“There isn't always a certain type of equation that fits.”
Paula chose the ISEP program to Seoul because she wanted an immersion experience in South Korea. She was also interested in learning about the South Korean educational system, which she thought had both structured and flexible aspects. She saw that students could be as creative as they want in order to succeed in class. Group discussion was also emphasized in the classroom, which Paula said reflected the Korean culture. She thought that discussion was very appropriate to her study of Sociology, where there isn’t always “a certain type of equation that fits.”
Paula took a Social Theory course in South Korea that helped her understand how culture affects the way subjects are taught. In comparing this course to the ones she has taken at the University of Minnesota, Paula realized that the way the course was taught in Korea was based on a different way of seeing the world. She thought that the only way to gain that perspective was to go abroad and see it for herself.
Paula’s perspective on career options also changed while she was abroad. She found that she had the opportunity to network about jobs and internships while she was in South Korea. She now thinks that she has many more options, including going back to South Korea to work.
Paula emphasized the importance of finding ways to integrate into the host culture while studying abroad. She joined a traditional mask dance club in Seoul, and enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with Korean students. She said they were more than excited to have her participate, and it allowed her to experience the culture and language in a different way. Paula said that it’s especially important to find ways to meet native students when you are living in a dorm with other international students. She said, “It’s so important to make that effort, even if it can be annoying or it can be uncomfortable for you to reach out first, but it’s important if you want to get that cultural perspective.”
Check out programs available in South Korea.