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Why did you decide to study abroad?

My boyfriend at the time was in the Air Force and just got his orders to Korea for a year. I knew I wanted to study abroad but didn't have a preference of where, and it worked out that there was a brand new exchange program through the journalism school over there.

Tell us about the program you went on

It was the Global Exchange program at USC, and I lived on campus at Sogang University, which was in Seoul, South Korea. It was a prestigious school academically and the study abroad department there was awesome at setting up field trips for all us international students with Korean students.

How did you pay for your study abroad experience?

I received the Global Korea Scholarship from the Korean government. I had some personal funds to supplement that but without it my trip would have been vastly different.

What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left?

You can't predict which situations will teach you the most. Most likely, they aren't in the classroom. So say yes to every opportunity even if it's as simple as going to a new cafe for coffee or talking to a stranger on the street. 

Did you experience any discrimination abroad because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or a physical disability? If so, what did you learn from the experience?

Not any negative discrimination but it was obvious I was foreign being a blonde haired white girl in Korea. Sometimes people would talk to me just to practice their English, and they didn't know much but it was fun trying to get our points across through the language barrier. 

How has studying abroad benefited you, personally and academically?

Personally I feel like my whole outlook on life has changed because I now have a better grasp of just how vast the world is. And by that I mean there's so much I haven't seen and don't know and have yet to experience. Academically I enjoyed experiencing another country's school system because I could compare it to mine and see the good and bad in each. 

What was the most memorable moment of studying abroad?

I was part of a study at a local hospital to make a little extra money and they had to inject some dye into my body to do an EKG. After they put the needle in my arm I got faint and sweaty and while a nurse was walking me to lay down I passed out and woke up sitting on a hospital bed with 7 flustered Korean hospital workers speaking rapidly and one doctor tapping me and saying "Dawson, are you okay Dawson?" over and over. When I looked at the distance after I recovered the room was about 50 feet from where I last remember standing so I understood why there were about 5 more people in the room after I came to. The hospital was beautiful and looked more like a museum than any I'd seen in the US. 

How was the entertainment and nightlife?

There are so many subway stops and little areas in Seoul that you can go to any to party until early in the morning. There are korean bbq restaurants everywhere and nodebongs, which are karaoke bars. You use them by renting a room with a tv and some microphones and you and your friends sing to each other rather than the karaoke style I was used to in the states of singing to a whole room of people.  

In what way do you feel your experience abroad has prepared you for your future career? (Think both tangible things like language acquisition and intangible like learning to work with people who are very different from you)

I think my time abroad helped prepare me for my future career because it allowed me to see i had put myself in somewhat of a box and I shouldn't. There are unlimited options of things I can do with my degree.

Would you recommend the program you went on, if so why??

Yes I would recommend the program I used because I think it was convenient to be able to pay tuition to my university at home.

What advice do you have for students thinking about study abroad?

Do it!

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