About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Economics & Computer Science Major
Program: Yonsei International Summer School (YISS)
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Term: Summer 2022
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
The reason why this particular program attracted me is due to my personal background as an Asian-American as well as my unwavering curiosity to explore more of the Asian continent. As someone who was raised by a Chinese father and a Japanese stepmother, I had often traveled to China and Japan several times in my life before and without fail, every time, I would be in awe of the immense cultural shock that took hold of me. It’s this shock that arises even if I felt like I had prepared and learned everything to know that there was needed to know. It was this inexplicable feeling that drew me to Seoul. Since starting college at UNC, I’ve begun to immerse myself in all sorts of different cultural experiences and people that I hadn’t had the opportunity to in the past. One of these experiences was my introduction to South Korean culture and the way it’s portrayed in the Western hemisphere. I hoped that by traveling to Seoul, I’d be able to learn and experience firsthand what it means to immerse myself in the local culture.
What did you learn about yourself?
I think I learned that I still have so much more to understand and experience in this world. Every single person in the world has their own unique life and perspectives that have been molded by their own experiences. I want to be able to continue discovering the differences that make each one of us special. At the end of the day, I believe that these differences bring us together and make us more similar and connected than we might have initially thought.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
If I had to choose only of my favorite memories, I would have to choose my first time in an arcade in Seoul. It marked the beginning of my transformative experience in South Korea. I didn't know it at the time, but by the end of the night, I would be creating some of my closest friends while in Seoul. The night started with us feasting at a local KBBQ restaurant in Sinchon, which was one of the best meals I've ever had in my life. Afterward, I remember having so much fun at the arcade and how they had a huge variety of games that were available. We ended up spending most of our time - and money - on a game similar to Dance Dance Revolution. Afterward, I had a Korean dish called bingsu for the first time and it immediately became one of my favorite desserts of all time. It definitely one of my favorite experiences in Seoul.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
When I first arrived in South Korea, I was initially reserved about myself and was questioned whether traveling internationally abroad alone was a good idea. It was really hard for me to take that first step of exploring the culture around me and making new friends. For me, I came to the recognition that I should spend my time abroad through what makes me the happiest and most fulfilled. One of the most important words of advice that I would give is that there is an amazing support structure around you in the UNC Study Abroad Office!
How do you identify?
Student of color