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Olivia Clark

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Anthropology and Global Studies double major with a possible minor in art
Program: YISS Program and then Yonsei (SAY) Program
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Term: Summer 2021 and starting Spring 2022


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
"I had already known that I wanted to study abroad during the summer but oddly enough the YISS program was not the one I originally applied for. Originally I had wanted to do an intensive language study in China but when COVID-19 shut down the boarders I was offered a chance to move my application to the YISS program in Korea. Considering I was already taking Korean and I was planning to study in Korea for a year anyway, this was the perfect opportunity to test the waters and acclimate myself to the new country and culture. I already had a few Korean friends from the exchange program at my old high school and I already knew some of the language. It was a perfect it. As for why I chose the YISS program, it was because Yonsei is a really good school and in a culture hot spot. Yonsei is what you could consider an Ivy League of Korea, it is apart of the SKY schools (Seoul University, Korea University, and Yonsei University), and is really accredited. I had seen it before here and there but after looking into the program a bit I knew it was the one for me. "


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am stronger than I thought. This was my first time being abroad for a long time as well as being completely on my own. I was absolutely terrified but still I continued. I knew the experience would be worth it and that I would come out stronger and more independent than I ever thought possible. Throughout this study abroad journey I became more confident and more outgoing. I made connections I never thought I would make and pulled through some impossible hard times. In the end I became someone who not only is more confident and more comfortable with herself but also someone who is more ready for the world in general.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
Staying up until 3 talking to the friends I made within my study abroad program. Those friends will be the ones who have your back for your entire abroad experience. They became my lifelong friends and some of the people I truly love the most. I cherish every memory I have with them and even now I talk to them almost every day. These are the people who will make your study abroad trip worth it.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Do not let those uncertainties make your experience. I faced multiple road blocks while abroad, including losing my credit cards, but you just have to breath and push through. Things happen, life happens, but it will not break you. There are also so many resources from both UNC and your study abroad program for just this reason. If you ever feel lost, those resources are there to help. Regardless just persevere and I promise the uncertainties will be forgotten and the good times will be all that are left.


How do you identify?
LGBTQ+, First Generation College Student, Covenant Scholars, Scholarship Recipient, Rural County Resident


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Being a first gen student is definitely hard but no one tells you how much harder it is to study abroad too. You are almost completely on your own with applications and legal documents. That is when my identity became the hardest to handle but I pushed through and now it is something I actively help other students with as well.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
It is not impossible to study abroad. Many people think that their identities will stop or burden them in the place that they want to study at but that could not be further from the truth. There will always be preconceived notations about places or cultures but I have found reality often differs. Regardless as long as you are dedicated, you can make it anywhere.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I personally did not face many issues abroad but whenever there was an issue with others or with my entire group of friends. We relied on each other and that is all you really can do. Rely on your friends and those around you. I said it before and I will say it again, they will make your study abroad experience all the more worth it.