Busan, South Korea

My one month in Busan was an adventure i’ll never forget! While it had its ups and downs, i found myself gaining an abundance of travel experience (and way too many amazing skin products!)

In this short video that I made, it captures some key moments from my first few days in Busan.

This trip was filled with great food, teacher’s, entertainment, shopping, and company!

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Busan and I can’t wait to go back.

From eating fried chicken at my first baseball game, to exploring the many temples in the mountains, Busan will definitely be the place I know I will visit again. Even though there were a few bumps along the way regarding our dorm situation myself and the others still managed to make a memorable trip.

Written by: Marissa Shaw


SIP- Dynamic Busan

Hello readers, my trip to Busan has been one of my top travels by far. My main purpose of the SIP was to learn and emerge myself with the Korean community and people. Although learning a new language can be intimidating, I can promise you that learning how to read and write Korean will only take 1 week maximum. With the exceptional expertise from the teachers of Youngsan University they really make you understand and teach you everyday sentences to aid you to converse with the locals! Busan was naturally beautiful as the city is surrounded with mountains and the ocean. Dynamic Busan has everything to offer such as its beaches, amazing food, the shopping, outdoor and indoor activities and of course the wonderful people! If I have another opportunity to go to Busan I would do it again without hesitation!



Hello fellow Centennial Student! My SIP trip to Busan started on July 10 to August 4. There I was greeted by Youngsan’s University staff Mr.Park and my classmates from Centennial. My experience in Busan and in regards to Youngsan University has been amazing all thanks to the generosity of  Centennial College, Youngsan university and their staff. Aside from attending the exceptional program learning the  Korean language, we were thrown into the Korean culture as we explore, experience and socialized with Strangers in broken Korean. The environment, culture, and society was vastly different, but the community of people were amazingly kind, caring and thoughtful like a mother caring for her child. My experience with SIP has its ups and downs but overall it was an excellent experience and I will forever cherish it.

SIP Youngsan University 2017

I looked around the room for the last time; the room which became my sanctuary for the last four weeks. With a smile on my face, I slowly shut the door and walked through the hallway. Soon, I will be in the arms of the ones I love.

Annyeonghi gyeseyo! Thank you for the wonderful memories.


Teaching in Korea

After the 1st week of classes. Glad i got to teach them for another week. Awesome group!

We’re just passing the 2 week mark, and I wish it would slow down!! It’s been a great experience so far. We’ve gone on a few trips into downtown Daegu, and also took a short 90 minute bus ride over to Hahoe Village (pronounced Ha-hay). Some of us went to visit the amusement park, E-World, with many lights and fun rides.

Teaching has also been a blast. After the initial hurdles of figuring out what we were actually going to be doing with the students, settling in to teaching became quite simple. Make up a lesson plan for the day, and then try to stick to it. Keeping the students engaged was easier than expected. With the right activities, students felt more encouraged to speak up in English and lost that initial shyness some of us get when starting something new.

Enjoy the pictures below of some the things that went down here in Daegu, ROK.

me and my statue friend. keeping out those evil spirits!
A pan shot of Hahoe village from the adjacent cliff face.
A shot from e-world. maybe we’ll go back to check out the tower.
some teachers at hahoe village.
love is in the air. literally.

-Tyler M.

English in Korea

I was put on the 12th floor in the guest dorm room and this was the wonderful vie I had until they told me I had to move down to the 9th floor. I still get the same view... just not as high up as this was.
I was put on the 12th floor in the guest dorm room and this was the wonderful view I had until they told me I had to move down to the 9th floor. I still get the same view… just not as high up as this was.

I’m living my dream right now. When my mind is not busy being occupied with lesson plans or dinner plans, I catch some moments in the day where I think to myself “Am I really teaching students in Korea right now?”

At first, I really wasn’t expecting to teach at all, considering that the program said “mentoring”. When I was told I had a class of 7 for almost four hours straight, I sat there thinking “Oh, no. What am I going to do.” My first class was just a mess of speaking English too fast, not being able to communicate, having no material, and awkward silences. After that class, I knew I had to pull myself together and get organized.

