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Junior reflects on Study Abroad experiences

March 24, 2014

By Amber Surdam/Stephens Senior

Although she hopes to return to South Korea someday, junior Karina Palencia is happy to be back at Stephens College where she’s studying Fashion Marketing and Management.
Palencia spent the Spring 2013 semester studying at Konkuk University in Seoul through Stephens and the Gilman International scholarship program. She enjoyed it so much, she returned in August to study at Ewha Women’s University.
Palencia remembers expecting culture shock when she first stepped off the airplane in Seoul. But she quickly felt immersed in Western influence—skyscrapers, crowded sidewalks and traffic that reminded her of the U.S.
Thanks to a friend, Tia—a citizen of South Korea and former international student at Stephens—Palencia quickly adjusted to some of the traditions, such as asking people how old they are when they meet to properly address them.
“In South Korea, you don’t talk to strangers," Palencia said. "You are introduced." 
She also learned to adjust her voice, realizing that Americans, in general, speak louder than South Korean citizens.
While overseas, Palencia took business management courses and Korean language classes. Although instructors occasionally spoke Korean, most of the time, lessons were in English.
Palencia was allowed to visit anything she desired, except North Korea. While outside of the university, she visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main and largest of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty; the Namsan Tower, a communication and observation tower; and Hwaseong Fortress, a wall surrounding the center of Suwon, the provincial capital of South Korea.
Back at Stephens this semester, jet lag lasted a couple of weeks, but she was happy to be back in a supportive and comfortable environment. 

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