Jordan – South Korea
I apologize for the delay in writing this blog post, but I’ve been back from my study abroad trip to South Korea for three weeks now! Even though my trip lasted only two weeks, there have been some adjustments I’ve had to make since returning home.
First and foremost, one of the things I had to get used to again was the change in time zone. South Korea is 13 hours ahead, so readjusting my sleep schedule and combating jet lag took some time. It was definitely a challenge getting back into my regular routine after experiencing a different time zone for an extended period.
Another aspect that required some readjustment was getting back to my usual diet. During my time in South Korea, I had the opportunity to try a wide variety of delicious and unique foods. From spicy kimchi to savory beef bulgogi, my taste buds were in for a treat. However, returning to my usual eating habits back home meant saying goodbye to some of those culinary delights. I definitely miss the flavors and vibrant food culture of South Korea.
Another surprising thing to have to get used to is driving everywhere myself instead of relying on the accessible public transportation system in South Korea. In Korea, I grew accustomed to the convenience and efficiency of the subway and bus systems. It was so easy to hop on a train and explore different parts of the city. However, now that I’m back home, I have to adjust to the dependence on my own vehicle for transportation.
Additionally, the study abroad experience itself brought about personal growth and a broader perspective. Immersing myself in a different culture, meeting new people, and navigating unfamiliar environments challenged me in ways I never anticipated. I found myself becoming more adaptable, open-minded, and resilient. These newfound qualities have had a positive impact on both my personal and academic life since returning home.
Apart from the adjustments, one of the highlights of my study abroad trip was the opportunity to visit incredible landmarks and experience South Korea’s rich history and vibrant traditions. From exploring the historic palaces in Seoul to exploring the vast city, every moment was filled with awe and wonder. Overall, my study abroad experience in South Korea was unforgettable. It provided me with a new perspective, lifelong memories, and a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity. While there have been some readjustments since returning home, I’m grateful for the incredible journey I had and the lasting impact it has had on me.
Thank you all for following along on this adventure with me.
Earlier this week, we were fortunate enough to visit Seoul Sky, the fifth tallest building in the world with 123 floors. Despite the foggy weather limiting the views from the building, we still had an amazing time marveling at the sights that were visible. Additionally, we enjoyed exploring the building’s various attractions, such as photo stations, a gift shop, and an outdoor balcony area. Among these, the highlight for me was the elevator ride to the top. Contrary to our expectations of a lengthy ascent, we were pleasantly surprised when the elevator smoothly whisked us up all 123 floors in just one minute.
Another captivating experience was our visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the buffer zone between North and South Korea. We learned about the three tunnels that were dug by North Korean forces to potentially invade the South Korean capital. Of these tunnels, we had the opportunity to explore the largest one, aptly named the 3rd tunnel. A monorail took us down 300 meters to the tunnel’s depths, allowing us to explore its cramped and damp passageways. Following the tunnel exploration, we visited the observation deck, providing a unique glimpse into North Korea, which was incredibly fascinating.
Today though, was an absolutely delightful day! I had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in traditional Korean culture, which surrounds me 24/7. My group and I had the pleasure of wearing traditional Hanbok attire, which we obtained from a local rental store. The workers there provided us with exceptional service, ensuring that we received all the assistance we needed. Afterward, we visited a local palace, allowing our imaginations to transport us to ancient Korean times.
Overall, this trip has been nothing short of amazing, and I am beyond thrilled that I made the decision to embark on this adventure.
My ongoing journey through Korea has been an extraordinary and unforgettable experience, igniting a deep desire within me to further explore and immerse myself in the diverse cultures and traditions of the world.
Korea’s culinary scene continues to unfold as a delightful tapestry of flavors, captivating my taste buds at every turn. From savoring the sizzling delights of Korean barbecue to indulging in the comforting savory bulgogi and delectable pork pancakes, each bite takes me on a thrilling gastronomic adventure. The tantalizing creations of street food vendors leave me yearning for more, showcasing the culinary mastery that permeates every corner of Korea.
