By: Aaron Siebenga, Simon Fraser University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: South Korea
Aaron Siebenga, Simon Fraser University, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship
Aaron Siebenga is a 24-year-old third-year SFU Behavioural Neuroscience student, though he has been studying various subjects at SFU and UFV since 2013. He's served as the VP-Internal for the Behavioural Neuroscience Student Society, worked in Dr. Hoffer's lab at SFU as a research assistant, and travelled to the US many times to speak at conferences.
When I first experienced what people call it, the ‘reverse culture shock’, I was quite bummed out because having lived in Vancouver for over 20 years, I thought I knew the city pretty well. I didn’t think that living in South Korea for one year would change my mindset and behaviour this much upon my return, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. For those of you experiencing reverse culture shock and struggling to “re-live” the life prior to living abroad, just know that you will eventually adapt. All you need is time; because after all, you are returning home.
Travelling is a big must-do for study abroad students. Take advantage of the fact that you are at a school surrounded by students who share the same mindset as you. You can learn about one another during your travels together, and better yet learn about a new culture together. Chances are that you are also geographically a lot closer to several different cities and countries than you were in Canada too (since Canada is so spread out)!
As a student who has never had the chance to live away from home before, I was not sure if I was ready to embark on a 10-month independent journey to a country where I could not speak the language. I have been asked frequently about the ideal length of time for an international exchange program but honestly, the answer to this question is subjective. I was really content studying abroad for two semesters. I took many things into consideration before deciding whether I should apply for one or two terms at the institution I wished to attend.