Prior to this trip, I had already been fond of Korea with their pop culture and TV dramas, so I was able to touch base with a lot of them through common interests. It helped to find out that a lot of students share the same age as me. (Fun Fact: Did you know that Korean age is different than American age? They consider 1 year old the day you’re born.)  In the end, I was able to figure out a comfort level of teaching with my class where both parties can learn from each other.

Not all my students were there because some had already left when we decided to take a picture. :(
Not all my students were there because some had already left when we decided to take a picture. 😦

Next week, I’ll be getting a new batch of students (Kinda, not really. Just switching classes with the teacher next door.) which will definitely be another challenge after having just gotten used to and attached to this one.

Looking forward to the next couple of weeks,
Nicole L.

Little extra. People found out about my birthday, but I'm glad they did. Everyone made it an unforgettable birthday.
Little extra. People found out about my birthday, but I’m glad they did. Everyone made it an unforgettable birthday.

Intern in Seoul!

This is my first blog about my experience so far as in Intern at Kookmin University, Seoul! I decided to wait a bit before posting this because i wanted to settle in and not only have an overview of this experience but real opinions that can hopefully help people decided and get a foreigners perspective on a trip here.
First of all if you ever get the chance to apply for such an experience through Centennial college, if you get this opportunity avail it for sure!
I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit but it is usually vacation and never as long as 4 months. So coming to a completely different part of the world has been an eye opener and an unforgettable experience.
Working here has given me a great sense of who Koreans are in a professional environment and the differences i can expect from in both professional and social circles.
So getting to the main point of this blog is not to be overwhelmed by the great difference you may feel at first and instead learn from it and embrace it. you have to certainly prepare yourself for the language difference and just the social and cultural difference entirely. Have a open mind, obviously research before coming because that helps a lot.
A friend of mine was not as prepared mentally I guess as I was at the beginning about the fact that not many people here (outside of work) can communicate in English, he had a hard time settling in and would get frustrated because he could not speak Korean. This didn’t help him very much and I think he did not enjoy his first few week’s as much as he could have.
So when preparing try to memorize a few words that can help you while you are out and about, hello, thank you, how much is this, where is this, if you have a special diet then learn how to say that; so I for instance eat Halal meat, which is not as common here as it is in Toronto so I practically became a vegetarian or ate sea food, which again i was prepared for and it didn’t bother me much. So I went on to learn how to say “no meat” and little phrases like that.
Also if all else fails know that sign language is the best way to go, gestures are the universal way of communication and don’t be afraid to look funny at times for that reason because most of the people here are genuinely kind enough to help, some even go out of their way in trying to understand and help you, somehow.
The second point of this entry is for you to learn about the transportation system! If you are lucky enough to come to Seoul, Koomin University, know that it is actually really easy and convenient to travel here. Find someone who can introduce you to the transportation, look at the map and please don’t panic, if you are coming from Toronto where there are only 5 subway lines you might hyperventilate when you first see the subway map for Seoul. It looks insane and impossible to understand but you seriously do get used to it after only a week.
All stops are said in korean and English, even on the bus sometimes just ask the bus driver if its going to a certain station, after your question they almost always put on the English version if its not already on.
Download the subway app on your phone, you will have wifi at most cafes so even if you don’t have a local number you can still function. Then just enjoy your time exploring yourself and the city!

Jejudo Island, South Korea

My most recent outing in South Korea has been the best thus far to Jeju Island. Jeju Island is a volcanic island in the shape of an oval that measures 73km from west to east, and 31km from north to south. As Korea’s most southern region, the weather on Jejudo Island remains significantly warmer than the mainland even during the cold winter months. Below are the day-to-day activities done.

Thursday (17th)
For about a week I kept hearing about how great Jeju Island is. I wanted to go and view the scenery and explore! Last Friday (18th) was a  school holiday so at the last minute myself and two other amazing travellers, Paulina from Colombia and Centennial’s own Urooj decided to go. Yes, last minute! Thursday at 1AM we booked our flights and left late afternoon to Jeju Island. The flight was only 1 hour. As soon as we landed we scrambled to look for a route to get to a guest house to sleep. Once we got there we were hungry and everything was closed but the owner was very nice to help us order pizza. We then passed out as we had to wake up early the next day.
 At Gimpo International Airport, Seoul, Korea. Waiting in line to check-in.

