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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



19 November 2015

Cadet Flight Sergeant Lochlann Allison, a former Ballymena Academy pupil, was recently selected for the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) to South Korea. He was joined on his trip by Air Cadets from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.

Lochlann explains below what a fantastic experience his trip was...

I can honestly say the opportunity of IACE is the best experience of my life. IACE opened so many exclusive insights into the country of South Korea which the average family holiday would not give you access to, or if it did would cost a fortune and be a headache to organise in such a short period of time.

From the moment I landed at Icheon Seoul to my returning flight home, the trip was non-stop and action packed. Almost every three days there would be a bus journey to a different part of the country; getting an overall perspective of everything from people to landscape and culture. Some of the activities included a Republic of Korea Air Force C-130 Hercules flight, jumping out of a five storey building on parachute training and staring into daunting North Korea at the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ).

Our group visited a temple in Daegu where we experienced an overnight templestay and for all intensive purposes became Buddhist Monks! With this radical life change came very early morning meditation, ringing the temple bell and re-enacting a Monk's "Journey to Mecca" which consisted of climbing a hill for an hour and a half in 40 degrees humid heat and kneeling down to pray every three steps.

I have so many memorable and fantastic experiences with one of the best groups of people I have ever been with. From general banter like hilarious national anthem singing competitions and accent mimicking, to spending a night with a Korean family, unwisely using all my learnt Korean in the first ten minutes and having to improvise with hand gestures and Google translate.

The people on the trip really make the experience what it is; we are all definitely friends for life. Coming from one of the more culturally diverse exchanges in IACE, my exchange was totally unlike our normal way of life in the west. From riding
a segway, to learning to use chopsticks and filming our own version of Gangnam Style on the Seoul Metro; I was very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity and I would recommend it to everyone! Hiahti!