안녕하세요! For about a year, I'll be in Korea as a Fulbright fellow doing research on education's effects on the resettlement and integration of North Korean defectors. I'm excited to be in Korea for several reasons:
- I've been to Korea about four times in my life. The first two times don't count because it was before the age of 2. Then, the next time was in 2004 followed by a visit in 2006. It's been almost 10 years since I've been here #connectingwithdemroots
- Coming into college I was rather sure I was going to study abroad. However, all that changed when I got uber involved in life at Penn. I'm thankful that I got to travel through Penn, but my trips were only about a 1-2 weeks each. I'm excited to be living in a different country.
- Bettering my language skills! Although I was born and grew up in the states, I spoke Korean in the house (something looking back I'm really thankful for) and actually went to ESL until the 2nd grade, which is a little bit embarrassing, haha. My accent is pretty spot on, but my vocabulary could definitely improve. Being fully immersed in Korean culture=prime opportunity to better my Korean skills.
- Research! My project is an extension of my thesis (how education impacts the perceptions and attitudes of South Koreans towards defectors). Academia is a path I'm considering so this is an awesome opportunity to spend about a year doing fieldwork and getting my feet into academia.
So far Korea's pretty awesome. The public transportation and internet infrastructure is unparalleled (efficient, cheap, clean-America take note!). There is also delicious food everywhere and Seoul is a walkable city. One of the first things I noticed is that this is the first time where I'm living in a place where almost everyone looks like me. Granted, I've only been here less than a week but in some ways I feel weird because I don't quite feel like a foreigner, but I'm definitely far from being a native. Even in everyday interactions I feel this way. When people here first talk to me I think they think I'm a native, but as the conversation goes on and my vocab/mannerisms give me away, people start realizing I'm not a native Korean (e.g. lady at the mart who gave me a slightly funny look after 3 minutes of conversation). We'll see how this dynamic progresses as the year goes on, haha.
I decided to blog about my time here in Korea to be intentional and reflect. I really loved my time as an undergrad, but I feel like I was always running around from place to place, meeting to meeting and didn't really take the time to breathe #pennlife. So, in order for me to make the most of this awesome opportunity, I'm going to blog. This blog is a way to keep up with my whereabouts and what's been going on in my life in Korea! I'm not going to set deadlines for myself, but will write when I feel compelled to-otherwise it becomes more of a commitment than a free space to reflect. Already in my mind are things I want to write up-aka beauty standards within Korea (already smh-ing at Korea being the #1 plastic surgery capital in the world)-stay tuned.