Posted by: viaprograms | November 25, 2009

Traveling after the program

Rena Aoi (ALC 1 2009 alumna) traveled from her home in Japan to meet Korean friends soon after finishing her summer program. An excerpt of her writing is featured in the “Travel Already” section of the Stanford Programs Newsletter. This blog entry is the long version. Enjoy! Email stories of ALC alumni reunions to amylouise@viaprograms.org.

Rena Aoi and Sae Jung Kim (ALC 1 2009) reunite in Korea

Where did you travel and what dates did you travel?

I went to all over Korea–to Seoul, 水原, 安東, 海印寺, and 慶州 (Sorry, I don’t know how to say those 4 cities in English). The trip lasted five days from September 11 to 15, 2009.

Was it your first time to the country?

Yes, it was my first time in Korea!

What new food was your favorite?

Yakiniku (Korean BBQ), ishiyakibibinba (bibimbap or bibinba cooked in a stone dish), samugetan… Actually, everything was SOOOO delicious that I can’t choose which one was the best!!

What VIA Alumni did you meet & what did you do together?

I met all the Koreans from ALC1 2009. One night after, we went to Korean spa. There were many saunas, and one looked like a stone igloo. Sang Won Han (ALC1 2009) looked almost dead because of the intense heat! It was like a patience competition. Another night we went to “N Seoul Tower.” It was on the top of a mountain or big hill. From there we could see all over Seoul! The view was sooo great and really romantic. The most interesting was a place for couples to promise their everlasting love by locking a padlock. There were sOOO many! Min Koo Kim (ALC1 2009) went to remove his old one, but it had already been removed.

At the Korean sauna

Was seeing your friends in their home country different than the program?

All Korean friends did not look different at all. All of them were so sweet as they were in ALC!
What is something you appreciated or were grateful for on the trip?

Of course it was meeting again with my lovely Korean friends!! All of them were so busy with their school and so tired but everybody all the way to come to see me and take my friends and I all over. I was really surprised and so glad when I could meet Jae Ho Lee (ALC1 2009) because he didn’t finish his class until 9pm. He came even if it was so late! Sung Jin Kim (ALC1 2009) also came to see me even on the day it was his mother’s birthday and he drove for us! Sae Jung Kim and Tae-Hyun Kim (ALC1 2009) were so nice to my friends even though they were not ALC students, so I was really relieved and appreciated. And Sang Won was REALLY tired but even so, he was also really nice to my friends and helped us a lot—like when I burned my finger and he rushed to pharmacy to buy ointment.
Do you think having friends in the country made your experience different from just a tourist visit?

Yes I do. I think it would be totally different if I was just a tourist and had no friends there. All of my friends made our trip so great!


Any tips or travel advice for future alumni travelers?

Hmmm… before you go, contact your friends and exchange phone numbers.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Great thanks to all my friends in Korea!!

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