UNC student Kacey Kropp in front of the South Korean presidential residence in Seoul.
A University of Northern Colorado undergraduate student recently returned from a 10-day study abroad trip in Korea with a new perspective on the country, its culture and its relations with North Korea and the United States.
Kacey Kropp, a sophomore in UNC's Honors program majoring in International Affairs, was one of only 40 college students in the nation selected to receive a highly sought-after scholarship for an all-expenses-paid study trip to South Korea during spring break.
The scholarship was funded by the Korea Foundation, and the selection process and trip was administered by the Council on International Educational Exchange.
The study abroad program, hosted March 16-26 by Yonsei University in Seoul, allows U.S. students with little or no previous exposure to Korean culture to better understand the country, its people and its relationship with North Korea through academic lectures, site visits and cultural excursions.
The academic lecture sessions included learning some basic "survival" phrases in Korean, a historical overview of the country, information about South Korea's relations with North Korea and the U.S., and American's perceptions of Korean society.
"We were given first-hand, professionally-informed commentary and opinion on North Korea and the threat, or lack thereof, that this communist neighbor poses," Kropp said. "There was also a sense of pity for the North Korean people themselves and a sense of annoyance and distaste for the North Korean government and its antics."
The students learned about Korean culture and history through foot and bus tours of Seoul and a traditional Korean village; visits to the National Museum of Korea, the Demilitarized Zone and one of Seoul's ancient palaces; and nighttime trips to sample the city's shopping and dining experiences.
Other students on the trip came from universities that included Yale, Columbia, Harvard, NYU, Vassar, Miami, Duke and Temple.