Korea First Impressions

What were your first impressions of South Korea?

Before I left for this trip I was super nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to connect and make friends. When I got to the airport and saw Valerie and Valentina they were immediately so open to talk to and were super nice, which made me happy that I decided to do the Experiment. The first day we arrived in Korea I was exhausted because I didn’t sleep too well on the airplane. Thank God we were able to sleep for two hours before because if we didn’t I would have fallen asleep. I am super happy to be here. I love every aspect about Korea.  – Sarah

When I first arrived to Korea I felt extremely excited and nervous. The first thing I noticed was the fast fact difference in geography in comparison to my home in New York City.  In the afternoon I was surprised how densely populated Seoul was both in people and in the massive amount of cafes, stores, and businesses. The evening was really nice because I felt so comfortable at the hostel we stayed at and that was when I really started becoming close and friendly to the members of my group. – Jessie

Cafes, restaurants, and shopping centers are open any hour of any night. The food is spicy but delicious. The city is filled with green space. The people share similar fashion sense. Buildings are crowded together in a cute Tetris kind of way. – Caitlin

Morning: The plane ride was extremely efficient and I slept most of the ride. I was stuck between this friendly Korean grandpa who helped me put my bag in the overhead. The airport was organized and we were on our way to the hostel. I was very tired but i pushed through and kept going. Afternoon: By lunch time I was really hungry and we had bibimbap that was really good. And we walked around a lot while looking at the city. Everything was completely different from Florida and was more compact. – Valentina

The greatest part of the morning was probably the fact that I was able to walk on solid ground and that I was able to see such amazing scenery on the way to the hotel (for the five minutes that I was awake). The afternoon was exciting because it was my first time trying authentic Korean food and coffee! The coffee was a dream come true since my energy was rapidly depleting and I needed to charge up. Also, orientation was very educational! Lastly, at night I was peer pressured into eating bean sprouts which turned out to be pretty great!! – Mariana

My first day in Korea was quite eventful. In fact, we were so busy that it felt like several different days compounded into a single one. When we first arrived here early in the morning, it was so peaceful and serene. However, when we walked around Hongdae to experience its nightlife, it was as if we were in a new area. It was so cluttered with people, music was pounding in my ears, and there were so many neon lights illuminating the dark sky. It felt surreal, but I definitely liked the night buzz much better than the quiet occurring in the morning. – Crystal

In the morning after arriving yesterday, we drove from Incheon and got to see some of the mountains and cities around us. It was very pretty, but also interesting to see how the natural and industrial worlds coexisted in Seoul. Compared to many cities back home, it’s very green and open. In the afternoon we walked around and explored Mapo, which is the section of Seoul we are staying in. All the shops are very close together, and there are signs everywhere. Many of us were trying to practice reading Korean by looking and the various advertisements. We also saw many people walking around and saw various street performers. Even though it was crowded, I really enjoyed the shops and the different fashion that we saw. – Charlie

Once, we started wondering around our Hongdae neighborhood that’s when it finally hit me that I was in Korea, not when we were boarding the plane here or when we landed in the Incheon airport. I was exhausted from the plane ride, and maybe that was the reason for me not realizing that I was actually going to live in South Korea for a month. However, I wasn’t alone on this journey because on July 4th I met 14 other people that would be doing it to. They were all kind, smart, open-minded and had their own special attributes. Knowing that I was not going to be alone reassured me that I was not only going to have a fun time, but  also an extreme learning experience, about Korea and its background. In S. Korea, the people here they may not look as different to me compared to my peers, but the way they act, the values they carry and the culture they live by is much different. I cannot wait for what is to come on this adventure because so far it was amazing. P.S: The food given on Asiana Airlines was so good!  – Valerie

The drive from Incheon Airport gave an opportunity to see the interaction between urban development and the natural mountain landscape. This picture resonated with me as this country’s rapid development is phenomenal as well as the cityscape’s breathtaking flow through the valleys. In Seoul itself, each part of the day has something new to offer: in the morning there are traditional shops offering to rent out Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and tours into the museums; at night, areas like Hongdae are abuzz with eager shoppers navigating the glowing-neon streets full of trendy clothes, assorted cosmetics, and talented buskers. – Husam

It was a bomb day. My feet were hurting but it was fun. They lights and shops were something different from America. I loved how the style of the people, but the outfits all go together. It’s such a nice place. – Aqila

On our bus ride from Incheon to Seoul, the water and mountains were beautiful. I was very intrigued by how the apartment buildings were in compact groups. Later, we walked around Mapo-gu which was interesting to see how many businesses were compacted into a relatively small space. What was most astonishing was the difference between morning and night. In the morning we were one of the only people on the street, but at night there were crowds of people walking around,shopping, and performing. This was probably my favorite part of our first day in Korea! – Stacey

I felt the first day was pretty all over  the place. We we’re trying to get so much down with not enough time and everyone was so tired. But I loved what we were able to do. Like eating the food. I didn’t like bibimbap, but I did like the beef at dinner. Being in the area that we were in it didn’t feel like we were in a different country. I feel that if I wasn’t as tired as I was, I would have enjoyed the first day more. – Amya

Although I was extremely tired after a whole day of traveling, I was excited to be in Korea. I knew when I was coming to Korea, I would really like the architecture but seeing it in person was just amazing. As the day progressed, I noticed how much faster life got in Korea. Being stared at has taken me a bit to get used to but, it makes me reflect on how my presence might be perceived by Koreans. Nothing stunned me more than the nighttime, it felt so unreal to even be here.  – Anahi

Morning: Seoul was very quiet and still when we first arrived, the few people who were out were silent and by themselves. I could tell how busy it would get, but at that point it was just very peaceful like the city was sleeping. Afternoon: The afternoon seemed kind of like an ordinary business day in America, but the fact that everyone spoke in Korean and everything was written in Korean and the scenery was so new, it made it feel very different than what I was used to in the U.S.  Night:  After dinner, on our walk, it was extremely busy, with what seemed like the whole city out on the streets watching busking or performances, going to shops, and eating food. It contrasted a lot with the morning at 5am, showing the duality of the city which was really cool to see. – Melody

Korea is fascinatingly different than what I’ve experienced before. The varying architecture was something I noticed first while looking out the window of our bus. What impressed me even more was the communal style of eating during lunch, which brought our group together. A Friday night walk through busy Seoul was actually very emotional for me, because I could see many happy couples and friends enjoying themselves. I hope I use more Korean as the month goes on to get even more cultural experience every day! – Chase