Achieve success through embracing new experiences
Imagine spending a transformative summer immersed in the vibrant culture of South Korea, all while being enrolled in a summer school at the prestigious Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS). For Timmy and Alexis, this dream became a reality when they embarked on an unforgettable journey with Asia Exchange’s Summer Program in Seoul. HUFS, renowned as the number one international university in Korea, set the stage for their life-changing experience in the heart of Seoul, one of the world’s most dynamic capital cities.
In this personal interview, Timmy (T), studying at the University of California, and Alexis (A), studying at Snow College in the United States, share the highlights of their summer in Seoul. Hear all about the cultural discoveries and the invaluable lessons they took home. Join us as we journey through their incredible experience and get a glimpse of what the Summer School in Korea has to offer.
What motivated you to participate in an international summer program in Seoul, South Korea?
T: For me personally, I’ve been deeply fascinated by South Korea for quite some time (due to K-Drama and K-pop). When I searched for short-term programs, Asia Exchange came up and seemed to be the simplest option. Many of my fellow students back in the States tend to stick to a rigid path and don’t necessarily consider going abroad. They believe that straying from this trajectory could mess up their academic schedule. My perspective is that I aspire to achieve success through embracing new experiences, and this encompasses immersing myself in different cultures and connecting with people. Opting for a summer program presents an excellent opportunity to accomplish just that!
A: I’ve been contemplating studying abroad for a considerable amount of time. Despite having traveled abroad quite a bit in the past, I was intrigued by the prospect of experiencing Asia, especially since I have a friend living here in South Korea. My intention was to spend my summer in a foreign country, and my university presented Asia Exchange as a viable option. Many students in the US might not feel adequately ready to venture overseas, and undoubtedly, it can be an intimidating prospect. However, with the right support and mindset, students can discover a world of incredible opportunities and experience significant personal growth during such a program.
How would you describe your overall experience so far in the Summer program in Seoul? How has IT enhanced your academic or professional goals?
A: I really do enjoy the classes I ended up selecting. They relate to my major, and while some aspects are familiar to me, the courses still offer me a completely different perspective. I derive a lot of enjoyment from this, as I’ve found wonderful people to study and spend time with, making it an amazing experience up until now.
T: As a pharmacy major, I don’t typically enroll in language and culture courses like these, but they have significantly broadened my perspective and provided me with a distinct viewpoint on a culture I’ve always held a genuine interest in. Now, I’m even contemplating a minor in Korean language and culture, aiming to become a more well-rounded student. Attending classes here during the summer school and immersing myself in this environment makes me excited to learn more—it’s pushing me beyond my comfort zone.
What aspects of South Korean culture have you found most fascinating or different from your home country?
A: Everyday culture is quite different. Everyone is constantly on the go, and Seoul has the bustling big-city vibe to it. I and a couple of other students were worried about how foreigners are perceived here, but we all experienced that Korean people are very welcoming and helpful. They won’t hesitate to assist you despite the impression that everyone is busy!
T: For this question, I can elaborate further on my own culture rather than my home country. I’m Vietnamese. I certainly observe parallels, such as the emphasis on respecting one’s elders. It’s a culture with a swift pace, yet people still watch out for each other. I deeply admire the sense of community here and the mutual respect among individuals.
What advice would you give to future students considering participating in a similar program abroad?
A: Make use of extracurricular activities during the Summer Program in Seoul; however, simultaneously ensure to have “recharge” days. There’s a limit to continuous engagement. The events and opportunities are abundant and will continue to unfold. Don’t feel compelled to participate in everything, and make sure to give yourself some downtime to recharge before hitting the road again!
T: Keep an open mind and venture beyond your comfort zone. Otherwise, you won’t make the most of this experience! It doesn’t mean you have to constantly push yourself to go out, but try tackling things that might initially feel a bit challenging to you.
What advice would you give to someone hesitant about studying abroad due to a lack of prior international experience, and how would you encourage them to take the leap?
T: Strive to embrace life to its fullest extent. As you age, it can become increasingly challenging to carve out time for travel. If your circumstances allow, seriously consider taking the chance.
A: The chance is right within reach, and it’s worth not letting it slip away. If hesitation creeps in, round up your friends and embark on this adventure as a team. Remember, time won’t come around again!
What factors influenced your decision to choose Asia Exchange for this summer Program adventure in Seoul?
T: Navigating through the offerings provided by Asia Exchange & Beyond Abroad was incredibly straightforward. Everything, from fees to timelines and deadlines, was presented transparently. Moreover, the consistently positive and prompt responses from their staff members created a sense of enthusiasm within me about embarking on this journey
A: The fact that Asia Exchange is a partner of my home university was a significant factor in my decision. The staff members at Asia Exchange have been extremely helpful and supportive, making the process remarkably easy to manage. The level of responsiveness and accessibility has been great! Being able to maintain a consistent line of communication and having a clear point of contact throughout the entire process has provided a sense of security, and it’s evident that the staff at Asia Exchange genuinely prioritize ensuring that participants have the best possible experience.
ABOUT THE interviewer:
Cindy, an Engagement Specialist at Asia Exchange, shares a deep passion for international education. Her enthusiasm for fostering cross-cultural connections led her to visit the HUFS campus, where she met with students participating in a summer program in Seoul, South Korea. As the person responsible for the US market, Cindy was eager to connect with students like Timmy and Alexis to gain valuable insights into their study abroad experiences.