The Clash of the Cultures (Croatia)

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Author: Stephanie Rukavina
Program: Business Administration – International Business
Study Abroad Location: Zagreb, Croatia

            The experiences in Croatia are never-ending. Since my arrival I have seen so much and experienced quite a few festivals and events that I didn’t know even existed. One of my favorite things about Zagreb is the stands that can be found throughout the center of the city. When I first arrived here, the stands were selling freshly roasted corn on the cob, popcorn, and even some sweets. It was common to see these stands on every corner! Now that the season has changed, the corn has been replaced with roasted chestnuts, and let me tell you, they smell amazing! Zagreb seems to have a large focus on local and organic food, as there is several outdoor farmers market that work every day and sell a variety of goods grown or created by local farmers. I have gone to these markets a few times now, and every time I’m greeted by everyone’s friendly smiles.

While all these experiences have been amazing, I have faced some minor challenges. While many study abroad students may agree that language was probably the biggest challenge they faced when moving to a new country, the same cannot be said about me since I am fluent in the Croatian language. My biggest challenge was leaning to manage my time, and understanding how the public transport system works. In Croatia, the culture is more relaxed, slow paced lifestyle. This is sometimes reflected on the public transport system. I have had multiple times where I am late to class because I missed my bus because it came too early, or where the bus was too late. I have learned to always leave extra time to get to class, because you never know what kind of delays you’ll face. Another challenge I faced was homesickness. I missed my family back in Canada a lot, especially my mom and my sister. I feel like I haven’t seen them in such a long time (other then our Skype sessions). And even though my dad and grandma were closer here in Croatia (about two hours driving), I still missed them like crazy as well! Just like anything, some days passed very quickly, but others I had homesickness like crazy, making this a difficult challenge.

            For other students who are also facing these challenges or worried about these challenges if they study abroad, my advice to you is not to stress with it. With all of the Skype calls and messaging, you’ll never fall out of touch with your family. It’s completely normal and expected for you to miss them, but you’ll survive! Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and any challenges you face will be tiny in comparison to what you would gain from this experience. It’s worth it, trust me!

Academics Abroad: What to expect (Germany)

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Its not a surprise that attending college or university in another country can be an unexpected change of academics and routine. This is something that intimidated me before I started classes here in Germany. There are significant differences in academics between Seneca and HNU which I had to adapt to. An exchange is a great experience however, passing all of your courses with great marks is something that requires extra concentration and awareness while abroad. You will have to deal with distractions, culture shock, slight changes in curriculum and a small language barrier. These barriers aside, it is not difficult to balance school and some travel while abroad with the right preparation and organization. This blog post will describe my experience with academics here in Germany and how I managed to adapt to the changes.

Enrollment for courses is something which was completely different from Seneca. In instead of an online enrollment portal, students manually select their classes on a sheet of paper, writing down the course code and the order of importance of the class compared to your other choices. It is important to take extra care during this process; for someone like me who did my exchange on my last semester, it was vital that every course I needed to graduate, I was enrolled in HNU. It is usually not recommended to go on exchange during your last semester but it is possible. This manual entry will not inform you on what courses you need to take; you must simply know by heart which classes you should be enrolling in that semester. Your student advisor in your international office can be a big help. Make sure any formality or decision making you do, that your international advisor is aware.

The first week of classes begins like any other institution, a brief overview of the class learning objectives and an introduction to the course topic. You will get to make a lot of friends who are also internationals in all of your classes. Weekly classes consist of about 3-4 hour long lectures. These classes can be a challenge to concentrate as the professor will cover theory for the entire class. If sitting still is not your strong point I suggest bringing in some snack or juice to keep you a little busy!

The grading process is usually marked on two tasks: A class project and/or a final exam. This means that there is a lot of free time during the semester as there are no weekly assignments. This gives you an opportunity to travel around a bit on weekends. At the beginning of the semester your professors will make it clear what holidays and long weekends you have free from lectures; they understand that a lot of their students intend to travel on these dates.

