Eriana, outbound to Korea

Hi everyone!

Wow okay so first journal. It's hard to believe it's already time for this because it really feels like not too long ago my exchange year was still just talk; yet now, here I am! But at the same time I know my journal entry is a bit overdue because more than a month has already gone by and I almost didn't realize it. Actually, it was quite alarming to realize a month on exchange goes by that fast and I only get nine more of those months.

One month. I'm still unsure of how to describe to you all how this feels because I don't think words can do it justice. I've already seen and done so much and there have already been ups and downs and I have things that I like and dislike and quite a few things that I never would have expected to be normal to me already are. Somehow, without me realizing it so I don't know when, this place became home even through some discomforts.

Now I'm pretty happy because life has become a weird mixture of routine while at the same time every day is an adventure. On most weekdays I have Korean classes in the morning and school classes in the afternoon. After school sometimes I go downtown to a cafe with friends or sometimes I'm too tired and just go home. On Sundays I go to church with a friend and her family in a nearby city. It seems normal right? Well, what I think makes everything the most special to me are the people: my Korean friends, my exchange student friends, my host family, my friends' families, the people I meet on the streets, and even my neighbor! Actually, my neighbor's house is always my favorite house on my street because his garden is beautiful and is in just the perfect position so that you can sit and enjoy either the sunrise or the sunset (which are both breathtaking here by the way).

My friend and her family took some of us exchange students to Jeju Island and it was such a beautiful place! I've seen a little bit of Seoul as well and I love the city! The food here is amazing. First thing I'll miss for sure.

OH! Something I thought was really interesting when I first got here is that it seems most people in my area leave their dogs outside all the time. Rain or shine, hot or cold, day or night, all dogs stay outside. I'm not really sure why it was one of the first things I noticed here, but it was just so different to how I was used to dogs being cared for at home.

Also, food and makeup and actually a lot of things here are pretty cheap. But fruit are pretty expensive most times; me coming from Florida where fruits are abundant, it's shocking to see some of the prices. And clothes are so expensive here! I love Korean fashion, but Korean sale prices are definitely not American sale prices...

My first host family is lovely. My host mom is so kind right to her very core. She's always concerned with me and wonders how she can help whenever she can. My host father is a quiet man and he works very hard, but he also is very kind. My youngest host sister majors in animation and she is amazing at digital art! Her artistry is beautiful. My oldest host sister rocks so much. She has done so much for me since I got here and worked so hard to make me feel comfortable and I will be forever grateful for it. The thing about my first host family is...none of them speak english. My host mom, youngest host sister, and host dad speak zero english whatsoever. My oldest host sister speaks minimal amounts but its very hard for her to understand me most times. So, learning Korean has been a must for me.

Ah...language. It's both my favorite and least favorite part. Korean is such a cool language! I love it and all the cultural significance that goes along with it! But...it's quite difficult. I studied quite a bit before I left and even though my Korean friends tell me I'm doing well and my exchange student peers tell me I'm the best out of all of us, I still find myself wishing I had studied harder. It is definitely not the hardest language but nonetheless learning a new language is quite the strenuous task. So I am working very hard. At home everyone who knows me knows how much I love people and how much I love to talk and how much I love to talk to people. But here I am with barely the basics for getting by and it's the challenge of a lifetime to interact with people and it's so frustrating. Future outbounds be warned: of all the things to take seriously, let language make the top of your list. Your language skills will be your best friend when you get to your country.

Oh so so so much has happened and I can barely make a scratch in the surface of my life here with these journal posts. The journey has only barely begun and yet what an experience it's shaping into! I'm so appreciative to Rotary for every single second.

With love,
Eriana

To see my home page and some photos click HERE