International political economics major Eli Rush was the Salisbury University student who defied the university and stayed in South Korea during the coronavirus pandemic.
He got to South Korea on Feb. 24, went through a 14-day self-quarantine and is now participating in his original Korean classes just online.
Chonnam University, where Rush is studying, pushed the starting date of the semester back until March 16. Rush is currently three weeks into his semester. He will remain in the country until the end of June.
Rush explained how the coronavirus situation is very different compared to the current conditions in the U.S. Much of that has to do with South Korea's ability to act fast and access to public testing.
The sophomore was tested a couple days after landing in South Korea. He checked out fine.
South Korea still has some major cities on lockdown, but overall, the curve is flattening and the country is slowly opening back up.
Campus is still closed down and buildings are not open to staff or students, but the sophomore has been able to go out and explore other parts of the country.
He recently visited Soswaewon Garden, a bamboo forest, with his new friend group.
While visiting these places, Rush has met many friends and other college students who are in the same situation as him. He has met people from France, the Netherlands and Morocco.
Rush expressed that although he may feel more comfortable at home during the pandemic, he does not regret staying in the country because if he had, essentially, he would have lost his whole spring semester.
“I am still happy with my decision here,” Rush said. “I probably would have lost my scholarships.”
Being stuck in a foreign country during a global pandemic has allowed him to really learn how to adapt to different and unforeseen situations.
It's a bittersweet pill for Rush. He hasn’t been able to submerge himself into the culture as much as expected, but he has had a lot of time to reflect on himself and life.
“Being here might not have been what I imagined it to be,” Rush said. “But it is definitely probably been better than I imagined it to be.”
Rush expressed that although he hasn’t been had much time to explore the country, he has found a new found love of Korean food.
Korean BBQ has become a new staple in Rush’s life.
“I have had so much food where I don’t even know what I’m eating,” Rush said.
Living during a pandemic is novel to all of us, but for Rush, he is playing in a whole different ballgame.
This situation is something that he has come to terms with and even appreciates. He believes that staying in South Korea gave him an experience no one else will ever be able to say they have had.
“It gives me a great story to tell,” Rush said.
By ANNIE GEITNER
Feature image: Amy Wojtowicz graph/ Photo by Eli Rush