Traveling is fun and should be taken advantage of if you are already in the European continent where travel from country to country is relatively cheap. However, come exam time you are expected to know all of the course curriculum and be graded on your 5 months of lectures in one exam. This can be a stressful thought as I am used to an exam being weighed about 30-35% instead of 60 or 100%. Take notes throughout the semester and be sure to give yourself enough time to study and overview the course prior to the exam. Studying in groups was extremely helpful and benefited everyone as we learned and taught each other from our own notes.

Another change which I find I should mention is that exams and courses require completely separate enrollment. If you are enrolled in a course, this does not necessarily mean that you are enrolled in the exam. For every course other than a multidisciplinary (Gen-Ed) you are expected to enroll in the corresponding exam. Once again, consulting with your international advisor ensures that you went about the registration process the right way and confirms your actions. I think the main difference is that since the registration process is manual; it leaves opportunity for mistakes like wrong course codes, or missing enrollment of a particular exam.

I think the most valuable lesson I learned this semester is organization and information. It never hurts to send an email, or ask questions if it means you are taking the right steps in order to graduate or earn your credits. Sometimes you will feel extremely uncertain on how to do something, asking your classmates or student advisors before signing off on any important decisions will reassure you of any choices made.

I hope this helps anyone interested or taking part in an exchange. Perhaps the structure and changes may vary between countries and schools but its these types of changes which require special attention.

Safe Travels,

Catherine Camara

An insider’s take on Ulm vs Neu-Ulm, Germany

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Between the green borders of the German provinces Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, split between a wide winding river, lies Ulm and Neu-Ulm.

This place has been my home for five beautiful months. It has natural beauties and urban treasures. It can be a place to escape, build a family, start a business, even study a semester abroad. Ulm and Neu-Ulm are extremely small in comparison to Toronto but don’t be fooled by their size as they have much to offer for any student abroad.

Getting a job is possible here even if you don’t speak German. You can always use your own language to your advantage. It’s possible to find jobs in translation as well as jobs that don’t require speaking at all. There is always a need for dishwashers or back of house workers in local restaurants. It’s also possible to find a job through the University by inquiring with the International Office at HNU. I was lucky enough to find a job in translating web pages for a local company which allowed me a few hours a week to have a little bit of extra spending money and didn’t take up too much time.


Twenty-five minutes on foot from the student residence in Neu-Ulm, you will find yourself in awe at the sight of the Ulm Munster. This church is Ulm’s pride and joy sitting 750+ steps high (which you can climb!) as the world’s tallest church. Climbing up these steps is exhausting and to be honest, quite terrifying, however it’s worth the view once you reach the top.

The city of Ulm is a mix of old and new. It has historical heritage that blends in with its student culture. I would describe Ulm as a student city. There are many Universities in the area and local bars and restaurants that cater to students with free entry with student cards. There are restaurants offering varieties of food from Italian, Spanish, French, Asian and Arabic.

Here is a list of some great things to do if you ever find yourself in Ulm:

Climb the Ulm Munster for an incredible photo opportunity. – Your legs will hurt the next day!

Explore the Canals. – Ulm has a magnificent canal belt with old German architecture, it’s a beautiful area to wonder around on a cool fall day or grab a coffee at a local café terrace in the summer.

L’Osteria. – If you’re ever in the mood for Italian, head over to L’Osteria. Their pizza is the largest I’ve ever seen, a great value for the price and it’s delicious. Try something different on your pizza like tuna fish. I had no clue this was a topping but apparently it’s a popular one around Germany.

Christmas Market. – I haven’t been myself, but I have heard it is one of the largest and takes place right in front of the Ulm Munster in the city square.

Grab a Kebab. – Kebab shops are all over Germany and they’re extremely cheap and filling! I think the best I have had in Ulm is at Firat Kebab and it’s even open late!

Transportation between Ulm and Neu-Ulm is easy once you become familiar with the routes. Local trains and buses are free for students on weekdays after 6 p.m. and weekends, so buying a bus pass isn’t needed! It’s possible to take a train from either Ulm or Neu-Ulm to Stuttgart, Munich, Frankfurt and connect to close major cities like Paris, Berlin, Dresden, Salsburg, Amsterdam and more. The cost of travel is relatively equal to the TTC in Ulm and Neu-Ulm but further journeys like Paris and Berlin can be between 20-50 euro one way.

