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Isabelle racconta il suo primo unforgettable month in South Korea...

“Megan and I were welcomed warmly by our host mother upon our arrival in South Korea, on February 27th, after a 13 hour flight from our international gateway. Meeting her for the first time ever at the airport, we were relieved to see how enthusiastic she was about us becoming a part of her family; treating us as if we were natural family members, and making sure that we were as comfortable as possible. Our first night was great, and despite being tired from a long journey, we were still able to enjoy eating chicken with the family and learning more about each other.

Our first few days in Korea were labelled as our “honeymoon stage.” We explored Daegu, visiting the street markets, downtown, and even the school that we would soon be attending. During these few days, we had managed to make our own inside jokes; our host mom teaching us that humor and body language was the key to breaking any language barrier.

School started March 3rd- something extremely nerve-wracking for me, considering I have only ever been homeschooled. Megan had her concerns as well, considering English wasn’t her first language, and she only knew how to say “hello” in Korean. Upon our arrival, to school, Megan and I were immediately thrown into class. We had barely even entered our new classroom before screaming could be heard from everywhere. Once sat at our desks, girls had instantly crowded around us; introducing themselves, complimenting us, and asking for our numbers. It did calm down a little after several days had passed, but we would still randomly get crowded around, or have students from other classes come to ours to say hi or just sneak a glance.

It was quite a big culture shock, since we hadn’t expected such big reactions from the students. Megan and I now have a collection of letters, drawings, and other small gifts from our classmates. They have all been so helpful and kind to us, that I couldn’t think of a better first experience attending school.

After a week of being in Korea, our host mom decided that it would be interesting for us to see what it was like attending a Korean church. I’m glad she took us, because we have gained a lot of new opportunities because of it! Our first time attending church was a bit awkward thanks to being foreigners with a language barrier. We also realized that our host mom was quite clueless about what to do during mass, since she was Christian and had never attended a Catholic church before; although slightly embarrassing, we are now able to look back and laugh at the several mistakes we made at that time. The Priest even greeted us himself, and after mass invited us to have coffee with him in his office. Only a week later, we were invited by another priest to attend a soccer opening ceremony at Daegu Stadium, where after the game, a group named Bolbbalgan4 performed! We then had Korean barbecue for dinner, and after went to a Priest concert (I had never seen a band made of Priests before, but it was amazing!).

We’ve been honored with so many great experiences, varying from wearing hanboks and exploring Korea’s history in Gyeongju, to relieving our stress at the Noraebang with friends after school. We have also been able to eat so many delicious foods, although I have to admit that some of them have made me scream from shock (for example: my host mom scooped an anchovy head out of my soup when I wasn’t expecting it).

This has been the most memorable time of my life. Besides gaining the life-changing experience of living in a foreign country, and learning a new language and culture -I have also gained a family that I know I will keep in my heart forever.”

Isabelle

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