Kara Burns (pictured center of front row) is a junior majoring in Family Sciences. Earlier this summer, she participated in a two-week study abroad course in Korea and Japan, focusing on family, consumers and culture. She shares her experiences.

Kara Burns (pictured center of front row) is a junior majoring in Family Sciences. Earlier this summer, she participated in a two-week study abroad course focused on family, consumers and culture in Korea and Japan. She shares her experiences through this reflection.

This year’s study abroad trip, I went to South Korea and Japan for two weeks. It was a 13-hour plane trip to get to Japan, and then another hour on a bullet train from the airport to the city where we were staying. As we are passing through a lot of neighborhoods on the bullet train, we found Kyoto, Japan to be extremely beautiful and organized. It has always been a dream for me to go to Japan ever since I was in middle school, a dream that I thought would never happen. We traveled to several places in Japan, visiting nursing homes, Kimono shows, Kyoto's Imperial Palace and more! We also traveled to Kyoto University which I found very impressive. I thought the University of Kentucky was pretty big, but Kyoto University was huge! Our last day in Kyoto, we attended a traditional cooking class. I found that most interesting because we were shown how a lot of foods that we had been eating were made and even got to take home the recipes. Everyone was extremely nice in Japan and showed a lot of respect towards us. I did find myself struggling to adjust to Japan's taste in food. Although it was good, it was just hard to get used to when I'm used to American food.

Then it was time for us to travel to Seoul in South Korea. We had to get back on the bullet train and plane for about 4 hours. Something I found very interesting about South Korea was that it was a lot more Americanized. In the hotel we stayed at in Japan, the breakfast was full of things that we would consider lunch like salmon, rice and soups. In South Korea, their breakfast had tater tots, bacon, and scrambled eggs. We spent our time in Seoul going to elementary schools, learning about Korean consumerism and culture, exploring Samsung D'light and we even went to the demilitarized zone. Our last day in South Korea was spent learning about Korean pop culture, by going to rehearsals for K-pop groups. We got to see very close up how everything works - the cameras, the fog machines, and how they get live TV ready. It was so engaging that I barely even wanted to blink! After the rehearsals, we got to go to a store that was dedicated to selling K-pop merchandise. I found it fun to go to because I never been in a store that is dedicated to a specific music franchise, and yes, there were a lot of fangirls the store.

If I had to choose my favorite place during study abroad, it would have to be Samsung D'light, in Seoul, South Korea. I have been around Samsung for years, and I finally got the opportunity to see everything Samsung. From the time we walked in, we were given a bracelet that would remember us, our picture, and proceed to do activities around the store to try to figure out your personality. It was very interesting. I got to see all the newest technology that is coming out, as well as household technology that will make life easier. The only Samsung D’light store is in South Korea. If I didn’t study abroad, I would have never seen it.

The study abroad trip was very eye opening and I will take some aspects that I've learned into my everyday life. I advise anyone who is looking to study abroad to take the opportunity and have fun. You won't regret it!

Author: Kara Burns
Terms: HES