Living Abroad in Korea…Creating my Own Journey.
By Zaria Towery.
Hello, my name is Zaria Towery, and I am a senior Sociology student here at California State University San Marcos. I spent my recent academic year studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea at Yonsei University. Since high school I found myself having an interest in Korean culture and had such a thirst for travel. Living in a foreign country for the first time was an adjustment. I had some great times with my fellow study abroad friends but found it hard to make friends with the locals at times. Being on campus at a university in Korea as a dark-skinned Black woman was not much different than being one at my PWI. I still felt the tension at times of looking different that others around me. The silent and crippling anxiety that comes with wishing and praying anti-blackness isn’t spewed throughout the classrooms. But there were those few great friends I made, who wanted to know so much about me and my story.
My day-to-day life in Korea was joyful, fun, sad, heartbreaking, or depressing depending on my emotional wellbeing at the time. As much as people want me say, I had the most extraordinary and amazing time abroad, I didn’t. But this year did change my life. The solitude that comes with moving abroad alone was incredibly rewarding and I learned so much about myself that if someone asked me “who are you?” I could actually answer it. The alone time allowed me to lean into myself without the chatter of others telling me who I should be or what I should do or how I should live. My year abroad and my experience was incredibly unique to me. Though I didn’t spend my time traveling the country like others expected me to, I accomplished something much better, I found me.