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I left my heart in Seoul (S. Korea): Jessica Shilladay, Agriculture and Extension Education

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Posted: December 4, 2012

I would encourage all students to participate in a study abroad trip and to dismiss any hesitations that they have about traveling because the experiences that they have will last a lifetime.

My time in South Korea was spent learning about the rich, traditional culture that South Koreans enjoy every day, teaching a lesson about leadership and teamwork to students in an agricultural high school, and learning more about myself and my personal worldviews. Although I was hesitant to leave Pennsylvania for another country, I found myself sad to return. Although the purpose of the course was to work with our fellow South Korean teachers to teach a lesson to high school students, I was the one who learned something.

We toured Seoul National University (SNU) and learned about the history of the campus, as well as met with our SNU teaching counterparts. There, we began to learn about each other and develop our lessons. I had never worked with an international student before, and learning how to communicate effectively and bridge the language barrier was tough at first, but I learned quickly how to overcome this challenge. We used a lot of hand gestures, drawings, and writing to communicate with each other. It ShilladayKorea2.pngwas especially challenging to effectively communicate the point of our lesson to the high school students. We had a translator with us, but also used references to popular movies that depicted leadership and teamwork as well as famous South Korean leaders as examples of leaders. Based on the enthusiasm of the students and their willingness to participate, I would say that they understood the message.

I and nineteen others traveled to South Korea. Every student had to work together to accomplish our goals and work as a team to best represent Penn State and the Agricultural and Extension Education major.  Everywhere we traveled to, we kept each other in positive spirits and enthusiastic about our journey. I have worked in small groups before, but working with my peers brought a new meaning to teamwork. They taught me that it takes everyone involved to have a memorable experience.

Throughout the course of the study abroad experience, we had to present ourselves in a professional manner. From the time we stepped off of the airplane to the time we boarded again, each member of this experience conducted themselves in such a professional manner as to bring pride to our university, our major, and ourselves. Participating in this trip taught me to always stay positive, put my best foot forward and to conduct myself in a professional manner.

If a potential employer asked me to describe this trip, I would tell them that going to ShilladayKorea3.pngSouth Korea changed my life. At first I was hesitant because it conflicted with my summer internship, but upon return, I learned more about myself in ten days than I would have in months. Traveling to South Korea opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and taught me about the importance of professionalism, teamwork, leadership, decision-making, and effective communication. Traveling to another country made me appreciate everything that I have in the United States and encouraged me to look at the big picture to realize that there are so many other global concerns and opportunities that exist, but until we open our eyes, we do not see them. I would encourage all students to participate in a study abroad trip and to dismiss any hesitations that they have about traveling because the experiences that they have will last a lifetime.