Jane Sitter is a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jane will be studying and participating in service-learning abroad with ISA Service-Learning in Seoul, South Korea.
A few days ago I was excited to finally receive a box in the mail that I had been waiting for. I had ordered a pair of Toms shoes online that featured flags of the world. I, like many others, have been bitten by the travel bug, so any display of international love in the form of flags, maps, and wanderlust quotes seems to grab my heart. I was excited to see the flag of South Korea displayed on my new shoes, and soon these shoes will be walking on real Korean soil.
Waiting seems to be the hardest part for anything: Waiting for test grades to come back, waiting for the brownies to be ready to take out of the oven, and in my case waiting to leave for a big adventure across the ocean. I’m wondering if I should start packing, if I could find a packing list so I don’t bring too much in my suitcase if I should buy something that I need to bring along, if I should be reading up on my destination for any details I might be missing that I need to keep in mind. It seems through all of this tiring, brain-drain, nervous wondering, the main thing I’m focusing on right now is researching more about different aspects of South Korean culture. I am realizing that with the opportunity to go to Korea and be immersed in the culture, I can return back to where I am from and share my experience with others. Most of my family and people in my community aren’t too aware of what Korean culture is like, so I have found myself doing a lot of explaining already.
For me, I hope to work in the Education field someday, so this service-learning placement teaching English in Seoul is perfect for my interests! While researching Korean culture, I stumbled upon a blog that tries to give Korean students an opportunity to speak their mind at school. As you may or may not know, the culture of education in South Korea, one could say, is much stricter and disciplined then the culture of education in the United States. I am looking forward to exploring the different facets of the Korean higher education system and how it is similar and different to our higher education system.
I want to share with you some of the messages from the blog I mentioned. In a way, I think upcoming service-learning participants can take some of these messages below that the students are speaking from their own minds as a form of reassurance that our upcoming adventure will go smoothly.