An Inside Look at Enderun’s Semester Abroad Program by Jo Balanay
August 26, 2019 — My friend Patricia and I arrived in South Korea after a 4-hour flight from Manila. In line with the partnership agreement between Hannam University and Enderun Colleges, everything we needed for the Semester Abroad Program had been prepared prior to our arrival: transportation from the airport to Daejeon, a local to accompany us, our accommodations and schedule, etc. They made sure that we felt comfortable and welcomed.
I joined the Semester Abroad Program because I wanted to experience education in a way that would also allow me to experience the real world. This would make not seeing my family for four months, breaking out of my comfort zone, and understanding a different culture very simple–or so I thought. “Adulting” on its own is hard, but doing it in a foreign country was far more complicated than I first imagined.
I was forced to face the everyday responsibilities of independent living. I paid my bills and ran errands. Both were tasks I usually had someone else do for me back in the Philippines. I had to carefully plan my expenses while making sure that I ate right, so as not to compromise my health, which wasn’t the easiest thing to do considering all the delicious food in South Korea.
I had to stay true to my beliefs and principles, especially since there was no one to keep an eye on me and remind me of my responsibilities. Moreover, I initially struggled with cultural differences and the language barrier, which forced me into several impromptu games of charades in an attempt to communicate. The fact that I started to miss my family and friends also complicated matters at times.
Yet, looking back, I have no regrets for taking a chance on this once in a lifetime experience. In fact, I’m truly grateful for the experience as it has helped me grow in many different ways.
Had I decided to forgo this opportunity, I would not have had an insight into what it’s like to balance travel and studying. I would not have experienced being a working student (I had taken a work-study position at the University). For the first time, I was able to make money for myself by having 1-on-1 Free Talking classes with Korean students.
I would not have discovered my newfound love for Korean food — especially samgyupsal, kimchi and Korean onigiri. I would not have hiked a mountain, a truly memorable experience since we hiked with other students from almost fifty different nationalities. I would not have made friends from all parts of the world.
I would not have strengthened my idea of nationalism. South Koreans’ pure love for their country, alongside their willingness to make sacrifices, transformed their nation from a third world to a first world in less than 30 years. Just a few decades ago, South Korea wasn’t viewed as the cool and must-see country that we see today. The majority of people were living in poverty, but they banded together as a nation and helped their country grow. Their story gives me hope for our country; that maybe someday, the Philippines can achieve similar heights.
Cliché as it may sound, my four months in South Korea have taught me more about life than anything else I’ve experienced in my lifetime. If given another opportunity to study abroad, I would definitely do it all over again.
If you found my story interesting, I highly encourage you to join the Semester Abroad Program. It’s definitely a life-changing experience no matter where the program takes you.
To learn more about the Semester Abroad Program of Enderun Colleges and upcoming opportunities, kindly contact:
Career Services Manager, Office of Career Services