The Struggle Is Real

Drive to Seoul

So when I first embarked on my adventure to study abroad, I had a perfect image in my mind: it would be magical, I would have zero amount of trouble, and life would fall into place. Well, this is not what initially happened. No one wants to tell you that when you first arrive it’s chaotic, I could not figure out anything, having no real idea of what to expect my first impressions were not good. As it is my first time in South Korea, I could not read anything, so trying to find where I was or wanted to go was almost impossible. Next, I had to try and find the University from the airport, well my University was about and hour away. So I’m riding in this bus just hoping that I am going to the right place and that I didn’t make a mistake somewhere along the way. I did manage to find the University with minimal problems, but then my next challenge was the dormitory. They had switched me rooms with another girl and had lost my paperwork and did not know which room I was supposed to be in. This accounted for a couple hours where I had to sit while the coordinator called multiple people and ran around trying to find out which room I was supposed to be in — did I mention that I hadn’t slept in 26 hours? The first night was intense and exhausting, the sleep deprivation and lack of knowledge about the language accounted for me crying for pretty much the entire next day.

I could not find my way around campus, I had no idea where to get food, and I was already kind of done with my trip by then. And the problems kept coming, even though I had registered for my classes weeks before I left, I still managed to completely change my schedule. My classes are supposed to be in English, but the students are pretty much at the mercy of the professors and if they don’t want the class to be in English, well then, it’s not in English. I got kicked out of two of my classes because the teachers wanted to teach in Korean instead. This put me in the position of racing to find any class that was actually taught in English to fill the gaps in my schedule. Needless to say, the first week was disappointing. But then I went to orientation, and I found all the buildings, and I went off campus to see the city. Suddenly everything seemed just a little bit brighter. I started learning the language and could at least read street signs and menus. I didn’t feel so alone anymore and I started to feel more relaxed. So while everything is good now, I was completely unprepared for the initial shock. It was not all rosy and amazing; knowing that you’re going to be living in a foreign country where you don’t know the language and really don’t know the culture is a huge event to wrap your head around, but actually pushing through the uncomfortable period is worth what is on the other side.


Emily Noe is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying History. Emily is spending the semester abroad with Dongguk University in Seoul, South Korea. Emily is working towards achieving her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate in history.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.