Wassup #OTDHipHop fam!
Thanks for tuning in so consistently, visitor stats are really picking up these days (: As always, I bring you music & lifestyle content EVERY DAY of the week! Today, I wanted to take a step away from the "Hip Hop world," to chat with my friend, schoolmate, and former coworker Tiana-Lei Guillermo. She is an HPU student like me, but is currently studying abroad in South Korea! She has an extensive academic resume, not to mention she recently won the Miss Congeniality Award in the this year's Miss Hawai'i USA. She also runs her own lifestyle blog sweetdudette.com. Lastly, I figure since I got hella home girls that follow me on social media, I gotta start including some "feminine" content LOL ^_^. Anyways, check out our interview below, as we caught up with all the homegirl has been up to, while living and attending school in South Korea. CHEE!!!
Jehzan: What made you choose South Korea to study abroad?
Tiana: Goodness, where do I begin? I love Korean food, I love K-Pop, I love Korean dramas, and I LOVE Korean beauty products! Those are the main reasons why I chose to study abroad in South Korea. I love the culture, but to actually be here and experience it, it’s amazeballs! My mom wondered why I didn’t choose Japan instead. I’ve been to Japan a couple times for hula performances, but I didn’t want to go to a country that I’ve already been to. The whole point in studying abroad is to try new things and step out of your comfort zone, and that’s exactly what I did.
Jehzan: How long have you been there and what has been your biggest culture shock or challenge since you started living there?
Tiana: Let’s see… so far it’s been a little more than one month since I’ve been here and I’ve experienced so much! The biggest culture shock is the language. I had nooo prior experience with Korean language, and so settling here was a bit difficult for me. Keep in mind, not all Koreans know English and so it’s easy for language barriers to arise. Heck… even ordering food was hard since most of the menus are in Hanguel. That’s why I was ordering food at McDonald’s like almost every single day (or sometimes I just settle for cup ramen when I’m too lazy to order food). But since I’m taking a beginner’s Korean language class at SKKU, it’s becoming a little easier to understand.
Jehzan: What is your school like? Can you describe a typical weekday for you?
Tiana: The campus here in Seoul is beautiful (and super clean, too). In fact, SKKU also has a Natural Sciences campus in Suwon, with a massive Samsung Library. And speaking of Samsung, SKKU is actually partnered with the company, which is why they have such awesome facilities!
My only complaint about being on the Seoul campus is that the school is located on a hill (kinda like Kamehameha Schools). I literally have to trek up a mountain to get to my classes and I swear, my legs were sore after the first day of class. And another thing I forgot to mention: Stairs. So. Many. STAIRS. There are stairs EVERYWHERE in South Korea. No joke.
Jehzan: Where are most of your classmates from? Are they foreign as well or mostly American?
Tiana: Surprisingly, there aren’t that much American exchange students at SKKU (for this semester). Instead, there are more students from Europe (such as France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, etc.). Even more shocking… I’m thee only student from Hawai’i here at SKKU. I’ve met so many people from around the world and so it’s nice to make more global friends.
Jehzan: I see that you been eating and drinking and attending all kinds of music fests. Care to highlight any particular experience thus far?
Tiana: The drinking culture in South Korea is huge here, but alcohol has long since been a part of the Korean history and traditions. Almost any event that you go to, there’ll be beer or soju. Can you guess what was served at our foreign exchange student orientation? Yup… Beer and soju. You won’t find that on HPU’s campus.
Jehzan: Do you ever get bored? LOL I doubt it though right?
Tiana: That’s one good thing about South Korea: There are sooo many things to do! There’s a festival or concert almost every week! You can go shopping, you can go to a jimjilbang (Korean bathhouse), you can go to a PC bang (a gaming center), you can go to a karaoke bar, you can go to the movies, you can go to a pub, you can go to a cat café (there’s even a raccoon café), you can go hiking, you can travel to Busan, you can travel to Jeju Island… I mean, there’s A TON of stuff.
In fact, I’ve already been to SKKU’s own school festival as well as a vegan festival. This Saturday I’ll be going to the Seoul International Fireworks Festival. The following week? I’ll be going to the Seoul Fashion Festival.
And one of my best experiences so far? The street food! In big shopping districts like Myeongdong or Hongdae (to name a few), there are always street vendors lined along the streets. There’s freshly squeezed lemonade, fried cheese, cotton candy, orange chicken, ice cream, and so many more! And the plus side? It’s hella cheap.
Jehzan: What are your goals for the rest of your study abroad time in Korea?
Tiana: My main goal is to be able to watch my Korean dramas without English subtitles (and to be able to order food in Korean as well). I know I won’t be fluent in Korean since I’m only here for a semester. Learning a language takes time and practice, so hopefully I’ll be more fluent after a year or two.
Jehzan: Is blogging something you’ve always been interested in?
Tiana: I’ve never been interested in blogging until I was given the opportunity to study abroad. When studying abroad through HPU’s Exchange Program, you’re required to post entries on their blog website, which actually inspired me to create my own (and so I did).
I also realized how powerful blogging can be. There are many fashionistas out there who have turned blogging into a full-time career, and they get paid to blog about their style and their travels, and I hope one day I could be one of them :]
*All photos & video courtesy of sweetdudette.com
Independent music blog based in Honolulu, HI. Hotsted by artist/rapper Jehzan Exclusive.