This exchange has been the time of my life. I came away with an open mind and willing to do anything that I was asked to do, and safe to say, that’s exactly what I have done. No was not an answer for me on this trip. From the minute we arrived In the airport, we were greeted with a happy and excited face, and for all the Korean staff, this continued the whole way through, as well as the cadets and escort officers.
Each and every day was jam-packed with fun and exciting activities. I was really excited when I first got the itinerary because of all the activities that we were taking part in. From visiting the DMZ, to having the most fun possible in Everland and Caribbean Bay. The itinerary really accommodated everyone and it was a good balance of activities from cultural, to fun, to water activities. There was something for everyone and from what I could see, everyone really enjoyed themselves!
I came away not knowing what to expect and I think that was the best thing to do. I wanted everything to come as a surprise as South Korea has a completely different style of living than home in Northern Ireland. The one thing that really hit me was the heat. Literally! Coming from a country that usually has a temperature of around 14°C and no humidity, to a country with an average 36°C and very high humidity, it was hard to get used to! But hey, I’m not complaining, I got to work on my suntan...
I can’t choose a favourite between all of the activities. But the ones that stood out the most were the visit to the Navy Fleet, the DMZ Tour, and the day out to Caribbean Bay and Everland. But as I said, I thoroughly enjoyed every other activity.
I can’t thank the Korean staff enough for making this trip the best it could be. We were treated like royalty from the moment we arrived until the second we left! And nothing was a problem for them, everything was done with a smiling face. I really enjoyed teaching Cindy how to speak Northern Irish. What’s the craic?! It’s boiling! Fish and chips!!
The one thing that really got to me was that the Hard Rock Café Seoul was closed for renovation. But I understand, it isn’t your fault!
I have to say though, the water activities were amazing. Participating in the SEK National Regatta was an amazing experience. Competing against each other in various events was very fun. And the fun water activities like the water slide, banana boating and kayaking were also amazing.
I found that every cadet who participated in the exchange clicked straight away. Yes, there were language barriers etc but we did find ways to overcome these, and by the second day, we were all like one family!
I enjoyed all the activities but I also enjoyed going out at night time. Even the simple trips to the convenience store. I thought this was a great opportunity for the group to ‘mingle’ even more than what we already did. The first night when we arrived and went to the convenience store and Olympic Torch when all the group was together was amazing because everybody started talking straight away and the Korean staff really made everyone feel welcome.
I can’t thank everybody enough for making my birthday amazing. I really wasn’t expecting to come out of a lift and get attached with balloons and singing but I really did appreciate it. I thought it was a really good idea with putting the papers up on the wall and getting everyone to write a message because that is something that each person will cherish forever! And the gift exchange... I wasn’t expecting to be bombarded with so many different gifts from everyone but it helped to make the experience. But this will also be something that I’ll keep forever!
Lastly, I want to give my thanks to Alex, who made this exchange possible for not just me, but for every cadet within the United Kingdom who got selected to go on the exchange. You really did give us the experience of a lifetime!
Get your applications in as soon as possible. I can assure you, you will not regret it!
Able Cadet Bobby, 16, from Lisburn, took part in the Sea Cadets International Exchange 2018. To find out more about our International Exchange programme contact firstname.lastname@example.org.