I was looking to expand my knowledge of countries abroad through something other than classes. I really liked how Langubridge is very heavy on culture trips and encouraged its students to integrate themselves within the community. We took tons of classes, but we also got to experience the Korean culture upfront through our many trips.
Alumni Spotlight: Kaitlyn Lebsack
Kaitlyn or Katie is a 2018 high school graduate from Austin, Texas. She participated in the Langubridge Korea Summer trip in 2017.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program providers were extremely helpful while we were in and out of school. They attended all of our culture trips as well; they were there if anyone had questions about something or needed guidance. Even when we were not at school, we were still connected with our providers via Kakao Talk. They were no more than a text message away at all times. It was very helpful that they made sure that everyone knew their way home each day, and if not, they were happy to escort you back.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
For new trip members, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the area before getting there. In big cities like Seoul, it’s fairly easy to navigate due to it being an international hub. But just because a good majority of the signs are in English doesn’t mean you won't get lost.
I was super lucky to be traveling with a friend who downloaded an app of the subway system in Seoul. We got to know what it looked like, what stops we would be using, and how the whole system worked. This was SO helpful!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The average week is pretty “routine” as far as classes go. In the mornings, we would wake up at around 7AM, get ready, and head to the subway station. Once we got to school, we would have class and then a lunch break followed by our afternoon outing.
The outings were to places around Seoul and included things like museums, palaces, and markets. On the weekends, we would go as a group to an all-day trip/event, and on Sundays, we would have free time to spend with our host families.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was the border stress that is in the news between North and South Korea all the time. As an American, this is a foreign issue that is frequently placed in the public eye and is seen as a pressing matter. I was pretty nervous about going to a place where I was told such tension existed.
I found comfort in knowing that Koreans live with that pressure every day; they are strong because they don't allow it to hinder them.
Instead, they press on, and live their lives to the fullest – and that inspired me to do the same.
What is your favorite thing about Korea?
One of my most favorite things about Korea was visiting the Jjimjilbang or bathhouse. This bathhouse was where we had the last outing we took as a class. It's probably one of the most memorable, too. I loved it because firstly – it’s a spa, and who doesn't like having a day to relax? Aside from that, it was stepping out of my comfort zone that made this trip memorable.
During this spa trip, I took the time to hang out with some group members that I normally never spoke to, and it was during this time that I grew very close to them. I'm extremely grateful for this particular outing because it allowed me to learn other people’s stories, and gave me time to listen.