By Donteya Goldwire
One of the main reasons I wish to study abroad is the thought of experiencing another culture. When you experience things that are different from what you are used to, you are opened up to new a world. It helps you view things in a different light and makes you more open-minded Things that may not be an issue for me as an American may be different for someone living in South Korea.
Another reason I wish to study abroad is because of the profession I will eventually have. My goal is to be a therapist. As many know, the idea of needing such help in many South East Asian countries is viewed as taboo. I’m interested in learning what in their culture and historical background lead to such thoughts. What is it in this culture that makes it different from America and many other places, where it’s encouraged to actually seek help when you need it? In studying abroad, I hope to gain new knowledge and be able to bring that back to my country in hopes of shedding light onto certain ideas and global issues.
The main thing I am anticipating about my trip abroad is being able to walk the streets of Seoul, South Korea. No matter where you go you can always get a grasp on the culture and life of an area just by exploring, and that’s something I’m excited to do. I chose to study abroad for a semester to give myself enough time to explore. I feel if I were to only have gone for a month or less, I wouldn’t be able to truly understand what I was experiencing. By studying for a full semester, I gave myself time to experience a culture shock and then assimilate to the best of my abilities—fully immersing myself in a different country.
Dongguk University, which is the school that I will be attending, provides what they call buddy systems. What this system does is pair up an exchange student to a regular student from Korea. The buddy system is designed to get international students to interact with the non-international students. Your buddy shows you around campus and shares what their college culture is like, preparing you to become a student in South Korea.
When choosing the country I wanted to study abroad in, I looked at my interests and my goals overall. I knew that I wanted to help people in an Asian country after learning about how hard the conditions are teenagers and how seeking help for mental health is viewed. I had always been interested in Korean culture, but when I first started college I began taking Chinese lessons. In the beginning, I thought that China might be a good idea. Then I thought about what my life might be like in China and what I would experience. I looked up YouTubers living in China and what they thought. Yet, something always brought me back to Korea. The more I researched, the more I could picture myself in the middle of Seoul—in college and having a good time. I could see myself staying there for years and being content. So, in the end I went with Korea. Going to Korea will provide me with the opportunity to make connections with others in my profession and other foreigners on an adventure like me.
One thing I’ve learned during my years in college is that the connections you make are important. When looking for jobs or even internships the relationship you’ve had with past professors can take you where you want to be or at least help you start off somewhere. Korea is only my first step in exploring the world and discovering more about myself. After you know yourself—like Dr. Seuss once said—oh, the places you will go.
Donteya Goldwire is a senior at Savannah State University and spent the last several years studying the Korean culture and languages. She’s thrilled to be able to spend the next semester in Seoul, South Korean as part of her international internship experience.