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GlobaLinks - Study Abroad at Korea University
Javahnda Kea is currently a senior at Georgia State University located in Atlanta, Georgia majoring in Marketing and International Business. Javahnda studied abroad at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea Fall 2011 through GlobaLinks Learning Abroad. She enjoys studying new languages, cooking, and shopping.
When: Fall of 2011
Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks?
Javahnda: GlobaLinks is a leader in the field of study abroad and International Education and have been sending students abroad for over 20 years now. So they have extensive knowledge and expertise on how to provide an enriching and life changing study abroad experience for the students who decide to participate in one of their programs.
What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Javahnda: Well this was my first time studying abroad and traveling outside of the U.S., so it will always be a memorable experience in my eyes. I did not expect to fall in love with Korea and the Korean culture so quickly, nor did I except to meet so many amazing people from all around the world, who I still keep in touch with to this very day.
Describe an example when GlobaLinks went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you had a great experience abroad.
Javahnda: I think GlobaLinks went above and beyond my expectations since they helped me overcome my worries about going abroad by myself for the first time. By participating in their "Bridging cultures program", I got to meet and bond with other Globalinks participants studying at Korea University for the first time and gain a support network, along with meeting some yearlong program students, who gave us tips and advice about how to take advantage of our time abroad.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Javahnda: This experience has helped me greatly in deciding that I want to enter the field of International Education utilizing the Marketing skills I have in hopes of encouraging other students to go abroad and become global leaders. GlobaLinks has assisted me even after returning home and through them I have been given the opportunity to be an "Alumni Ambassador", which is a position any GlobaLinks Alumni can apply to become and help promote study abroad on their campus. Also, I was given the honor of being their first ever President of their Alumni Association this year, so I owe a lot to GlobaLinks and their dedication to study abroad.
Highlights: Tough question since I had a lot of highlights during my time in Korea. I think one of my favorites is a mini trip I took with a couple of friends to a nearby island next to Korea called "Jeju Island". Flights there were extremely cheap (about $80USD roundtrip airfare) and Jeju is absolutely beautiful. The atmosphere is very laid back, in comparison to Seoul and there are many great tourist spots. Jeju Island is known for their oranges (kind of like a Korean version of Florida) and they sell a wide assortment of orange relate foods and goods, in addition to a wide variety of chocolates (particularly their Jeju "Cactus" flavored chocolate is very famous and surprisingly delicious!). Also, they have a pork delicacy known as "Black pig", which is considered to be a well-known dish on Jeju island and a must have for visitors.
Lastly, we visited a smaller island close to Jeju called U-Do Island. The island is extremely small with a population of around 300 people. We got to explore U-Do's village areas and forests on our own and rented ATV bikes for 5,000won per hour ($5USD), which was extremely fun getting to tour around on fast bikes! I highly recommend future students to set aside the time while in Korea to visit and explore Jeju. We were there for about 4 days and explored the whole island within that timeframe.
My other highlight is when I participated in what is known as the "Ko-Yon Jeon". Ko-Yon Jeon is a set of sports related matches between rival schools, Korea University and Yonsei University. It is held during the fall semester of every year, and highly recognized throughout Korea. Many Korean celebrities, politicians, and other influential figures encourage each school/team as the matches are a week long and consist of sports such as Baseball, Soccer, Rugby, Hockey, and Basketball. The best part about the games is all the cheering each side does for their respective team. A few days prior to the start of Ko-yon games, they teach both Korean and international students all the various cheers (about 7-10 different ones) and during the games you cheer for about 3-5 hours at a time!
It sounds tiring, but it is actually extremely exhilarating experience as it is a great opportunity for international and Korean students to bond, support their teams and show school spirit. Luckily, Korea Uni. Won the Ko-Yon games during my time there and so there was a huge celebration on campus filled with free food and drinks paid for completely by Korea Uni. Alumni.
Morning: A typical morning in Korea consists of grabbing a quick breakfast; usually either coffee, flavored milk or juice and a fresh pastry from either one of the numerous convenience stores or cafes in the area right next to campus. After that, I would walk to class (10-25 minute walk usually). After classes, I would go to the Global Leadership Hall on campus and take a quick nap in one of the official napping facilities (they have actual beds and everything!) or I would just walk back to my dorm and take a short rest there.
Afternoon: A typical afternoon is meeting up with friends and having lunch at one of the numerous (cheap) restaurants located around the Korea University district area. On my more busier days I would just grab some street vendor food, which is always available and have a lunch on the go. If I have no classes that day, then my friends and I would hop on the subway and visit a nearby district (usually a 10-2 minute subway ride) and have lunch there. Our lunch consisted of either eating traditional Korean food (like Kimchi, Bulgogi, Rice, Bibimbap, noodles, etc) or other we would go to a place that serves foreign food options such as pastas, burgers, Indian, Chinese, or hot sandwiches.
