Adrianna’s Study Abroad Experience

Jun 25, 2020
Ashley Watson

College brings many once in a lifetime opportunities. One of those opportunities is the study abroad experience. If you are ever presented with the chance to study overseas – take it! I wish that I could describe what the study abroad experience is like, unfortunately, I never looked for the opportunity. To learn more about study abroad, I recently caught up with a friend of mine – Adrianna Rivera-Velazquez. Last semester she studied Mass Communications in Seoul, South Korea for the fall 2019 semester. Read on to find out what Adrianna’s experience was like and how she handled it.

Ashley: Where did you study abroad and why did you choose the location?
Adrianna: I studied abroad in South Korea. It was kind of the only option if I wanted to study abroad for a full semester. The other options are mostly just studying abroad during the summer and I didn’t want to do that. But don’t let that discourage you! Jordan Anderson is willing to help anyone study where they want to if you ask! 

Ashley: Were you scared to be so far away from home?
Adrianna: I was more excited than nervous or scared. I was definitely scared of getting lost, but there was a group chat I joined two weeks before going on Kakaotalk (Korea’s premier messaging app) that was full of other Ewha study abroad students. I made plans with one other person to go to Ewha from the airport so I was prepared.

Ashley: How did your parents feel when you mentioned you wanted to study abroad? Were they supportive or not?
Adrianna: As soon as I said Korea everybody started thinking I was about to go to North Korea for some reason. My mom was very worried-like vocally worried. The kind of worried that made me worried for no reason. 

Ashley: How did you finance the trip?
Adrianna: With the $2 in my pocket. Just kidding!  $2,000-$3,000 dollars will finance your whole semester (and even less than that to be honest). The plane ticket is the most expensive part of the trip. Everything else is very cheap. You could go there empty handed and still buy everything you needed for  $100. 

Ashley: In the beginning, did you have homesickness? If so, how did you deal with it?
Adrianna: I wasn’t really homesick in the beginning, I threw myself into everything and didn’t have time to think about much else. The food was great, I was making friends, and the classes were fun. When I finally did get homesick, I found it better to hang out with people who knew what I was dealing with. Sometimes, my mom would send me a little “something something” so that made it easier too. 

Ashley: What were classes like?
Adrianna: BRUH! They were the best classes I’ve ever taken! I took four classes: Special Topics in Economics, World Women in Literature, Literary Themes in Films, and Literature and Storytelling. All we did was watch movies and then have a discussion for at least 50% of the time in all of my classes. The classes were the best part of the experience honestly. I felt like I really learned a lot not only from the course work but from the professors themselves.

Ashley: Did have free time to explore the area?
Adrianna: I had classes every day (it was a weird schedule, I had a class Monday at 12:30 and then again on Thursday at 2:00- it takes a while to get used to) and I still had time to explore the area. If you’re unfamiliar with using a subway I would highly suggest going with someone who rides them every day because you better believe homegirl almost got lost twice. 

Ashley: Tell me the best thing about your experience studying abroad.
Adrianna: Food. The food was really good, and even if you don’t like Korean food (like some of these crazy American exchange students that literally only ate like cheeseburgers for months) they do have American restaurants/food. There’s a restaurant that serves American breakfast food 24/7 in Hongdae, that’s like a Huddle House. There’s Taco Bell, Auntie Anne’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, Baskin Robbins, Popeyes, etc at walking distance. Plus Korea has delivery. From everywhere. Hollaaaaa! And everything was very inexpensive.

Ashley: What is your favorite memory?
Adrianna: There was a girl in my class who I considered my ‘class friend’ for a while. You know, like a friend you can talk to, but mostly just about one class and that’s it. The teacher was really different, so that’s what we would talk about 90% of the time. I didn’t really talk with her outside of class. One day, she invited me to watch Frozen 2 with her friends and while I didn’t want to see it, I wanted to hang out with her because she was pretty cool. I think of that night a lot. I think of how much fun I could’ve been having if I hung out with her the whole time instead of people who made me depressed near the end or who were trying to control me. I ate with her friends (who are now my friends), we saw Frozen 2, and then went to karaoke. It may seem like a very simple night, but hanging out with her  group of friends made me happier than I was in a while. I got so close to Danielle, my friend from class, that she watched me leave at the airport and we cried on each other before I left. 

Ashley: Aw, that’s such a sweet story. What about when you came back? Did you come back as a new person?
Adrianna: Yes, I feel more like a well-rounded person. I learned from different perspectives and had to learn how to really take care of myself and my own problems.

Ashley: Did you experience culture shock?
Adrianna: Space in Korea is very small. If you walk into a convenience store it’s like the size of a dorm room in Brenau with 3 shelves. Only one person can fit in most stores. When I came back I was so annoying. We would eat at a restaurant and I would go “$14 dollars? Korea would never do this to me”!

Ashley: Would you ever consider moving there?
Adrianna: No. I feel that personally, it’s a place to visit or study, but not to live. It’s just so full of people and everything is happening so fast all the time. 

Ashley: Did you meet other American students? Did you have a special bond with them?
Adrianna: I met a lot of American students, mostly in a Korean class for beginners. I had a special bond with only one, but I was friends with a lot of them. It was nice.

Ashley:  Was it easy to make friends?  Do you still keep in contact with them?
Adrianna: Super easy (if you’re an extrovert). First off, there was a peace buddy group, so you’re already friends with an Ewha student and 6-8 other international students before you get there. Then, you make friends in class, if you do English tutoring (which is easy, they accept anyone who can speak English) you can make Korean friends, etc. If you join SeoulMate that’s another easy way to make friends and have tours around Korea for free. 

Ashley: Would you recommend it? If so, why?
Adrianna: Yes! I would suggest it. And I would be happy to tell you what to do and answer questions. It was hard for me because there was no one I could ask about certain things, but they gave me an orientation guide and a housing guide that I plan to donate to Brenau with notes from me to make the transition easier if anyone chooses to go.