Being a Biology major in an upper level politics class, I was a bit fearful that the trip was going to be heavily politics influence with zero free time. But little did I know that I was actually going to enjoy the politics part of the trip. It enhanced the information we learned in the classroom setting. For instance, I didn’t know the grave impact the sinking of the MV Sewol had on Koreans. A year later, they still have tents up every hour and every day of the week for grieving families seeking answers from the government. I read over 15 articles about the incident on April 16, 2014 but I didn’t understand its impact until I went to Seoul and saw for myself.
This trip was also helpful in my understanding of the relationship between South and North Korea, and especially South Korea and Japan. Tour guides and students of Korea took every chance to emphasize their hatred towards the Japanese for not apologizing for mistreating Koreans.
Other than Nepal, I have never been to an Asian country so I was not sure what to expect for Korea but it definitely exceeded its unset standards. This trip surprisingly peaked my interest in international politics, although I am not sure how long it will last. Overall, Seoul was a wonderful opportunity to learn and expand my international knowledge, politically and culturally. Some aspects of Korean culture are similar to Nepali culture, which shouldn’t have surprised me but it did. This trip certainly confirmed my belief that you can only understand a culture if you fully try to immerse yourself in it, even if it is seoully (pun intended) for a week.