International Studies & Programs

Cultural differences highlighted Makaela’s experience in Korea

The experience of traveling to this different country allowed for much growth, adventure, and fulfillment and I truly loved being there.

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Published: Thursday, 28 Oct 2021 Author: Makaela Lewis

outside castle.jpgI had the pleasure of going to South Korea this summer. Korea is a very beautiful and vibrant country with many sites to experience. From the lush and green mountains to the calming Han River to the loving atmosphere of Seoul Tower to the amazing Gyeongbokgung Palace, there are many places to explore. The experience of traveling to this different country allowed for much growth, adventure, and fulfillment and I truly loved being there.  

My experience abroad in South Korea helped further my academic pursuits in learning another language. My goal is to become a polyglot and by going abroad, I was able to start learning Korean properly which I’ve wanted to do since I was nine. Personally, I’ve always wanted to learn about other cultures, and by going on this program, I was able to do just that. I’ve always wanted to travel the world as well, and this was the first country I’ve been to outside of the United States. Being on my own in a different country for the first allowed me to become a more independent adult. Being able to take a break from my normal life and experience a county I liked for a long time also helped my mental health. Being there furthered me from an educational standpoint as much as it did from a personal one. 

I had nerves surrounding the fact I didn’t know enough Korean to communicate successfully with others. Those feelings mostly disappeared after some time. There are other ways to communicate with others that don’t speak the same language as you. After taking my first Korean course there, I was able to communicate a little, but not very much. There was a lot of body language like thumbs ups and such and the use of a translator.Namsam Seoul Tower.jpg

The culture in Korea is different from the culture here in the United States. Korean culture values respect and is more so collective versus individualistic. Within the language, there are different ways to refer to people older, younger, or in different positions than you. There’s also formal and informal language used in different situations. There’s a bowing system that has rules to it as well as turning away from those who are older than you while drinking alcohol. The ways of showing respect there differ greatly than here in the United States. The people there are so kind and it’s very clean there. It was very cool to see such differences compared to how I grew up here in the States.

Name: Makaela Lewis
Status: Junior
Major: Genomics and Molecular Genetics (CNS)
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Program: Yonsei University – Summer in Seoul