Now that classes and homework have become part of my daily routine again, I thought it was about time to do an update on my post-study abroad life.
For me, this past week has been a roller coaster of emotions, partly due to my busy schedule, the need to be on top of everything, and the struggle of planning my summer and senior year. Since it has been one month since I arrived back in the United States, I want to shed light on the process of re-adjusting back to Macalester and the concept of reverse culture shock. Through this blog post, I hope to dissect the mixed emotions that I feel as a study away returnee and to help others understand the transition back to "normal life."
As someone who has only experienced Asian culture through Chinese take-away and the friendships I shared with the few Filipino and Chinese friends I had growing up, it wasn’t until I attend Macalester that I could only begin to understand the Asian diaspora community. My friendship with Rachel has afforded us multiple opportunities to share our heritage with each other, no longer giving us the excuse that we were unaware of the challenges and stereotypes the other minority faced. Macalester brands itself as an international institution, bringing students from all over the world, so this sort of exchange was probably expected- but it wasn’t for my family in the beginning. Recently, my parents commented on my increased interest in Asian culture ever since I left for college and are dumbfounded as to why. I am not. It’s pretty simple really, it isn’t until you left your home when you can truly begin to realize where you’re from and who you are, or at least that how it was for me. And I believe this connection brought me closer to understanding my parent’s and Rachel’s plight when they emigrated from their respective countries to the US.
Visiting Hong Kong and South Korea made me realize how lonely, overwhelming, and fascinating it can be to be immersed in a completely new environment, surrounded by new faces, food, language, music and so much more. Yes, Koreans do really take care of their skin and hang out with others a lot and in HK there are a lot of people everywhere. While I was blown away from the efficient transportation systems and the variety of cuisines, others were blown away by my use of chopsticks and actually knowing a bit more about the culture than what they viewed me to (credits to Rachel).
Here are some questions that Rachel wanted me to answer for this blog post:
This blog post was written by Jennifer Arnold, Rachel's close friend and sophomore year roommate. She is a Computer Science and History double major at Macalester and is currently studying abroad this Spring semester at University of Edinburgh in the UK.
Near the beginning of my semester abroad, I made a bucket list for myself to accomplish over the 4 months that I was living in Korea. Now that my semester has ended and I have officially left the country, I wanted to revisit the list and see how much I have managed to check off. The items that are italicized and underlined are activities that I did not complete.
Before getting into the logistics of things, I want to clarify what the DMZ is for readers who are unfamiliar with Korean geography and history. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is the area that extends 2 km from the North-South Korean border on both sides. The DMZ is a civilian-restricted area, so anyone who visit must be part of a tour group. Overall, while the DMZ is heavily secured, the level of tension and security is nowhere close to the JSA/Panmunjom (which I will talk about further down). In order to enter the DMZ, our tour bus had to cross the Unification Bridge, where barricades are strategically placed in various lanes to (what I'm assuming) slow down vehicles intentionally.
About two weeks ago, I was in search of fresh new ideas for blog posts. Thanks to Jennifer, I think this blog post would shed some light on our identities abroad, culture shock, and homesickness....
What unexpected things do I miss from home?
This was the question that Jennifer posed to me. As a mini-project, I decided to set out and ask this question to four of my closest friends here at Ewha and myself. All five of our backgrounds and experiences are diverse and drastically different, so I believe our answers will reflect that.
And since it's Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season, I think this blog post perfectly reflects the things that we love and the things that we are grateful for this time of year.
college student. junior. international studies major. over-the-top foodie. travel and lifestyle student blogger?
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