Diamond – South Korea

June 23, 2022

Personally, a major takeaway I got from participating in the study abroad program was that I am not ready to move overseas. My original plan was to get a job in Japan as an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor after graduation, however, spending some time in a foreign country with no knowledge of the language made me realize that I needed to wait a bit longer to make that commitment. I also realized that countries that are geographically close to each other have vastly different cultures, social norms, and expectations. I studied abroad in Japan previously and thought that this experience would be similar, but I was surprised at the sheer number of differences. One of the hardest things that I had to adapt to when I arrived back in America was the differences in food accessibility. I decided to recreate a dish I had in Korea, and I had to substitute some ingredients that weren’t common in America. Overall, I think the dish was tasty. I want to encourage other students to study aboard so I want to either start a career as a study abroad coordinator or an international studies coordinator. That way I will be able to support students entering or leaving America. I encourage all students to study abroad, even if it’s a short program. There is financial assistance, and most programs can conform to any specific physical or dietary restrictions. It’s a great experience and you will make connections that will last a lifetime.

–Diamond Ragin

June 15, 2022

I have missed several things while studying abroad. My family and pets, being able to communicate in English and some of my favorite western foods are the things that I have struggled with the most. I don’t know any Korean, so I have been having a hard time communicating with people. While I do have members in my group when ordering food or shopping, it’s frustrating to try to communicate and understand the cashier. It’s especially rough when I need help and cannot describe my problem. I wished that I would have practiced at least a couple of essential words in Korean. While I have taken trips away from my family and pets before, I feel that due to the added stress of communication isolation being away from my pets was a lot harder. This experience made me reconsider my future. At first, I wanted to get a job teaching in Japan, and send my pets over once I had a place to stay that allowed pets. After this experience, however, I think that I will wait a little before I commit to living overseas for an extended period. While there is a Korean equivalent to foods that I am used to eating in America, the taste is different as there are different levels of food production standards and ingredients in other countries.

While I do miss some things about living in America, there are things about Korea that I will miss when I return home. Korean food is delicious, and I will miss the healthy alternatives and recipes. I will also miss the vast transportation options, especially with the rising gas prices in America. In Korea, you can use the metro, bus, or taxi services for a lot cheaper than traditional American transportation services. One thing that I will not miss about Korea is the number of stairs and steep hills, Korea is a mountainous region, and traveling uphill is difficult as I was a couch potato before studying abroad.

I do think that I will experience reverse culture shock when returning to America, specifically when paying for items and reacclimating to American culture. Coping with reverse culture shock would be easier if I were still on campus, and able to communicate and share my experience with other students. One thing that I can do is keep in touch with my group members using GroupMe, as well as the friends I made in Korea. I plan to use my experiences studying abroad as well as my academic knowledge to pursue a career in which I will work with foreign individuals such as working with a nonprofit. 

–Diamond Ragin

June 13, 2022

In this post I will explain a typical day studying abroad in Korea. I usually get up around 7:30; I keep the curtains in my hotel room open a little to let the light from sunrise in. I share a room with two other people and wake up early to get dressed for the day, so I don’t have to wait to use the bathroom. For breakfast I walk to the local bakery and get a peach tea with a blueberry muffin. It is usually busy by then and there are people going about their normal day. The streets are bustling with noise and traffic. The group meets in the hotel lobby around 9:00, to be briefed on what the day’s activities are.

An example of a typical activity would be travelling by local transportation (bus, metro, or taxi) to a museum, palace or university where we will explore the culture, and listen to a lecture from a professional in the planning field. We usually visit multiple locations in one day and may stay there for hours at a time. We have lunch in the area, Dr. Hur helps us order and explain the dishes for us. We are given free time to explore on our own and have a group dinner around 5:00pm. After a group dinner, I am usually tired by then and only have energy to complete my reflection, shower and go to bed.

–Diamond Ragin

June 3, 2022

Why I chose this program:

I needed to study abroad to fulfill my field school component for my masters program. Initially the program had to be 10 weeks (or a semester) long, however, due to COVID-19 restricts the program director made adjustments to ensure that I could fulfill the requirement. I applied for a program in Japan, as I had previously studied in Japan and have knowledge in the language. However, Japan did not lessen their entry expectations therefore I had to choose another program. Due to my background in Asian Studies, I decided to search for programs in Asia. I did not qualify for a study abroad program in China, as it was only open for Biology majors. After, I worked with Erin Taylor, the Education Aboard Coordinator and Dr. David Smith the Director of the International Studies program to find alternative programs. Eventually, I found Dr. Hur’s program focusing on urban planning and sustainably in South Korea, after contacting her and ensuing that I qualified for the program, I began the application process.

The application process was overall easy, the only stressful part was applying for financial aid. The financial aid office was extremely helpful and I was able to receive aid for the program. I am enjoying the program, and am learning a lot about Korean history and culture. I was able to quickly learn the public transportation and currency of Korea. One thing that I dislike about the program is sharing the room with the other participants. There is little privacy and time to recharge after a long day; I would rather have my own room but I understand that that would have increased the cost of the program.

–Diamond Ragin


May 31, 2022

I am enjoying studying in South Korea a lot. My favorite things about the country are the variety of food, and the public art. Usually I am a picky eater however, in order to have the full immersive experience I have been trying a lot of different foods. The foods that I have tried are full of flavor and use a variety of ingredients. While the portions are larger than I expected I can eat without feeling too full or weighted down. While traveling through out the city I have seen many art pieces that are both interesting and unique. The bench that I am sitting on in the picture below, is curved inward so that people sitting on the edge are pushed toward each other. Everyone I have met so far has been friendly and welcoming, the language barrier makes it difficult to communicate, however, most of the natives would try to communicate in English and are extremely patient. Japanese seems to be a popular forging language therefore I am able to use it in difficult situations. I wished that I would have studied more Korean prior to traveling.

–Diamond Ragin

May 23, 2022

Hello everyone! Just a brief introduction: my name is Diamond Ragin and I am completing a master’s in international studies with a concentration in student affairs in higher education at East Carolina University. I’m so excited to let you all know that I will be studying abroad in South Korea beginning May 25th and ending June 11th. I will be researching South Korean culture as well as their sustainable urbanism methods. While completing my undergraduate I double majored in Anthropology and Asian studies, therefore the opportunity to travel to Asia and study a culture first-hand is extremely exciting.

I have a little less than a week to get everything in order to ensure that my travel will go as smoothly as possible. I have been monitoring the weather in South Korea to ensure that I will be packing appropriate clothing, and have gathered important items such as a universal charger and copies of my passport and vaccine card. Due to covid-19, international travel has changed and I have to be sure to review and abide by the restriction and polices. To avoid a two-week quarantine, I must input my vaccine information in the South Korean quarantine database as well as take a Covid test 24 hours before my departure. While I am a bit stressed about ensuring that I input the information correct and the time crunch of the testing, I am excited to travel again and meet new people in Korea.

–Diamond Ragin