The Study Abroad Newsletter

The Seoul of South Korea

Marilyn Yamamoto
Korea University, South Korea

My name is Marilyn Yamamoto and I am acurrent junior at UH Hilo. I am majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology and am taking classes in order to complete prerequisites for medical school. During the Spring 2017 semester, I decided to study abroad in South Korea. Throughout my experience there, I made many new friends and made a bunch of amazing memories, so it is very difcult for me to choose one specific moment. The experience in itself has made me a more independent person. I am now able to trust my own judgment much better and have learned that sometimes life happens and you just have to go with the fow.

One interesting experience for me was that I was able to visit the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone). Being able to cross over the border from South Korea into North Korea, especially during the current military issues occurring between the countries, gave me an entirely new perspective on the entire situation. I was able walk inside one of the meeting rooms where the leaders of the North and South come to talk about issues and it was so surreal to me that I was able to experience something that so many people are afraid of. We were told not to make any sudden movements that could be interpreted as a threat to the North and it was crazy how I had heard so much on the news and there I was, a foot over the concrete bar that separated the two countries.

Marilyn Yamamoto with friends

Another interesting experience for me was Korea University's’ annual festival: Ipselenti. Every year, the university invites famous K-pop stars to come and perform for the entire school. We were able to watch performances by huge Korean pop stars like the girl group Twice and soul singer Wheesung. Although I didn't know many of the songs, the crowd's energy was contagious and I couldn't help but dance along to the music and simply enjoy myself with my friends. There was a huge freworks show after and the entire school went out on the town to celebrate another wonderful festival.

I remember how much fun I had doing all of the school cheers with the hundreds of people in the crowd. We sang and dance what felt like all night long and honestly, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget.