Ashley Wright

Ashley Wright is taking part in a six-week program with Korea University in Seoul, South Korea this summer.

Traveling around South Korea, experiencing its culture and practicing the language amid the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult but not impossible for Ashley Wright. 

A senior majoring in Korean, Wright is taking part in a six-week global education program with Korea University in Seoul, South Korea this summer. 

“Even with the restrictions I’ve just absolutely loved it here, and already can’t wait to come back,” Wright said. “As a person that’s been a homebody my whole life and this being my first time ever leaving the country, this has been such an incredible experience and I’m so glad I did it.”

Wright was introduced to the Korean pop music, or K-pop, when her friend showed her the boy band BTS, and she fell in love with their music. When she watched BTS’s music videos, ads for teaching English in South Korea popped up, encouraging her to pursue the career in South Korea and search for global education programs. 

“Teaching English in another country was something I’d thought of before, but hadn’t thought of South Korea,” Wright said. “It sounded perfect so I started doing research into it.”

Since traveling to Korea for her  program, Wright took a personal trip to a museum for HYBE Insight, BTS’s label, and visited many exhibits of the group.

Her program  planned excursions to Namsan Tower in Seoul, the Gwangjang market in Seoul, Lotte World, Lotte Tower and, Wright’s favorite, Nami Island. Her program also allowed her to visit the Gyeongbok Palace and wear the traditional hanbok around the palace grounds. 

“We all felt like princesses that day!” Wright said. 

Previously taking two semesters of Korean language and culture classes, she didn’t experience much of a culture shock, but COVID-19 has altered her experience in the country. Though Wright is vaccinated, she quarantined for 14 days after arriving and follows Korea’s level 4 social distancing order, requiring her to be in groups of no more than four before 6 p.m. and in groups of two after 6 p.m.

Another highlight for Wright is the country’s transportation system and the city’s cleanliness, which make for a pleasant experience. She hopes to bring her family to South Korea one day, thinking of all places she’d take them as she travels around the country. 

“It’s so clean everywhere around the city and on the public transit, which seems impossible with how many people are everywhere and what a bustling city it is!” Wright said. “My mom and I really want to take a train to Busan just to say we did!”

Despite the pandemic disrupting daily life, Wright is able to converse with native speakers and experience the country’s culture. Even though she feels homesick while in South Korea, she already looks forward to returning.

“The people here have been so kind and patient when there’s questions I don’t understand, and the food here is like no other,” Wright said. “I definitely do want to come back, and I’d love if I could bring my family next time.”