Afterwards, we would go to a coffee shop and order dessert such as cakes, ice cream/gelato, or Bingsu (a Korean dessert consisting of sweet shaved ice and your choice of toppings) and chat. After that, we would wander the streets of Seoul, going to various shopping centers or street vendors who sell clothing and accessories such as bags, sunglasses, socks, K-pop paraphilia, etc.
Evening: In the evening, the nightlife in Korea is amazing with plenty of options for everyone. Some evenings after having dinner with friends at a restaurant (people in Korea tend eat out much more often than they cook at home since it is considered to be cheaper, more convenient to their busy schedules and a good excuse for a social gathering), we would either go shopping in one of the popular districts for young people such as Hongdae, Shinchon, Edae, or Gangnam. Our other favorite thing to do is to go to one of the many gaming rooms located in Seoul and play video games (X-Box, PS3, Wii) for a small fee (around $4-$6USD per hour). And no matter what we ended up doing ,we always grabbed a midnight snack from either the convenience store of one of the many 24 hour street vendors around.
GO: Why did you decide to study abroad with GlobaLinks at Korea University?
Andrea: Since high school, it was in my heart to go to Asia. At that time I was enamored by the cultures and customs in East Asia. By college, my interest and fascination had only increased and I wanted more than ever, to travel to Asia. Korea, to me, is kind of a unique melting pot of North East Asia it has major histories with both China and Japan, two extremely dominate cultures, as well as boasting it's own rich culture.
From the day that I decided to go to college, studying abroad seemed like a given. I've always been a globally minded person, dreaming of really experiencing cultures and societies, not just doing the tourist thing. Studying abroad for a semester or a year, really immerses you in world in a way that's really incomparable to any other.
As a student at a small university, I almost didn't think it was possible to go to Korea or anywhere in Asia, but a quick online search lead me to AsiaLearn, which, it turned out happened to be an affiliate of my university. I browsed the programs and the benefits offered and started the application right away.
I chose the Korea University program because it fulfilled both my academic needs and my curiosities. AsiaLearn was really terrific because it allowed me the opportunity to be part of a group of other American students which, as it turns out is one of the most valuable things when you're living nine thousand miles from home in a non-English speaking country. AsiaLearn also makes things simple - they tell you what you have to do to get abroad and they help you do the things that your university needs you to do, everything from course pre-approvals to visas.
GO: What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Andrea: It feels like everyday there was something special and memorable; I've been back for over six months now and there isn't a day where I don't think of something that happened in Korea. I met so many people from all over the world, Koreans, Japanese, Spaniards, Swiss, Peruvians, Mexicans, Australians and Americans alike. Living in the International dorm and going to class with all varieties of people was so eye-opening; we were all stuck together so we definitely tried to make the best of it.
The KUBA program as Korea University is really great at exposing you to the Korean university student's life. You get matched up with a buddy and then your buddy is part of a group with ten or eleven other buddies and their charges and throughout the semester the buddy group it's a great way to make friends with Korean students.
Being in Seoul in itself as a great experience, something like half of the population of South Korea lives in Seoul, it's got all the comforts of a modern city, but you'll find sprawling parks and mountains on the outskirts, there are so many cultural activities and events held in the city. Sure, you could go and do it all on your own but when you have a few friends everything, every adventure, even getting lost for hours can turn into a great memory. That's one of the things I got from AsiaLearn.
When I first landed in Korea, I had to wait at the terminal for all of the students in the program to arrive, then AsiaLearn's Bridging Cultures Program begins. So, with a whole bunch of people feeling exactly like you, jet-lagged and tired, you go off to the southern city of Busan and do a whole bunch of new things together. In those four days, I made some great friends with whom I could not even imagine how my year abroad would have been without them.
GO: How has this experience impacted your future?
Andrea: Academically, Korea University is one of the top universities in Korea, the faculty in my department were really relevant in the fields and they enjoyed sharing there passion with the class. It was really a great experience to learn from them and having the opportunity to get a slightly different perspective on economics and policy. I was also able to get into a history course that was specifically a Korean history class.
Personally, I was able to actualize a dream, I managed to discover a passion for Korean culture and language, and I made my best friends. It's difficult for me to describe all that I was able to take from the experience, there is so much and every day I find myself benefiting from some thing I did or connecting with a person that I'd never have met before. There is so much that I gained that makes me a better person, a better global citizen more prepared for the future.
About GlobaLinks Learning Abroad
GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, originally titled AustraLearn, was created by Cynthia Banks in direct response to requests from an Australian university to assist U.S. students who wanted to study abroad in Australia. They have been in operation since 1987. Since then, AustraLearn became the largest provider of study abroad programs to more than 25 universities in Australia and added new partner institutions in New Zealand and Fiji.
In 2008, AustraLearn expanded its reach to more regions of the world. EuroLearn and AsiaLearn were created as additional programs of GlobaLinks Learning Abroad to accommodate an increasing demand from students and advisors for structured, well supported, and affordable programs in destinations worldwide.