Hi everyone! This week, I spent some time interviewing my friend, Hannah, who studied in Korea for the fall semester of her junior year. Hannah is a St. Louis native who has lived here her entire life! She is currently a senior majoring in International and Area Studies, with a concentration in Global Cultural Studies (just like me!), and minoring in Korean. Let’s see what she has to say about her abroad experience! P.S.- she was so excited to send me all of her dessert pictures! There are SO many of them 😛
Hannah was in Korea for both the fall and the winter. Her university’s campus looked beautiful!
Nancy: What made you study abroad in the first place?
Hannah: I have been wanting to go to Korea since high school because I was into Korean culture. Some of my friends at that time introduced to me to it, and I have been interested in it ever since. Also, this is a great opportunity to practice my language skills and get some classes for my Korean minor.
Nancy: How did you apply to study abroad in Korea?
Hannah: Wash U had a great relationship with the university that I went to, Yonsei University. It is the only university in Korea that Wash U students go to, since there is already a strong relationship between the two schools. My advisors told me to apply for it, so I filled out an application and submitted it. There was no interview, so the rest of the process was just a lot of waiting. I know that most people who go to Yonsei take some Korean classes, and that there is a great Korean Academy there for foreigners.
Nancy: Since this is not a popular Wash U program, who did you reach out for to ask for advice?
Hannah: There are many helpful study abroad advisors. One is specifically assigned to the East Asia region. She helped me decide on the country, city, and university to go to. I met with her whenever I needed help, but also corresponded with her via email (a lot). She was super helpful when I had a technical problem with my computer and helped me successfully submit my application before the deadline (phew!).
Nancy: What were the classes you took and some clubs that you were in?
Hannah: I took Korean Media, Korean Cinema, Korean Language and Culture, and a six-credit Korean language class taught completely in Korean. My favorite class was Korean Cinema because we watched a lot of movies that I have never seen before. For clubs, I joined an international students club called ALC that promoted cultural exchange amongst all of the abroadees there. It was a nice and welcoming community!
Nancy: What were some of the most challenging barriers while studying aboard?
Hannah: My host family did not speak much English, and my host sister did not speak any English at all! In addition, it was difficult at first to hang out with the Korean students there because they had a different culture than what I was used to. For example, some of the female students dressed up for class in fancy dresses and heels, which is not that common here at Wash U.
Nancy: What are your top three favorite things about your abroad experience?
Hannah: I liked the Korean dessert called bingsoo, which is this this shaved-ice treat with condensed milk, fruit, and other toppings. The café culture was nice because I liked studying there and eating yummy desserts. Lastly, I liked that I could get pretty much anywhere on the subway and that I could explore the city on my own!
Nancy: If you have to sum up your experience in three words what would it be?
Hannah: “Challenging, but rewarding.”
Wow! Even after just an hour-long conversation with her, I am already incredibly jealous of all of her fun (and silly) memories. It sure takes a lot of courage to apply for a program that is unique to her own field of interest, and even more to travel there to live for an entire semester.
Right now, Hannah is currently in the process of applying for jobs after graduation. She is such a driven individual, and I admire her dedication to understanding new cultures. Good luck, Hannah!
~ Nancy <3