Features

Abby Jung

Abby Jung

Abby Jung, a third-year in molecular genetics, has been learning far more than science while studying in South Korea.  

During her fall semester global education program at Korea University in Seoul, Jung has been focusing on cultural exploration with her courses and travel. 

“I think a study abroad was always going to be a part of my university education,” Jung said. “For me, seeing other ways of life outside of the U.S. was important to further my personal growth.” 

Jung’s time in Korea was delayed by the pandemic, having been accepted to the program for the 2020-2021 academic year, and she intended to attend a different program abroad in the spring semester this year.  

“It was quite the ordeal trying to get here but I am glad I kept trying!” Jung said. “I have thought about working abroad for my future career so this study abroad was sort of a trial run to see if that might be something I would enjoy.” 

Jung’s classes are held online, so she has plenty of time to travel around Korea. There’s lots to see in Seoul, but Jung finds Busan and Jeju Island just as exciting.  

“There are still relatively strict COVID restrictions (mandatory masks, limited social gatherings, clubs and bars used to be closed fully or closed until 10 p.m., but now can stay open until midnight) so classes are still held online, which has allowed ample opportunities to travel around Korea,” Jung said.  

A typical day for Jung includes waking up at 7:30 a.m. and then attending meetings for organizations back in the U.S., which involves a 13-hour time difference. Her classes begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., but in between she makes time to visit local cafés, enjoy coffee and matcha lattes and eat steamed dumplings and spicy tofu for lunch at her favorite stew restaurant. 

“My study abroad experience has been a mixture of school stress and a healthy dose of FOMO, but in the best way!” she said.  

After classes, Jung has dinner with her friends near campus and sometimes goes to noraebang, Korean-style karaoke, or studies at a café. She takes the shuttle bus to avoid walking up the campus’ large hills at the end of the night, finding the city’s public transportation useful as an international student without a car.  

“I was born and raised in Ohio, and I do love the COTA buses, but the public transportation here is 100% better,” Jung said. “The subway and buses in Seoul are ridiculously efficient and always on time.” 

She finishes her day by keeping up with skincare, which is especially important in Korea. She’s also learned about the importance of coffee in Korea, especially Americanos, and its massive influence in Korea.  

“I thought they were exaggerations, but this is accurate,” Jung said. “Iced Americanos are everywhere, and they haunt me.” 

She’s also learned that Seoul is a “sweet tooth heaven,” with dessert cafés everywhere that will “have your teeth rotting just reading them.” 

“If dessert is your favorite meal, then Seoul is for you,” she said. 

Jung has also noticed just how many couples roam Seoul.  

“If you are single in Korea, be prepared to feel more single,” Jung. “It feels as if everyone has a boo, and yes, they will take up entire sidewalks leaving you cynical and probably late to wherever you are going.”