HNU is locatated in Neu-Ulm, in the province of Bavaria. The student residence is within a five-minute walk from the University, close to a grocery store, movie theatre, lake and restaurant. Although Neu-Ulm is much smaller then Ulm, it does have its charm. Neu-Ulm has a small downtown area, train station and mall, making it easily accessible and a great place to live and study with all of its amenities. With Ulm a short distance away, you can enjoy city life while living in a beautiful area.

There are many things to do in Neu-Ulm, such as:

Go for a run (or walk) along the Danube. – This river separates Ulm from Neu-Ulm, Baden-Württemberg from Bavaria. It’s beautiful at sunset or sunrise, or any time of the day really.
If running isn’t your thing you can always opt for a picnic!

Half Price lunch at peach pit. – Close to campus is an American style restaurant with amazing burgers and fries. Get there before 3 p.m. and the menu is half price!

Go to the lake. –
There are many lakes nearby that can all be accessed by bus. There is one lake a short walking distance from the University which is most popular with students. Here you can BBQ, swim, play volleyball, football and much more.

Danau Fest. – This festival takes place in the first week of July. Vendors sell all different types of German food, clothing, trinkets, jewellery and art, which line the shores of the Danube (river).

Schwörmontag. – This event takes place July 18th and is one of the largest festivals in Ulm/Neu-Ulm. Businesses, schools, families and friends make their own boats (or buy them) and sail them down the river for hours, eating, drinking and listening to music. The sides of the river are littered with people, vendors and live music.

With city life in Ulm so close by and beautiful scenery in Neu-Ulm just a walk away, it’s the best of both worlds here in the south of Germany.

Safe travels!

Catherine Camara

It’s All Temporary – Germany

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

There is a quote from Orange is The New Black which really stuck to me in the past months: “Try to look at your experience here as a mandala, Chapman. Work hard to make something as meaningful and beautiful as you can. And when you’re done, pack it in and know it was all temporary.” A mandala is a round Tibetan art piece made of sand. After months of work laying out beautiful designs, it is wiped away. The character is referring to her time at an all-female federal prison – a situation completely unparalleled to mine – but still I find this can relate to any person taking on a new chapter of her/his life.

Never have I ever expected myself to be the one who would blog about feeling home sick! To be honest, there is not a lot about home that I missed. At least there wasn’t in the first three months here. I love Europe and even the culture shock was a pleasant experience. However, all it took was a visit from my friend from home put a lot of things into perspective. Seeing a familiar face was bittersweet and brought back a familiarity I haven’t felt in three months. I missed home! I am often alone here, whereas in Canada I was living with my family of four and two cats; there was always someone around or at least some background noise. But like most things it’s just temporary. You will miss your friends, your family, your car and even the simple pleasures that would make you happy like a mocha coconut frappucino from Starbucks, or an all-you-can-eat sushi date with your best friend.


Me and my best friend from Toronto, Rebecca Rausch walking the canals- Amsterdam, Netherlands

It is important to realize that during your time here you will find people who can take the place of your friends and family for a short while. After all, its only temporary. Being alone is not a bad thing as much as it is a challenge. It challenges creativity and with it your mind adapts to the feeling of loneliness. I started to make friends, plan events, have dinner dates, play sports and create my own study abroad family. The feeling of loneliness quickly turned into independence, and that’s exactly what it is. Independence is something important to me that I can take away from this experience.

Me and my new family of International Students.

Part of being on your own is navigating in a city that is foreign and unfamiliar in every way. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, taking the bus, and loading your student card can become quite difficult with simple miscommunication. It makes everyday exciting and new, sometimes even comical. German is an extremely difficult language to learn, and though I am slowly learning, I can’t help but be helpless when it comes to ordering a taxi or pizza. It’s not easy but it keeps things interesting. When someone finally understands you, when you’ve made it to the other side of Germany on your own, or when you’ve given someone the right directions in German, it’s so worth it.