At Gimpo International Airport, Seoul, Korea. Waiting in line to check-in.
Arrival at jeju International Airport.
Arrival at jeju International Airport.
Friday (18th)
We woke up early to get ready as we had a few things to go see. There happened to be another person there who was also touring the island himself so we asked him to join us. His name was Brandon and took a semester off from Aussie Land to tour mostly Japan and a little bit of South Korea. More people, better company, lots of fun! The first stop we made was Manjanggul Cave. Manjanggul Cave is one of the finest lava tunnels in the world, and is a designated natural monument. Manjanggul Cave has a variety of interesting structures inside including 70cm lava stalagmites and the lava tube tunnels. Only 1km of the 13,422m Manjanggul Cave is open to the tourists. The inside of the tunnel sustains at a temperature of 11~21℃. It was really nice to see.
Manjanggul Cave & Lava Tube information centre.
Manjanggul Cave & Lava Tube information centre.

After the cave we walked a short distance to Gimnyeong Maze Park. It was really beautiful and nice. There was one entrance and inside different paths as we had to find our way to the middle. In the middle there is a bridge where we climb up and ring the bell which lets people know you made it. It was hard for me to find and I’d follow school children to get there but could not find it. I did find the bridge but not the entrance to it so with help of the local school kids I climbed up. It was pretty funny! Once up the bridge you see amazing views of the garden maze, phenomenal!

The view on the bridge once you have found your way to it in the maze. Took us a while but we made it.
The view on the bridge once you have found your way to it in the maze. Took us a while but we made it.
The next place we wanted to visit took us a while as we did a bit of walking and taking local transit. This place was called Udo Island! Its a very small island with amazing views, beaches and great ice cream. We had to take a 15 min ferry to Udo Island. When we arrived we were wondering how to get around. One place caught my eye. A small rental shop had scooters and ATVs parked outside. And yes of course we chose to rent ATVs to tour the island. We were ecstatic and felt like little kids. We had them for two hours and did the entire tour including stops and taking pictures! When we returned the ATVs we got lucky catching the last ferry back to the port in Jeju.
Short Ferry Ride to Udo Island.
Short Ferry Ride to Udo Island.
Rented ATVs to get  around Udo Island. Best method of travel!
Rented ATVs to get around Udo Island. Best method of travel!
Saturday (19th)
We had a two hour bus ride early morning to the south of the island. There was lots to do and see but we saw what we thought would be worthwhile. We saw two falls, Cheonjiyeong falls and Jeonbang Falls. They were really beautiful and can get close to the waters. After visiting the two falls we went to the city of Jungmun and relaxed on the beach and enjoyed the nice views. We also had time to see an animals show. In the show they had dolphins, sea lions and monkeys! It was nice. It is amateur to the standard of tricks in Canada but still fun to watch. There was a place close by called ‘Chocolate Land’. It was a small chocolate museum. Very interesting as it had chocolates from all over the world.
Total confusion! At Cheonjiyeong Falls
Total confusion! At Cheonjiyeong Falls
Myself and Aussie mate Brandon tried posing like Captain Morgan!
Myself and Aussie mate Brandon tried posing like Captain Morgan!
Dolphin Show
Dolphin Show
My love for chocolate! Had to go check it out.
My love for chocolate! Had to go check it out.
Sunday (20th)
Today, was pretty much a relaxation day. We got tickets to do a bit of kayaking but had to wait about 3 hours for our turn. To kill time we had breakfast then relaxed at the beach and mingled with locals skipping rocks. I was pretty good at it with some people asking to play along and take pictures. Very nice. We got ready for kayaking and it was a 30 min course. After kayaking we headed back to the beach we saw the day before and relaxed for hours. I even took a dip into the ocean and went quite far. The weather was perfect and hot for this activity.
Chillin' at the beach!
Chillin’ at the beach!
Hung out with the locals.
Hung out with the locals.
4 hours at the beach! Relaxation!
4 hours at the beach! Relaxation!
Monday (21st)
We had to catch our flight back to Seoul city at noon so I did not do anything except reward myself with a chocolate pastry at Cafe Bene after check-in. And when I arrived at Seoul city, from the dorms I changed and went to the spa!
Chocolate Pastry...delightful!
Chocolate Pastry…delightful!
Overall it was an amazing trip. I was worried about taking taxis to everywhere we wanted to go but we were perfectly fine with local transit. Another great story to this was that not once did a single rain drop fall. On Sunday we hung out at the beach most of the day, it was supposed to rain but did not.  As each and every day that passes I know that I am learning something new; whether it be a word or an experience. Its really great to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.
Great experience! Worth visiting.
Will post again soon!