As we venture deeper into Seoul, its futuristic skyline continues to welcome us to a vibrant cityscape. The towering skyscrapers of Gangnam stand as testaments to the city’s thriving economy and global influence. Our visit to the N Tower has provided breathtaking panoramic views, allowing us to witness the unimaginable sight of endless towers amidst the bustling metropolis. Surprisingly, Seoul seamlessly blends nature and greenery into its urban fabric, offering a refreshing balance that alleviates the overwhelming presence of concrete and glass.
Our exploration has also led us to witness the transformative power of urban design and sustainable transportation solutions. The visionary projects showcased by the CA Landscape Design Company unveil remarkable road diet initiatives, turning congested roadways into inviting pedestrian-friendly spaces. We got to visit this site which has amazing water features and ample greenery and pedestrian seating. The ongoing restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream further underscores the positive impact of efficient transportation planning, rejuvenating once-clogged expressways into vibrant corridors for pedestrians, cyclists, and buses.
Intrigued by transportation planning, our visit to the TOPIS Command Center provided us with a deeper understanding of Seoul’s transportation system. The center’s automated operations, fueled by data collected from various sources, enable precise calculations and adjustments, optimizing bus routes and facilitating the expansion and upgrading of transportation networks. Witnessing these efforts reinforces Korea’s commitment to efficient and sustainable transportation solutions.
As my journey through Korea continues, it encompasses a diverse tapestry of experiences, blending captivating history, culinary delights, technological advancements, natural beauty, urban transformation, and efficient transportation systems. Each day brings new discoveries and insights, revealing the remarkable strides Korea has made in preserving its heritage while embracing innovation for a sustainable future.
I have finally arrived in Seoul!
Despite some unforeseen circumstances, such as our first flight being delayed and causing us to miss our connecting flight to South Korea, the situation wasn’t all that bad. In fact, missing the flight turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our airline took responsibility for the delay and provided us with an unexpected perk—we got to stay in Toronto, Canada for an entire day, free of charge! We took advantage of this opportunity to explore the city and had an amazing time visiting various sites and landmarks.
After our rescheduled fifteen-hour flight to Korea, I was eager to reach our hotel due to my extreme lack of sleep. However, finding our way proved to be both fun and challenging. Navigating the different subway lines and trying to comprehend the language barrier added an element of excitement and stress. Nonetheless, we managed to locate our hotel and enjoyed the breathtaking sights along the way, including stunning architecture and bustling markets.
I must admit, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the transportation systems here. The frequent arrival of trains at five-minute intervals, the abundance of bus systems, pedestrian walkways, and bike paths—it’s exactly how I envision transportation in all American cities should be. It’s efficient, convenient, and promotes sustainable travel options.
I am genuinely thrilled to embark on this adventure and fully explore everything that South Korea has to offer! From the vibrant street markets and delicious food to the rich history and breathtaking natural landscapes as well as the cityscapes, I can’t wait to immerse myself in the culture and create unforgettable memories. This is just the beginning, and I can already feel the excitement building up within me!
Hello, my name is Jordan Kearney, and I am a rising senior majoring in Community and Regional Planning with a minor in Business Administration. I am thrilled to announce that I will be participating in a three-week study abroad trip to South Korea, focusing on the topic of sustainability in city planning.
However, my journey hasn’t been without its share of challenges. Unfortunately, I encountered some unforeseen difficulties with the passport agency, which caused me to anxiously await the arrival of my passport. Thankfully, on May 12th, just over a week before my departure, my passport finally arrived. Additionally, there was a mix-up with my flight plans, resulting in my travel partner and me being stuck in Canada during a 12 1/2 hour layover on the return journey. Moreover, we will also be arriving in South Korea a day earlier than the rest of the group.
As I make the final preparations and gather my belongings, the realization that this will be my first journey outside the United States begins to sink in. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to explore a different culture, witness different practices, and experience different environments. To ensure I am well-prepared, I have taken extra measures such as making copies of my IDs, printing out my itineraries, and creating a detailed checklist of essential items to pack.
Among the various aspects of this trip, one thing that makes me nervous is the prospect of being surrounded by a language I am not familiar with. However, I firmly believe that placing myself in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation will ultimately contribute to personal growth and professional development.
While I have yet to pack my belongings, I have diligently made lists of necessary items, checked the weather forecast, and mentally prepared myself for the upcoming plane ride. I am filled with anticipation and eagerness to immerse myself in the wonders that await me in Seoul, South Korea!
All the best,