Three Georgia College students are visiting the rolling green hills of South Korea this summer – where Buddhist statues, cherry trees and quaint fishing villages dot the countryside.
But their experiences there will be vastly different.
Senior Janileyah Thompson of Newnan is an intern, living in the modern city capital of Seoul. Majoring in mass communication with a minor in marketing, Thompson’s working in the Pangyo Tech Valley in Seongnam, an hour commute by subway. She competed against other applicants to work at the complex, which deals with information, cultural and fusion technology.
Thompson’s work focuses on promotion and crowd-funding for a start-up tech company called DNX Co. This experience will help her with time management and flexibility – things she’ll need in the future as a strategic communicator.
She wanted to go to South Korea, ever since a high school assignment where she had to watch and analyze Korean soap operas.
“That was the catalyst, and I’ve been intending to go there ever since,” Thompson said. “My mother’s in the military, so we traveled frequently in my younger years.”
Thompson’s been in South Korea since May and will return late July. She lives in an apartment in Seoul with four other American college students.
“It’s exciting to be able to share this experience with other people and to have a foundation of support I can rely on whenever the culture shock gets intense. Nothing is more stressful than figuring out Korean recycling. And there is no such thing as personal space on public transportation here.”
In Seoul, Thompson will be able to visit attractions like the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Gyeongbokgung Palace which once had 7,000 rooms and Jogyesa Temple with its ancient locust and pine trees.
Junior art museum studies major Frida Hooper Campos of Woodstock is the first Georgia College student to study abroad for a year at PuKyong National University (PKNU). She’ll arrive mid-August in the town of Busan and come home next June.
Like Thompson, Campos also dreamed of going to South Korea since high school, where she learned about Korean ceramics.
“Since then, I’ve always been fascinated with Asian art,” Campos said. “I slowly want to visit Asian countries in order to learn about their culture and art.”
Campos will room with a Korean student at PKNU. She hopes her roommate can help her learn Korean language and culture. Busan has a “huge variety” of coffee shops Campos is looking forward to sampling. Some are themed after animals, like cat and sheep.
Campos hopes to visit Japan while abroad and see Japanese friends she made when they studied abroad at Georgia College. She also hopes to rent a car and drive to Icheon Ceramics Village in Gyeonggi-do, where traditional pottery has been produced for more than 500 years, since the Joseon Dynasty.
Other sites around Busan include multiple Buddhist temples, like Yonggungsa and Beomeosa, the APEC Naru Park, Haeundae Beach, Jagalchi market and the Busan Museum of Art.
“I guess the most challenging thing will be the time difference and making sure to call Mom often, so she doesn’t freak out,” Campos said.
“I hope to return to the U.S. more fluent in Korean and with a better understanding of their culture. I also hope to come back with a variety of knowledge about Korean art,” she added. “I think this will be a wonderful experience that will teach me to be more culturally aware.”
Senior Paris Boyd of Roswell chose to visit South Korea, because she wanted to see Asia and experience a culture completely unlike her own. Majoring in psychology with a minor in international studies, she’ll finish her degree this summer at Korea University in Seoul, then backpack through Southeast Asia from August to October.
“I didn’t know much about South Korea before I applied, and so I thought it’d be a great learning experience,” said Boyd, who has traveled previously to Italy, Costa Rica and Iceland.
In November, Boyd will be assigned to a school in South Korea to teach English for a year. The psychology department has sent other students to teach English in South Korea: Alumna Courtney Howell was there last fall, alumnus Tyler Lewis is still there, and alumna Katie Pelech spent two years there.
Boyd will live in a dorm with a Korean roommate. She doesn’t speak Korean yet but is eager to learn.
Her biggest challenge will be finding enough time to see everything.
“I’m very excited to experience the history of South Korea,” Boyd said. “I want to see as many museums as possible, and I’m also excited to try different foods that aren’t available in the United States.”
“I particularly want to go to Busan and see the beaches,” she said. “I’ve heard it’s beautiful, and there are temples to see. Surfing can be done there as well.”
For more information on Georgia College students in South Korea, please check back for updates.