A Broad Abroad

I’m so used to blogging about minor grievances that announcing anything significant seems off-putting. The news: in one week, I’ll be out of the country, doing some… Seoul searching.


Some people found it disconcerting that I wasn’t more visibly excited about the prospect of studying abroad in Korea (beyond being inordinately pleased with myself for just now coming up with the highly uninspired “Seoul searching.” I plan to use it on everyone I meet, so the jury’s still out on whether I’ll have friends by the month’s end.)

Friend: Are you excited?

Me: Yup.

Friend: Why aren’t you more excited?


Me: YUP!

I’d chalked it up to my faulty, overburdened emotional processor—not that there’s much of a feelings backlog, with all the eating and sleeping and working and vegetating I’ve been up to lately—but, as it turns out, my processor was just lagging. A month’s worth of wait-I’m-going-to-be-in-Korea hit me full force about a week ago as I realized I was somehow woefully unprepared for the experience despite my having done zero preparation work.


T minus one week, I downloaded Duolingo and started swiping through lessons on the Korean alphabet. My friend told me the most effective way to learn a language is to memorize the top 100 most common words, and I believe everything people tell me, so I pulled those up and spoke them into the midnight void of my room.

Friend: Well, at least you’ve been doing something.

Me: I’m just cramming the alphabet and some common vocab at this point. I mean, I’ve got a week.

Friend: How do you say hello?


Me: That’s a very interesting question.

After Googling how to say hello in Korean, watching a YouTube video on it, finding another video directly contradicting previous video, watching several 10,000 Calorie Food Challenges and competitive eater Matt Stonie scarf down enough buffalo wings to feed a small nation, I found some past university exchange students’ Korea study abroad vlogs and fell down the rabbit hole of YouTubers giving study abroad advice. I remembered the number little details I’d need to consider, like bank accounts and cards and phone service and packing.

Me: If clothes in Korea are as cheap as people say they are, I probably only need a week’s worth. Plenty of other Americans to fashionably represent our nation.

Me: I can probably buy all toiletries there, too. And exchange money there. And get groceries. And a converter. Probably don’t need a hairdryer.

Me: *packs four pounds of protein powder minus the containers*

So if you don’t hear from me in a week, either I’m well-adjusted to Seoul and having the time of my life gorging myself on street food or I got stopped at airport security and am being intensely questioned for the suspiciously unlabeled bags of powdery substance for which I’d rather get arrested than explain why I thought protein powder deserved the most real estate in my luggage. Probably no in-between.

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24 thoughts on “A Broad Abroad

  1. A woman of the world! A worldly woman. A wordy woman. Not sure what I’m trying to say. Congrats, anyway, and enjoy (or not) the airport body cavity search. Okay, that was a bit gross. But probably not too far from reality.
    Remember: don’t make terrorist or bomb jokes on the plane. In fact, don’t even mention aerosols. They’re just as bad, if not worse.
    So…have a great trip, and try not to get too anxious.
    Cheers 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ll eagerly await updates because I know you’ll beat any airport bag search resulting in the discovery of several pounds of loose powder. Have the inspector read any of your blog posts. He or she will immeduayely recogmuse your innocence and your genius and a striking resemblance to kefe and tones of Lucille Ball and sho doesn’t love Lucy.
    Congratulations, good luck, and have fun!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have several family members who have been to S. Korea (and my sister actually was able to step across the border once in a guard shack so that she could say she was in N. Korea.) My experience prepping for moving to Saudi Arabia for a year is that most of what you need to know you find out from friends and colleagues in the first few weeks. I found that expat blogs were also helpful. But my caution is: don’t necessarily believe what people tell you. There’s a lot of urban legends, misinformation and scare tactics floating around and it’s hard to separate what’s what sometimes.

    In the meantime, just enjoy your new blogging korear . 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s so cool! I’m doing an exchange program, so I don’t think they’d let me anywhere near North Korea, which is… understandable. What was the most surprising thing about Saudi Arabia? I’ve never been. Thanks as always for reading/commenting!


  4. Just found your blog and I’m loving reading about your adventures. I’ve been abroad in different scenarios, and overcoming cultural and language differences is always a delight. I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh goodness, I am being asked to share stories! LOL. Let me think for a moment. Well, my experiences have been in Central America, so with the Spanish Language. I am fluent in Spanish, but that level of fluency has grown over the years and, no matter how fluent you may be, you can always learn something new.

        For me personally, my favorite and oddest experiences with the language is what I call the “Twighlight Zone Experience.” So, typically, if I have an experience where I am not understanding a native speaker well, or if they are confused by what I said, there is an understanding that Spanish is my second language, and we try some different ways of saying things so that we understand each other. However, there have been about 2 isolated situations, where I am translating on a medical brigade, I am talking directly to the person (often this happens with children), and they ask me, after hearing me speak in Spanish for 10 minutes, “Do you speak Spanish”? My response, of course is, “yes.” And then there is this confusing exchange of sentences where they don’t seem to understand a word that I am saying, stare at me blankly, and then continue to ask if I am speaking in Spanish. However, the best part of this story is that, we are both speaking in Spanish the entire time!

        To this day, I don’t know if the kids were just trying to mess with me or if the moon was full. But it is the trippiest thing.

        I’d be happy to share more stories. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to continue the conversation (or I can fill up your comments, lol).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The closest thing I’ve ever come to that is watching French people who speak different dialects (one was Canadian French, the other was France French) completely unable to comprehend each other. This was before I’d lost all semblance of the French language, naturally. Thanks so much for sharing—loved reading about it haha

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m glad that you enjoyed, lol. Your comment just reminded me of another language story. This one I did not experience, but I witnessed. During one of my mission trips to Honduras, we had two native English Speakers in the group, but one girl was also fluent in Spanish and the one boy was fluent in Italian. Now, since they are both Romance Languages, there are similarities between them. They ended up having a full-blown conversation with her speaking in Spanish and him speaking in Italian. It was both fascinating yet a bit trippy.

        Liked by 1 person

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