Shebly Gogal

Shelby Gogal on Nami Island.

While improving her Korean skills in South Korea, Shelby Gogal has squeezed in time for exploration in the city of Seoul, traveling anywhere from a cozy cat café to a grand Korean palace.

Gogal is a third-year majoring in linguistics and minoring in Korean. She is spending the autumn semester at Korea University in Seoul, studying history, language and linguistics. 

“My overall goal was to make the best of my time here and to try everything I can, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far!” Gogal said. 

Wanting to study abroad since studying Korean in high school, Gogal was also inspired by her sister’s time in studying at a branch campus of Korea University in 2019. 

“I cook a lot of Korean food at home and have taken a Korean language class almost every semester at Ohio State, so I knew I needed to go and experience the culture and language firsthand before I graduated,” Gogal said. 

 On top of attending her Korean class four times a week, Gogal participates in the university's language exchange program twice a week for an hour and a half to practice her Korean skills and help her partner improve their English skills. All Gogal’s coursework is online as a precaution against COVID-19.

“I also wanted to earn enough credits to complete my Korean minor and further my Korean skills,” Gogal said. “I would definitely say my Korean has improved, but I am very aware that I still have a long way to go until I can consider myself fluent.”

When not making her own lunch after class, Gogals walks to the main street in Anam and finds something there. 

“Good food never cost too much, and lately, I have been obsessed with a small restaurant where I can get eight dumplings for 3,000 won—about $2.50!” Gogal said. 

Lately, Gogal has been exploring neighborhoods in Seoul after class, traveling to different neighborhoods on the subway and finding dinner and study spots. When her roommate comes with her, they also eat dinner together and then head back to the dorm around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. 

“You can get basically anywhere in Seoul via subway, and we’ve definitely taken full advantage of this,” Gogal said. 

Gogal has made it a goal of hers to visit lots of historical and entertaining places like museums, palaces and amusement parks in South Korea. She also manages to combat homesickness with a cat café in Seoul, reminding her of the five cats she has at home. 

“I have recently become a regular at a cat café in Hongdae,” Gogal said. “I know almost all 20 of the cats' names and can get there without any directions on the subway.”

When Gogal first arrived in South Korea, she struggled with quarantining for two weeks in her hotel room, especially because she had left the United States by herself and had to watch people freely walking around Seoul out her window. 

“However, I made it through quarantine and have made a lot of great memories since,” Gogal said. “The two weeks in quarantine now feel so short that it’s as if they never happened.”