Gilman Blog #8 | What We Miss from Home

About two weeks ago, I was in search of fresh new ideas for blog posts. Thanks to Jennifer, I think this blog post would shed some light on our identities abroad, culture shock, and homesickness….
What unexpected things do I miss from home?
This was the question that Jennifer posed to me. As a mini-project, I decided to set out and ask this question to four of my closest friends here at Ewha and myself. All five of our backgrounds and experiences are diverse and drastically different, so I believe our answers will reflect that.

And since it’s Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season, I think this blog post perfectly reflects the things that we love and the things that we are grateful for this time of year.

Rachel (20)
Generation 1.5 immigrant, 1st gen college student, loves to travel on a budget
Hometowns: Hong Kong & Atlanta
Did you know that Hong Kong means “fragrant harbor” in Cantonese?
School/Major: Macalester College, International Studies
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Macalester professors
“I miss being able to talk about anything with my professors. I can’t believe that I take going to office hours and professors’ dedication to their students for granted! I miss having Patrick (my academic advisor) pick at my thinking and staff that I can talk to at anytime when I’m struggling.”

My closest friend- Jennifer
“I knew studying abroad will make me miss Jennifer since I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call her with a 15 hour time difference (like we do when we are physically separated in the States)… But I didn’t realize the extent of this feeling until I started getting thoughts like ‘I wish I could talk to Jennifer about this’ or ‘I wonder what Jennifer would think about this topic’. It’s crazy I know, because I never get homesick with family, but I think Jennifer and I have so many shared experiences that it’s weird not to debrief with each other.”

Senni (25)
first time outside of Europe, wanted to be in a large city,  loves Korean beauty
Hometown: Iisalmi, Finland
Did you know that Angry Birds was developed in Finland?
School/Major: University of Jyväskylä, psychology

Salty food
“Everything here is sweet or spicy! Things that are supposed to be salty, like Pringles, are not salty. McDonald’s doesn’t even have salt and pepper packets!”

Finland’s nature
“I didn’t think I would miss [Finland’s nature]. I wanted to see big city and skyscrapers and tall buildings….But like, in Finland, there are trees everywhere and lakes everywhere. You can go take a walk at the lake spontaneously. Here you can’t! There are too many people, and you have to travel far to get in touch with nature.”

Hannah (20)
Southern Baptist background, first time abroad, was worried that Korea wouldn’t live up to expectations
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Did you know that Nashville has the only replica of the Parthenon?
School/Major: East Tennessee State University, digital media animation

Family and friends
“They were a source of encouragement….Me and my family are really close [and] I feel like I should be sharing this experience with them….I want them to understand the culture…and why I like Korea as much as I do.”

Friendliness and Hospitality
“You can’t approach someone here and start a conversation. They’re gonna be like “what the heck are you doing?” Here in Korea, it seems so much harder to get people to like you as a friend, whereas in America, you can become friends with someone even if you only have one thing in common.”

Darlene (22)
Working class Hispanic background, saved up 7 years to go to Korea, first time away from family
Hometown: Naranjito, Puerto Rico
Did you know that the favela scenes from Fast and Furious 5 was filmed in Naranjito?
School/Major: University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras, foreign languages and economics

Family and Pets
“I have a strong family bond with my parents, grandparents, and sisters….I visit my grandparents every Saturday and Sunday and stay with them until late at night. Now that I’m abroad and especially after Hurricane Maria, I can barely have one phone call with my mom once a week and with my dad and grandparents once a month. I also own 5 dogs and 4 cats, and I miss my pets very much as an animal lover.”

Starry Nights
“Back home, I was able to see hundreds of stars at night….I would sit outside and relax while watching the night sky. Sometimes, I would end up spending two hours looking at stars. Here, I can never really appreciate the night sky. The most stars I have seen here was eight stars when I was in Jongno last week.”

Photo credit to @omvrk (https://www.instagram.com/omvrk/)

Kamile (21)
Easy-going and friendly, working class background, was worried about navigating a new country and the language barrier
Hometown: Louisburg, North Carolina
Did you know that Louisburg only has 4 stoplights?
School/Major: East Carolina University, photography

My sister
“She called me last night, and I got slightly homesick. I miss interacting with her and just talking. She’s like my other half! I give her a look and she knows exactly what I’m thinking. She also has a young son and I feel like I’m missing out on him growing up.”

Food
“I don’t know if I should say this or not but I really miss Kool-Aid. I also really miss fried fish, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, and yams… I don’t know why I miss them because my mom doesn’t cook it often but…. Those foods are comforting in a way and is the kind of food associated with home.”

 

Through this article, I hope this sheds some light on the diversity behind students who study abroad. Although all of us have things that we miss from home, ultimately all of us chose to overcome our personal barriers and study abroad in a foreign country for a semester. None of us knew each other before this semester and through our friendships, we have been able to form meaningful relationships with one another.

And to students who are considering studying abroad in the future, I hope that they are able to see themselves in us and decide to study abroad (whether in Korea or not)! It has been such a meaningful and eye-opening experience for me in both seeing a different country and understanding myself a little better.

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