well as unique works of art. I sampled Italian and traditional Korean cuisine, and dined at a student buffet, a Vietnamese restaurant, and a Korean Buddhist restaurant.

As my list of tourist sights suggests, Korean culture maintains a balance between the past and the present. In fact, the view from my hotel room encompassed my impression of Seoul's contrasts: from the twenty-first floor, I could see a giant television screen for advertising, a modern looking city hall and a square filled one evening with demonstrations against the FTA (foreign trade agreement) with the U.S, and an ancient palace. Between the time spent at the university and the city, I gained some sense of what type of experience a student might have while studying abroad in Seoul. After this brief trip, I envy the students able to have a semester long adventure in Seoul. I hope all our majors and language students will seek out study abroad opportunities in whatever country peaks their interest, and have wonderful journeys of their own.

View photos from Linda's trip to Korea

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