Friday, December 20, 2019

Coming back more confident, more outspoken, more insightful

As the end is approaching of my study abroad, all I can say is how blessed I am to have experienced and seen everything I have seen. I now can say that I’m coming back as a better version of myself. During the past couple of weeks, I traveled to Taiwan and Japan, countries I never in my life thought I was going to ever be able to see. The sights, the people — the experience — was perfect.

My experience in the classroom has been as impactful as my experience outside of it. In my North Korean human rights class, as well as my social change class, we have an hour of class per week dedicated to discussion. In my North Korean human rights class, we consider global situations and put them into perspective considering North Korea.

During my class discussions we form mixed groups. And so my group is a mixture of Korean, American and Japanese students. Hearing their opinions and perspectives is interesting. Even If I do not agree with their position, it’s interesting to hear their reasoning as to why they think the way they do. Due to members being shy about speaking English out loud, I become the spokesperson of the group and that’s powerful.

Relaying others’ opinions about serious topics has definitely improved my public speaking skills and my confidence. It also has made me become aware of my lack of knowledge of political and crucial events that have happened.

As for my social change class, we examine sociological patterns and students present on a question posed by the professor. It makes me critically think of things I take for granted. During our last class, the question “Why is inequality growing?” was posed. Inequality is something I know is present but never thought of reasons for it myself. It made combine what I’ve learned in all of my classes and think about it as being something bigger than myself.

I’ve learned from my time here how often we restrict ourselves from exploring and learning more. There are topics such as the Civil Rights Movement that I thought I knew everything about. Turns out I don’t. I’m doing an in-depth analysis with a group of Korean students comparing the American Civil Rights Movement to South Africa’s Apartheid. I was amazed at how little in-depth information I knew. And so my class challenged me to learn more of something I thought I knew everything about.

As for my travels, I did a solo trip to Taiwan. I didn’t realize how little worth I put on myself until this trip. I enjoyed being by myself and learning how to use the metro system, getting lost and finding and spotting some of the most gorgeous sights I’ve ever seen in my life. The details of the temples I visited intrigued me, as to every single one of them meant something.

The week following Taiwan, I visited Japan. The places I visited in Japan reconnected me to nature. Japan merges history, nature and city life beautifully — I need to go back and visit other cities! I’m sad to leave soon, but I feel good as I’ve done everything I wanted to do and experienced everything I wanted to. I became best friends with my Korean roommate (which I’m definitely crying for at the end) and met people from all over the world whom I can now call my friends. It would be a lie to say that I might see all of them again, and so instead I’m saying, I’m grateful to have gotten to know each person and their story.

I’m coming back to the United States more confident, more outspoken, and with an insightful and curious mind ready to question more of what surrounds me. I also gained 30 pounds here, and so that’s a personal souvenir I’m bringing back :D I know BU is finishing the fall semester, but the semester ends late here and so I will depart the beautiful land of South Korea on Dec. 22. I will definitely come back, but this time with family and friends. The places I’ve visited are stunning, but the memory is more meaningful when shared with those you love.

If I hadn’t chosen Bloomsburg as my undergraduate institution, I wouldn’t have had this life-changing experience; and so I’m eternally grateful for the donors of all the scholarships I received to make this happen.

— Liz Hernandez, a health sciences and sociology dual major, is studying abroad this fall in South Korea at Korea University in Sejong, studying such topics as North Korean socio-culture and human rights, as well immersing herself in the Korean culture such as experiencing Chuseok and learning to cook japchae.

#HuskyAbroad #ProfessionalU #BloomOnward #HuskyUnleashed #BloomUpward

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