A Semester Abroad: Titans Recount Their Korean Experience
Ever dreamt of experiencing South Korea apart from binge-watching a K-drama series? In this interview, first Enderun Global Scholars Alex Sato, Jasmine Bondoc and Charm Gualberto recount the hidden gems of studying abroad for a whole semester and how the Korean experience greatly differs from a simple visit.
Just last year, the Semester Abroad Program was developed by Enderun Colleges’ Student Services Department to provide Titans with an opportunity to experience a new way of learning by immersing in a foreign culture, meeting individuals from all over the world, learning from international professors, and seeing a new view on various topics.
New Culture, New Challenges
Amazing was the one word Alex used to describe 5 months of mixed challenges and cherished moments at SangMyung University. “There were many firsts. As expected, my journey did not start smooth. I have to admit, every day spent in Korea was memorable. Even those days when I would travel alone and get lost…do grocery alone and carry two big boxes all the way to my dormitory…Despite all those, I told myself this is just temporary and kakayanin ko kahit anong mangyari.”
For Jasmine Bondoc, the unlikely highlight of the semester was when her own body faced difficulty. “Because of the experiences, we became very independent, and we met a lot of friends. Whenever I get sick, I depend on my mom and ask her what I should do. It struck me because I had to tend for my own, and then my friend also adjusted for me.”
For Charm Gualberto, her stay in South Korea was nothing short of extraordinary. “The highlight for me was trying the different cuisines in Korea. Before, I didn’t even want to work and live abroad because it’s hard, but after the whole experience, I think the food talaga yung turning point. Besides that, we learned another culture at a whole different level because living in Korea is something really different than living in the Philippines.”
Their adviser, Ms. Jackie Faust, also shared how she saw them grow. “There were a lot of adjustments that had to be made. Almost everyday I was hearing from them about their challenges, the differences and struggles. After the first month, I would only hear from them if I asked! They started to understand the processes of their host university and they felt comfortable. That moment when I realized I haven’t heard from them is actually one of excitement because I know that they are not just learning subjects they are really gaining an experience.”
New Campuses, New Connections
While Alex was studying at SangMyung, Jasmine and Charm were hosted by Namseoul University at the south of Seoul. In her report, Charm wrote, “The school itself is incredible! Teachers at Namseoul University are very kind and accommodating. We were even picked up at the airport. The following day, we met a Filipino professor! She brought us to Songtan (4 stations away from our school via subway), [where] we bought stuff we needed for our dorm and ate as well!”
Her piece of advice for interested students? “Check the subjects offered! It’s super important to know what you’re getting into. I highly recommend you to join the field trips! You’ll get to socialize with other nationalities and experience Korea at its best! Living in a different country all by your self will challenge you in every aspect. You’ll get to see the value of your parents and why being independent is so important. It has inspired me to finish my studies soon and get out and explore because life has so much more to offer.”
“I thought that communication will be the problem since I’m in a different country. But then [the professors] were all good at teaching. The students are all very welcoming and they’re very kind,” Jasmine agreed in her journal. “I would 100% recommend this experience for other students because you will definitely not regret this. There are a lot of things that you will learn on your own. ”
“As for my course,” Alex said in her blog, “I took subjects which introduced me to different kinds of fields and interests that are not being covered by my original course in the Philippines. One of my professors in Korea told me, ‘Visiting another country is considered to be an experience, but studying abroad is known to be life-changing. I’m glad you made your choice.’ I am glad to have made my choice as well. Lucky how I did not only get to be friends with one or two, but a number of people from different parts of the world that I’m glad to have shared some fun and crazy experiences with. They always made me feel that I was not that away from home.”
“Studying abroad has been the fulfillment of a dream,” she added. “For me, once you have the opportunity, do not hesitate, just go and grab it. Fight your fear of being far from home, being alone and getting homesick because you’ll only be there for a while. I will forever miss everything in Korea. It changed my life. You too will be glad that you made your choice.”
New Choices, New Career Paths
Going forward, Alex, Jasmine, and Charm consider their experiences as a launching pad for their future careers.
As an entrepreneurship student, Alex believes the entire exposure gave her more connections and made her more confident to be able to talk to different people and get to know the different cultures more. “I learned so much about them, and at the same time, if ever I’m going to make my own business someday, I have someone to contact for resources.”
“For me, as an Operations major,” Charm said, “Korea gave me time to find the importance of having time for myself unlike before when I used to go out [frequently]. I had a lot of realizations about myself and how I was doing before leaving. And coming back home, a lot of my friends would tell me I matured in a way that I learned to value time for myself more, and with that I think it would help me in the future to be more productive in a way that I know how to be more organized and at peace.”
Jasmine also opened up about how this related to her on a personal level. “When I went back here a lot of people told me I’ve changed in a way that I’m more confident. I know my choices stronger than before. When I went there, I think that’s the stepping stone for me to be alone and work abroad in the future for my internships and future job.”
Following the incredible experience of the first batch of Enderun Global Scholars, Ms. Jackie happily announced, “This is a program we plan to provide every year. Although students have the opportunity to have their internship abroad, working and studying abroad are two very different experiences. Enderun’s global mindset and network is now reaching in another arena and providing students with different international experiences. It is an amazing opportunity that will provide you with lifelong memories and experiences you take with you.”
For those interested in the Semester Abroad program, feel free to visit the Student Life Office at the 2nd Floor of Titans Hall.