Leaving on a jet plane

Seoul Searching


Seoul Searching Caitlin O'Hara Buy Photos

As you read this, it is safe to bet I am 30,000 feet above sea level, traveling 6,543 miles to Seoul, South Korea.

In 13.5 hours, I will land in what will be my home until mid-summer. I will miss my loved ones, my Netflix account and dairy products, but I am convinced I will gain so much more.

This semester, I hope to share my experiences and relay cultural understanding I aim to gain.

But, I will be telling these stories with photographs. After this word-filled column, you will henceforth see a photo story every week.

South Korea’s northern counterpart made global news this week with its third nuclear test in 10 years. North Korea is said to have chosen Tuesday for its explosive taunting because of South Korea’s change of leadership and President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Allies of the U.S. and China, such as Japan and Great Britain, have said they plan to take action if North Korea went ahead with further nuclear testing, but with heavy restrictions and sanctions already in place, it is unclear whether they or the United Nations will follow up.

I don’t pretend to know the cultural nuances Korea has faced in its negotiations to reunite. I hope to gain some insight during my stay. But, I have to admit that the tension in East Asia has my pre-departure stomach in more of a knot than usual. As a kid who grew up in the midwestern U.S., I’ve always wanted to explore the world beyond my landlocked state. Now, my foot is toeing the line of my comfort zone, and, naturally, I’m anxious. This will be good for me.

I’m excited to be uncomfortable. I will learn the language and navigate a city with the second largest population in the world. And, whether tensions in the region rise or the Korean governments peacefully work through this transitional period, I will be there to capture it.


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