Holidays can teach us many things - about a destination, about other people, and about ourselves

Ufitia Sagapolutele

Travelling abroad can teach you many things, especially travelling on your own. I was fortunate enough to travel recently to one of my dream destinations – Seoul, South Korea. Prior to this trip, I had never travelled alone and it was actually one of my fears. I decided last-minute to travel and face my fear head on.

Out of all my trips, this one definitely was the best and most reawakening I had experienced. I learned that despite travelling to a foreign country where they speak minimal English, I was able to communicate through body language, and also through a universal language – music.

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Yes, if you are wondering, I am one of those people who enjoy K-Pop and admire Korean pop culture. Although there was a huge language barrier, I was able to make new friends through our shared love for music and dance.

Ufitia Sagapolutele in Seoul. Sagapolutele is a choreographer and dancer, debuting her new work TRIPs part of the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival. Photo / Supplied
Ufitia Sagapolutele in Seoul. Sagapolutele is a choreographer and dancer, debuting her new work TRIPs part of the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival. Photo / Supplied

I learned there is a huge difference between Korean and western culture, such as hierarchy when speaking to people who are older and younger than you. I also learned how Korean people are so kind and respectful, and it made me admire them even more. Being able to conquer one of my fears by travelling abroad on my own was definitely an accomplishment and one I am truly proud of.

If you are wanting to travel to Seoul, especially by yourself, I would recommend a few things:

• Learn basic Korean such as hello (annyeong haseyo), thank you (gamsahamnida), goodbye (annyeonghi gyeseyo) and bow as a sign of courtesy when saying these things.

• In the fast-paced world we live in, apps are so convenient and make life so much easier. Download Naver Map and/or Kakao Map. I swear these two apps saved my life travelling around Seoul, and they even work offline, which was great. I would also recommend downloading a translation app for times when you need to communicate with someone who may not understand what you are saying.

• Take a portable charger. I made sure I had this on me 24/7, because there is nothing worst than being stranded somewhere and not having a phone to help you get back to where you are staying.

• Make sure to have cash and a credit or travel card on you. You never know when you may need one or the other. It's better to have both options rather than just one.

• Purchase a Tmoney card. It's basically an ATHop card but is used for more things such as bus, train, taxi and can even be used to purchase other things in various locations within Seoul. It saved me a lot of money when I used public transport, and they have the best public transport system ever.

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Ufitia Sagapolutele in Seoul. Sagapolutele is a choreographer and dancer, debuting her new work TRIPs part of the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival. Photo / Supplied
Ufitia Sagapolutele in Seoul. Sagapolutele is a choreographer and dancer, debuting her new work TRIPs part of the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival. Photo / Supplied

I had a crazy experience arriving in Seoul – delayed flight, unable to communicate, no internet, lost trying to find my homestay and spraining my ankle all on the first day. It was crazy and at that point, I was ready to jump on a plane back to Aotearoa.

But I was able to persevere and through this experience, and I learned to become more resilient and came to the realisation that I am a strong and powerful wahine.

If you have ever wanted to travel to discover more about yourself but have been too afraid to do so. Just do it and do so wholeheartedly! I'll be cheering you on.

Ufitia Sagapolutele is a choreographer and dancer, debuting her new work TRIP on June 14 at Mangere Arts Centre, as part of the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival. Tickets are available now from Eventfinda.