Tales From Abroad: From South Korea to the States

Giancarlo Franzese, Contributing Writer

Daomi Kim, a senior and international student here at UNCW, is an International Studies Major that spent most of her life in South Korea. From London to Singapore, Kim explored many wonderful cultures while living abroad. “In Singapore, I started to understand cultures, as my mother wanted me locked into more than one culture,” said Kim. With such an open mind, Kim’s mother did her best to introduce her children to the cultures of different countries. After starting an exchange program in the States, COVID-19 hit and made things quite difficult for Kim. Forcing her to take a semester off in 2019, Kim then headed back home to her family in South Korea. 

Daomi takes a photo from her time in New York. (Courtesy of Daomi Kim)

Kim had quite a life growing up. Staying in London at the age of five, then moving to Singapore for five years gave her lots of motivation when it comes to traveling abroad. Once arriving back in the U.S., Kim took part in a short-term, eight-day exchange study abroad program in Chile, as she wanted to continue acclimating herself to the many cultures out there. Attending a very diverse international school helped Kim expand her knowledge of other societies. 

Daomi poses on the streets of South Korea. (Courtesy of Daomi Kim)

Kim encountered some challenges and obstacles producing culture shock while arriving back in the United States. “The U.S. proves to be a huge shocker in speech delivery,” says Kim. With how conservative South Korea is compared to the U.S., Kim found herself speaking more freely and interacting more in school. “One difference is allowing me to raise my hand [in the U.S.] versus in South Korea, the teacher will be speaking the entirety of class,” Kim said.  

Daomi visits JeJu Island in South Korea. (Courtesy of Daomi Kim)

After asking Kim to describe a great day abroad, she did not hesitate to answer. “In South Korea, there is lovely weather which may force the professor to cancel class. We would all hit the streets, eat a lot of food, find spots to hang out as well having unlimited availability while going out,” said Kim, with a glow on her face. Being very close with her family, Kim also considers it to be a good day if that day is with her mother, father, grandmother, older sister and cat. “No matter what I was doing, if my family was with me, I was always having a good day. Being the youngest allowed me to receive all the attention, allowing me to do whatever I wanted to do, making everything better,” Kim states. 

Daomi visits Randy’s Donuts on Jeju Island in South Korea. (Courtesy of Daomi Kim)

Kim has learned and discovered many things during her time here in the U.S. Throughout the semester, Kim realized how diverse the United States are compared to South Korea. These involved opportunities helping Kim interact in ways she had never before.  “Being depressed from COVID’s come up, I realized success may be a different time frame as age does not matter in any way.” After asking Kim to explain, she stated, “Time is a virtue, there is no pressure, the flexibility provided allows me to find a better work-life balance in and out of UNCW. The expectations are also a lot different compared to South Korea.”

Daomi poses with friends on her birthday. (Courtesy of Daomi Kim)

Kim’s travels abroad have helped her create some helpful advice for any college student wanting to travel or study abroad. According to Kim, a student must always carry an open mind, be open to explore new things in life and be willing to broaden their horizons. “One can never be too creative if you are stuck in your bubble surrounded by the same thing day in and day out,” said Kim.