UMD: A Globally Connected University

Erin McKearnan

Program: Yonsei University (direct enroll)
Term: Spring 2016
Major: Electrical Engineering

Study abroad really forced me to see what I like doing and what I didn't. This is due to a language and cultural barrier. I have to try harder to do different things, and if I didn't like it, it didn't seem worth it because of all the trouble. Yet, I also was able to explore so much of the Korean culture and find so many new things that I liked doing, that losing old habits was like shedding old skin. 

It was my first day in Korea... I sat down at the only spot on the train then this [elderly] lady came on and I gave her my seat. Then another [elderly] lady came on. They both started to talk to me in Korean, which I didn't speak. I then became so homesick that I started crying. This is when one of the ladies offered me her card which said that she owns a bakery and she mentioned that I should come with her to eat some bread. From this, I made a language partner. We have spent time teaching each other English and Korean. This kindness that she has shown me was the greatest thing that I've ever experienced and my favorite memory from Korea.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I would say to make sure that [you bring the] things that you think are necessities or would want to bring, from snacks to toiletries. [This can] help you avoid getting homesick. I brought 6 pounds of Twizzlers to Korea because I knew that I wasn't going to find something like that. I also wish that I knew how much of the culture in Korea focused on couples or groups. It was hard for me to make friends at first even though I was in an international student dorm. So I would recommend that you join a club or just go out and try hard to meet people. If you do come with friends, try not to only hang out with them all the time. You came abroad to learn about another culture and meeting people from there is the best way to do that, rather than just doing tourist stuff with your friends.