ISEP student Ciara S., a visual communication major at Berry College, studied abroad at Korea University. Here she tells a story that many study abroad students are familiar with: new food adventures.
I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea last semester and while I was there, I tried some interesting foods. I was a little apprehensive about Korean food at first, but I grew to love it. In some ways, I found Korean food to be very different from food in the United States. Most foods are spicy like kimchi (김치) and tteokbokki (똑볶이), but it makes the flavor pop that much more. Korean food seems to incorporate the same flavor and yet there are subtle differences that make each dish unique.
One of my favorite meals in Korea was samgyeopsal (삼겹살). Samgyeopsal is a popular Korean dish and consists of fatty slices of pork belly meat. It’s served with dipping sauces and is eaten by wrapping the pork belly and different sides, like kimchi, into a huge piece of lettuce and then eating everything in one bite. It was definitely a delicious meal!
One of the strangest foods I tried was Korean beef tartare or Yukhoe (육회). It was raw beef served with an egg yolk on top, sesame seeds and pear slices. The slimy and chewy texture was a bit hard to get used to, but overall, I enjoyed trying an interesting meal.
Although there were many traditional Korean dishes to try, there were also lots of foods that reminded me of home and this really helped my homesickness. I want to talk about the food that crosses borders and mixes Korean with Western style food.
I didn’t realize how popular ramen is in Korea until I arrived and saw many, if not hundreds, of ramen to choose from. Ramen is even served in small restaurants and is a popular choice for college students (not too different from the U.S.). What makes ramen different in Korea is that they add different ingredients like soft rice cakes, fish cake and my favorite: cheese.
Pizza is another popular meal among students. Just like in the U.S., college students in Korea get hungry and want to order pizza in the middle of the night. But instead of using a car, pizza is delivered on a scooter for quick delivery. The different kinds of pizzas include cheese, pepperoni and ham, but you could even order potatoes on your pizza. It sounds like an odd combination, but it’s great!
Of course I have to mention the desserts, too. Patbingsu (팥빙수) is a Korean dessert that typically features shaved ice, chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup and sweet red beans. It’s a nice dessert to share with a friend on a warm sunny day.
I didn’t expect to taste different Korean foods and also taste foods from home in a Korean style. Going to Korea was an amazing adventure for me and also for my stomach! I look forward to finding or recreating those dishes now that I’m home.
Are you ready to study abroad in Korea? Find out more about all of your options on the ISEP website.
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