As part of its ongoing series of spotlighting former scholarship recipients, The Asia Institute recently caught up with 2021 International Engineering Scholarship recipient Angela Kingsbury. Angela is rising Senior at the University of Kentucky and just concluded a semester abroad studying Engineering and Business Intelligence at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea.
Why did you choose to study in South Korea this past semester?
I was really excited when I learned of the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in South Korea and take business and engineering coursework. Prior to this past semester studying at Hanyang University, I had very little exposure to Asia. While I had studied abroad previously on a faculty-led program in Europe, I knew that studying in South Korea presented unique challenges such as the language, culture and business etiquette. My long-term goal is to work internationally, so having this opportunity to live and study in South Korea has been invaluable!
Could you describe what is what like to study in South Korea during the pandemic?
From a teaching and learning perspective, taking classes from local professors differed quite a bit. For example, their teaching style were more lecture and discussion-based with less focus on the actual textbook material. The one positive is that we were assigned to a local student through a “buddy”program, so I had the chance to learn what it’s like being a full-time student at Hanyang University and have a resource to ask questions and just practice my beginner language skills!
One of the program highlights for me was living in a dorm with 50+ other international students from around the world. It was especially gratifying to make many new friends hailing from countries across Europe, Latin America and other parts of Asia. Since each dorm unit was equipped with a kitchenette, we held regular group dinners in the dorm to celebrate our respective cultures by preparing “local” meals for the group!
What were your favorite excursions as part of the program?
I really enjoyed learning about Korean history and culture during my studies and visiting important sites that are relevant to the Korean people. We visited the National Museum of Korea, which was full of amazing artifacts. We also had a chance to visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which is the demarcation line between North Korea and South Korea. Visiting the DMZ really put into perspective the vast differences between the peoples of North and South Korea. On a lighter side, I also enjoyed traveling to the city of Busan as well as the Sokcho Beach located in Northeast corner of the country. There, we enjoyed water sports surfing and just relaxing by the ocean!
What advise would you give to students considering studying abroad in Asia?
Studying in South Korea offers an unparalleled experience to learn about the history, culture and business norms of a country that is very different from the one I grew up with in America and has been a fantastic learning experience! I would encourage other students to consider studying in Asia as the experience for many reasons, not the least of which include the food, culture and the warm people! This program has provided me with greater appreciation for how integrated the world really is and how Asia plays a vital role in the global economy. While it definitely does take some adjustments to living in South Korea if you are unfamiliar with the food and culture, my advice would be to do as much research up front and approach the experience with an open mind and an open heart!