Safe Travels,
Catherine Camara

Exploring South Korea

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Author: Ki Ho An
Program: Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology
Study Abroad Location: Seoul, South Korea

Korea is a place where many tourists visit from all around the world, so it has been developed into a country where all the foreigners can easily commute to places and and communicate with people with so that they can enjoy their stay without much trouble. The population of South Korea compared to Canada is higher by about 15 million people while its land size is much smaller. Due to the high population density, everything here is very fast paced and it can get hectic at times. There are about 20 million residents in Seoul (3 million in Toronto), the capital city in South Korea, and it is very busy all the time. Seoul is known as the city that never sleeps because there is always something fun happening in the city! Even though the land is small, there are many different cities that are known for their unique and delicious cuisine which some are also traditional food.

One noticeable difference in South Korea compared to Canada was how the buildings were layered out due to the tight space and high population. The buildings are built up high and underground subway stations are built all the way down to a ninth level. There are convenience stores on almost every block and I was amazed by the variety of products that are available! There is a wide selection of restaurants as well and South Korea is known for being so advanced in the food delivery culture that we are able to order and receive food anywhere in the country!

Since I have work during the weekdays, I wake up early on the weekends to visit my relatives and explore tourist attractions. One weekend I went to visit my grandparents who I haven’t seen for many years. During my short stay with my grandparents, we went to visit the provincial office which seemed like a palace, even larger than the White House! We also went to visit a historic village called Hahoe where I coincidentally happened to see the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Another weekend, I went to visit my cousin’s university where he was also studying aviation abroad like myself. When his classes ended we decided to stay at a resort for a day which was located right beside the ocean. I had the opportunity to try some seafood that looks nothing like I have ever tried before, but it was delicious and fresh since it was picked right out of the ocean that morning! I still have about a month and a half left in Korea with many more places to visit.

An International Family in Germany

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Author: Catherine Camara
Program: International Business
Study Abroad Location: Bavaria, Germany

Apart from taking my international business diploma abroad, one of the greatest advantages of participating in an exchange in Europe is the togetherness and flow of people and ideas from all over the world. This blog post is not about school in Germany, nor is it about my life here. This blog post is about learning from more than just a lecture; its about an experience and lesson that school, teachers, and work cannot teach you. The people you meet, the places you will go can teach you valuable skills that can be applied when building business relationships and in every day life.

Not only do I know the customs and work ethic of Germany, I have learned that if a Jordanian offers you food, take it – no matter the appearance or taste. I have learned that Sweden is as multicultural as Toronto and creating a relationship with such requires more then just a basic knowledge of Swedish culture. I’ve learned that Croatians, like Italians, are passionate people with an enthusiasm for life. I’ve learned an immense amount of information on the Balkan war, an unnecessary mass killing which central Europe had no clue how to resolve; this is something which I didn’t get a chance to learn about in Canada. Also I have learned that communication is the foundation of every relationship and I am truly gifted to have English as my strongest language. Being a native speaker in English didn’t seem like an advantage until I came abroad. English is used all over Europe which made it easier for me to communicate with people and made me feel safe to travel alone.

Hallstadt, Austria – Friends from all over the globe including Jordan, Sweden, Russia, Spain, Finland, Thailand and Germany.

At first I had to get used to speaking a little bit slower. Many of the other international students would always make fun that Cameron (another Canadian student here) and I spoke too fast. Even some of the words I was using were slang and foreign to all of my friends here. Without knowing my friends began to improve their English just from having conversations with me and would even ask me to correct them if they said something wrong. It’s a great experience to teach someone something which comes so naturally to you.

Me and my best friend Jamil. Jamil is from Jordan doing a year exchange/internship in Germany. He has taught me so much about Jordan, the Middle East and values.

Amela, myself and Zhevin in Front of the Colloseum in Rome, Italy. Amela and Zhevin are participating in a semester abroad in International Business here at HNU. They are from Sweden.

Not only have I learned about over 15 countries’ cultures and customs, I have also learned about Canada. Canadians actually say sorry way more then I realized! We speak fast and nobody has a clue what a poutine or “The 6” is – things I had to explain over and over again. Together with my new international family we shared recipes, music, news and fashion. Sharing clothes with my best friends here, making dinner together, shopping, going to school and experiencing Germany with them has taught me so much more than I ever anticipated. I would like to think that after these six months I will have a better understanding of all of these cultures and I will even have made life long friends.

