Michael Modon, a Corporate Financial Management and Economics major, spent an action-packed Spring Break in Seoul, South Korea as part of the CIEE South Korea Scholarship Program. Michael was one of 75 students from American universities selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to South Korea. The program is sponsored by the Korea Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes global awareness of Korean culture and lifestyle.
For nine days Michael and the other participants had the opportunity to observe many different aspects of Korean life. The group visited the Demilitarized Zone via the border town of Panmunjom. They also went on a two-day excursion to a rural part of the country, where they learned to play the jun-glu, a Korean drum, and do a traditional masked dance. They visited a Buddhist temple, toured two Korean folk museums, and had fun at Everland Amusement Park. “Every day was filled with various activities to help us learn more about Korea,” Michael notes.
In Downtown Seoul, the group experienced Korean nightlife and enjoyed Korean cuisine. Michael was amazed at the size of the city. “Downtown Seoul is absolutely monstrous,” he says. “Over 11 million people call the city home, and a total of 23 million make up the city and surrounding suburbs. Bright neon lights, street vendors, and large open markets are everywhere. The subway boasts 13 lines.
The American students were hosted by Yonsei University and were able to interact with Korean college students who Michael noted were very kind and hospitable.
Michael was also impressed with the impact of capitalism on South Korean society. “South Korea is no doubt a first world country,” he says. “I’m actually inclined to say that some parts of Seoul are more developed than the U.S. The standard of living is very high, and Koreans have become very similar to Americans in the sense of working very hard because success is measured in terms of money.”
In summing up his Korean experience Michael says, “Overall, I was extremely impressed with how well South Korea has advanced in the global community. When I left, I was proud to have had this experience to learn about this dynamic country’s culture and people. Seoul will always be a special place to me.”
Michael would also encourage other UA students to apply to the Scholarship Program. “I'd encourage as many students as possible to apply - it's a free trip to Asia!”