Joseph at Changdeokgung Palace in a Hanbok, a traditional Korean dress.
While Education Studies major Mercy Joseph ’22 has lived in Australia, the Philippines, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, she’s been dreaming of living in South Korea. This spring, she made that dream a reality, studying at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
“Korea’s been an interest to me,” said Joseph. “So much so that I changed my major from Psychology to Education Studies. I wanted to be a guidance counselor, but I realized I was passionate about working with kids—not the coursework. Now, I can still be with kids, but I can teach—it’s also when I got interested in English as a Second Language as a concentration. Here, I can see if this is where I want my career to start as an ESL teacher.”
In eighth grade, Joseph moved from Baltimore, Md. to Brisbane, Australia to live with her aunt after her parents lost their jobs. There for only three months, she moved with her family to the Philippines, from which her mother hails. After two years there, her family relocated to Philadelphia.
Eager to make new friends at her Philadelphia high school, Joseph was introduced to “K-Pop” (short for Korean popular music). It wasn’t love at first beat when her friends introduced her to the group BTS, but she decided to give the genre a chance and found her own bands to listen to.
“One of my friends and I went to Myeongdong one day, which was really fun,” Joseph said. (Myeongdong underground shopping center is the K-Pop shopping district, located under the Myeongdong train station.) “It’s one of my favorite memories from my time [in Korea]. We also found this cute cafe and finished the day with karaoke.”
Upon arrival in February, Joseph and the seven additional Arcadia University students studying in Seoul this semester had to stay in a quarantine hotel just outside the airport. For two weeks, the students were confined to their individual rooms, but Joseph said she spent the time video calling and watching movies.
“It was a transition after quarantine,” said Joseph. “Not only was I adjusting to my classes, but I was also transitioning from quarantine into the dorms and everyday life. It was a little bit rough, but all the international students were going through the same thing. The community helped a lot with the transition.”
Even with the rollercoaster of emotions, Joseph encourages any student hesitating about study abroad to do it. Even with limited travel there are still many opportunities for exploration and self-discover, and Joseph said that she’s already learned so much about herself and become more independent.
“We’re in a pandemic, and you need to be safe,” said Joseph. “However, it’s definitely worth it because there’s a whole world out there for you to find yourself.”