Safe Travels,
Catherine Camara

My Life In Scotland

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Author: Nimai Desai
Program: Bachelor of Commerce – International Business Management
Study Abroad Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

After spending some time in Scotland and in the university, I was getting accustomed to lectures, tutorial and group work. I was fortunate to make friends very quickly. Among them, two became my best friends, one from Aberdeen and the other from Italy. They stood up for me and were also my group mates. They were both very humble and gentle people and were with me on all my courses. I felt lucky for having them as my friends and hope we can keep in touch even with the distance.

Besides studying, I also enjoyed my time travelling as much as I could. One of the places I visited was the heart of Scotland, Edinburgh. Edinburgh is also the capital city of Scotland, a place which contains the high courts; sheriff courts just to name a few. A fun fact for all Harry Potter fans is that J.K. Rowling, the author of the books, started writing the books in Edinburgh in a cafe named The Elephant House. When I heard about the place, I had to go there and visit it. At the cafe entrance there is a sign written “The birthplace of Harry Potter” as well as some pictures of J.K. Rowling writing the books. I took the opportunity to have a coffee and a bite there before heading to the Edinburgh Castle, one of the top 3 castles in all of Scotland.

This is the castle where the first Kings and Queens of Scotland had resided. In the castle, there were certain cannons, and the cannon balls with it as well as the armory which contains weapons of the ancient times. One of the interesting facts about this castle is that it was used as a prison in the older time, and prisoners from different countries were held in Edinburgh Castle. It was a great experience to have known their way of living, eating and entertaining. A high point is absolutely the view, which you can see the entire city of Edinburgh.

Right next to the castle is a museum of single malts which was an interest of mine while staying in Scotland. The museum was insane! There were over 3,400 single malt whiskeys from all around the world collected by a single person named Claive Vidiz. This visit taught a lot about single malts, the heartbeat of all single malts is in Scotland.

The trip to Edinburgh was incredible. Once a lifetime chance to see the capital of Scotland and I embraced it.

Fitting Into France

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Author: Meghan DuCille
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Paris, France

I arrived in Paris on February 2, 2016 and I will be staying here until June 1, 2016. So far my experience in Paris has been fantastic! There are of course good days, and bad days, but that comes with moving to a new city. I am studying at a private university that specializes in Journalism, Media Arts and Communications. Many of the courses that I am taking are marketing and brand focused, which compliments my first semester of public relations really well.

The learning environment in France is very different than in Canada. In France, for the most part the instructors do all of the talking with minimal group work or class participation. Most classes typically have one large assignment that is your grade for the semester. The classroom sizes are small with a maximum of 35 students in each, allowing you to really get to know everyone in your classes. This year, there are eight other international students from a variety of European countries.

European international students are referred to as “Erasmus students”, which stands for European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students. In each European city there is an Erasmus Student Network that organizes events and activities for students every week. Thus far, I have participated in a weekend trip to Normandy, France and to Cote A’zur in the South of France with the Erasmus Network.

Aside from academics, the city itself is quite beautiful. There is always something to do in Paris and it usually involves strolling aimlessly along Parisian streets on a warm day. In France, between the hours of 5pm-8pm there is “Apero” which is a type of cocktail hour where bars and cafes offer discounted cocktails and drinks while you enjoy appetizers! This is a very student friendly way to socialize in this city. Paris also has a lot of “grec” or “kebab” restaurants places which are great cheap eats if your stomach grows full of one too many baguettes. The main student district in Paris is called the Latin Quarter at the metro stop Saint Michel.

The weather has been a bit dreary lately, but when the sun is out, myself and a few friends will be planning to have a picnic in Jardin Tuileries. This garden is located in front of Le Louvre museum and has the best ground view of the city and the Eiffel Tower! I cannot head home to Canada without experiencing at least one Parisian picnic!

