Friendly Introductions

Courtney Gillingham

When arriving in Seoul I was nervous because I had never been out of the country before and I was travelling to the city that my mother was born. I wanted to make a good first impression on people I met because I'm representing not only my mother, but myself as an Asian American student. I had also been studying Korean at Pitt so I was nervous about speaking to people with the basic Korean I knew. My worries quickly went away when I had nothing but friendly and helpful interactions with store employees, restaurant owners, tour guides, etc. Many people in Seoul understand that foreign students travel there to study abroad, so they do their best to communicate and help you. I'll never forget when an employee in a store went the extra mile and communicated through his translation app to make sure I was getting the best service he could give me. Everyone I met in Seould was extremely helpful, especially the international exchange student team at Hanyang University.
I chose Hanyang University as my college because they are one of the top universities right now for engineering in Seoul. Everytime I emailed the international exchange team with a list of questions, they responded very fast and always had a solution for my problem. Hanyang is perhaps one of the most organized and prepared institutions I have ever been a part of. Sadly I didn't get to attend any classes or school events due to the later start of the semester (March 2nd) and the Pitt study abroad program being cancelled before this start date. However, I am incredibly impressed with how Hanyang handled the current situation. 
Prior to being called back to the states, Hanyang University had already been updating all the students of their increased safety measures taken on campus. For example, the first two weeks of class would be all electronic so that crowds could be avoided. There were emergency isolation pods on campus if a student or faculty felt they had symptoms of the virus. When the number of cases was increasing in Daegu and Busan, the university already decided to postpone the start of the semester by two weeks to further make sure that students were safe and didn't have any symptoms of the virus. I was always well informed of what was going on and am very impressed with the precaution and care that Hanyang University, as well as Seoul as a whole, took with the health of their citizens. Luckily I did get to explore campus one day and I took some pictures of the very daunting, but very beautiful mountains surrounding the campus. I also got some pictures of the buildings as you walk up the hill to campus.