First days in Seoul, South Korea

After our long trip to Korea we took a break for the day and got some rest. My roommate was a student from Centennial named Phase, though he left the day after. As he showed me around campus I was quite shocked to see the infrastructure and beautiful scenery. Kookmin may be just an average university in Korea but it still is amazing. I will post photos of the campus later on, for now I will post some things I did on the first days of my exchange.

The next day, Urooj decided to get some of her Korean friends to show us around. Our first visit was Myeong-dong, Korea’s most famous market in the heart of downtown (which literally is called Myeong-dong in Korean). It’s a huge market with all kinds of stores and street vendors, though its hard to find items for men (unfortunate for me). One of the things we enjoyed the most was the cafes which always seem to be of high quality.


Soon after we decided to find something more traditional, so we visited an area famous for its folk homes. It took us a few hours of walking to see everything; there were also work shops to teach visitors how people lived years ago. I didn’t find it too amazing since it was mixed with modern homes, so it looked odd. I think we would have had a better experience if we seen a bit more and went into one of the work shops.


About a week after my arrival, I was invited by a friend to join him on a group field trip. The trip was to visit a traditional food market (seen below), Korea’s largest palace, and finally the Han river light show. These food markets can be found all over Korea and are very cheap. The food is very different than what you would find elsewhere in Seoul, though it was still delicious.


These coins are used to purchase food in the traditional market. I don’t think they’re used anywhere else; each one is about 50 cents Canadian.


This is the entrance from inside Korea’s largest palace, Gyeongbokgung. There were many visitors probably because it was still summer and the ceremony’s held were for a short period of time.



This is the main palace, inside you can find a throne. I believe here is where a ceremony would be done when a new king is given the throne; also when the king had a message for the people it would be done here. As you can see infront of the palace are some sort of stone sculptures, important individuals would sit here according to the importance they have in the palace, more important persons would sit inside the palace.


This is the view of the palace from outside the walls. Beautiful mountains surround Seoul and Korea. There are many events going on in this area since it is a famous tourist attraction. I’m sure almost every tourist comes here at least once to visit the palace.


This is a statue of King Sejong. He is the one who wrote Hangul (the Korean language). I hear it is the most scientific language and I would not be surprised if that is true. From what I have learned already of Hangul I have fell in love with how simple it is to read and write, though I can not say the same for how it is spoken as it is extremely difficult.


After a long day, the group decided to find a small restaurant in a nearby market, and then head out to the Han river to watch the light show. I did not post any pictures of it because my camera was not good enough for night photos, though maybe next time I will.


That is all for the meantime, I know I have not posted anything since my arrival but I do plan on posting more often. So far my experience in Korea has been amazing, I would recommend anybody to come here if they have the chance. There are many things to experience in Korea, and it is always hosting various events throughout the country which many tourists and locals participate in.  I plan on returning here some day to experience it a bit more and have a further understanding of its culture.

Finding Inner Peace at Bongeunsa Temple

I’ve always been fascinated with Buddhism and meditation so I’m delighted that Seoul is full of temples! So today I decided to visit Bongeunsa temple which is located right beside COEX mall. The temple is considered small but I found it to be pretty large.


Most of the buildings within the area look the same but are nonetheless breathtaking. The paintings are detailed and many ornaments decorate the temples. Statues of Buddha can be seen throughout all the buildings.



The temple is very quiet since people are praying or meditating. The atmosphere is peaceful and I felt at ease. Monks are seen walking around maintaining the temple’s cleanliness and sanctity. I didn’t get the opportunity to talk with them but they were nice enough to nod as they walked by. The one thing that struck me was how different the temple was compared to the hustle and bustle of Seoul city life. Seoul also lacks parks so I was glad to find greenery! Otherwise I really enjoyed my experience at Bongeunsa Temple. Next time I might try to do a templestay. A templestay is when you live in the shoes of a monk for one day. It is a big tourist attraction. I will be visiting other temples in the future. Thanks for reading.