The Belgium Diaries: The Last Page

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Author: Jamie Sterling
Program: Public Relations – Corporate Communications
Study Abroad Location: Ghent, Belgium

Classes have just ended here at Artevelde and, despite a final project and an exam in a few weeks, the goodbyes have already started.

It’s unreal.

But surprisingly, it’s not as much sad as it is disquieting. Life is about to change, again and I feel busier than ever. My days are full of studying, researching and applying to jobs, planning a short trip and slowly packing all of my things. On top of that, I’m trying to soak up every last bit of Ghent before I go.

Literally. It’s still raining!

Despite being completely in love with this city, the rain is something I don’t think I could ever get used to. Actually, throughout this experience there have been a few things that have remained completely foreign to me. For instance, there are ‘second chance’ exams where if you fail the first time you can try again during the rewrite period two months later. I just can’t get my head around it.

At the same time, there have been some things that have grown on me. I was reluctant but I learned to appreciate that grocery stores close at 7 p.m. every day and don’t open at all on Sundays. It’s inconvenient but it feels more relaxed, in a way.

And of course, there have been many things that I have embraced wholeheartedly. I will certainly miss cycling everywhere, spending sunny days sitting by the river in the medieval city centre and perusing weekly markets. Not to mention treating myself to a warme chocolademelk where the milk comes piping hot and you stir in the chocolate chips yourself!

In fact, I’ll miss all of it.

Whether I understood it, accepted it, adapted to it, or not — every part of this experience contributes to the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired simply by being here. Without the observation, problem solving and resourcefulness that come from being out of one’s comfort zone I might have never found my way to my apartment on a cold and misty morning four months ago. More importantly though, I’ve developed my relationship-building and communication skills in the context of an evolving intercultural awareness. There is nothing quite as special or as memorable as the diverse connections I’ve made here and I’m grateful to all the people I spent time with, learned from and have been fascinated by.

It’s bittersweet that the semester has come to an end but I know that when I leave, I’m not just leaving the city, the culture and my friends behind. I’m bringing with me a broader world view, an alternative perspective of my field, and a global network of wonderful and intelligent communications professionals.

So I won’t say vaarwel but dank u vel, I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity.

Summer in Seoul!

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: Ki Ho An
Program: Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology
Study Abroad Location: Seoul, South Korea

I have recently finished my third-year at Seneca College in the Bachelor of Aviation Technology Degree Program where I study and train to become an airline pilot. The program requires us to find a co-op placement related to the aviation industry and work for fourteen weeks during the summer. I was fortunate enough to find a position at the Air Line Pilots Association of Korea by connecting to the employer through an upper year student who had previously worked at the organization.

I was born in South Korea but I haven’t had the chance to see my relatives for such a long time due to the intense workload of studying. Then I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to work and travel at the same time to see my families. Working at the organization will also be a good investment from a future employment standpoint because I get the chance to work with active airline pilots and have an opportunity to receive tips on how to get started on my career. I am also able to see and experience a variety of affairs that the pilots have with the government which will help me enhance my understanding to become more mature, professional, and successful towards becoming an airline pilot.

It is my first time travelling alone anywhere far, especially to a country I haven’t been to for many years. However, being fluent in the Korean language gives me the confidence to go abroad. I love facing challenges and I am very excited to go abroad to meet great people during the summer. The organization that I work for is located right beside Gimpo International Airport; the second largest airport in Korea. It was pretty hard to find a place to live due to population density. Therefore, I decided to live with my relatives who also happen to be studying aviation in Korea and I thought it would be a great chance where we can talk a lot about our common interests.

The commute to work takes about an hour and twenty minutes one way but the place that I am staying at is located right beside a subway station and it doesn’t require much walking. The public transportation system seemed very confusing at first because the map looked like a spider web! There were multiple buses at a bus stop that travelled in different directions. I had to spend few days getting used to it, but it was very systematic and advanced. There was Wi-Fi available everywhere so I would always be able to use my smartphone in case I was lost.

There is so much variety of food in Korea that are very delicious. In fact, there are so many different foods that I still haven’t had the same meal more than once since I arrived here! There is still tons more to do and see during the 14 weeks that I will be here. I know it’s going to be a busy but amazing summer!