Katera Perry

MAJOR: Psychology
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea
EMAIL: katera.perry@sjsu.edu

BIO: I am a 4th-year psychology major looking to get a justice studies minor. I am also a first-generation college student. I am the type of person who loves to help others and go after my goals in life.The reason I chose to study abroad was because I wanted to to turn my dreams into reality. I wanted to travel so I could experience the world through different lenses and become more educated about the various cultures worldwide. When you step out of your comfort zone and embrace different experiences you open up a lot of new things about yourself. Studying abroad not only fulfilled a childhood dream but it tested my comfort zone. Before studying abroad I had never been out of the country, let alone by myself. I was able to prove to myself I could do whatever I set my mind to and have a good time doing it. All it takes is some support and trust!

GOALS: I kept myself open to any experience Korea had in store for me while also planning goals to achieve. My most important goal while studying abroad was expanding my knowledge of cultural awareness beyond my American experience. As a psychology major, I find it extremely important to be open-minded when it comes to helping those who are from a different culture than mine, so I took classes like Understanding Asian Culture and Cultural Psychology. I took these classes so I could develop a better understanding of the differences between Asian and Western societies whether it was through their education system, word origins, traditions, etc. Another goal of mine was to look into job opportunities in psychology abroad. While abroad I got connected with a church and learned of their therapy clinic for foreigners, and I was also able to look into other therapy clinics for foreigners in Korea. I have been interested in finding jobs outside of the US so it was a relief when I found these opportunities. With that being said I reached my goals and even found new ones along the way like narrowing down what career path I want to take. For example, I decided I wanted to help other foreigners who are stepping out of their home countries and into unfamiliar territory. I experienced various emotions while abroad whether they were good or bad, and I want to help others through these experiences. Thus, my experience abroad widened my perspectives on my goals and gave me new motivations in my education and career.

PERSONAL GROWTH: The biggest impact studying abroad had on me was growth in my self-assurance in my interactions with others and with my decisions. As stated before, I overcame my limits like fear of getting lost, being alone in a foreign country, and making the wrong decisions. However, by making new connections and everlasting experiences I actively saw myself becoming a better person, proved to myself that I could overcome my limits, and go on life-changing journeys. I also grew in how I managed my free time, which in the long run is extremely important for career building and self-growth. For example, because I learned how to manage my time I was able to focus on self-care more like journaling and getting connected to my religious side again. When reflecting on my time abroad I have seen how much my habits have changed and how I fill my day with more purposeful activity, which is the best growth seen in myself.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad? The education system in Korea is not too different from studying in the US, but some things that stood out to me were that their education system is hugely based on tests rather than homework and the emphasis on attendance. I took three courses at Sungkyunkwan University: Culture Psychology, Understanding Asian Culture, and Elementary Korean. These courses were taught in English and met twice a week for a lecture. Because there was little to no homework I had to keep myself focused on studying weekly for future exams. My strategies to stay focused were attending study groups and keeping myself accountable when I did not meet my weekly studying quota. The most important factor in success in academics in Korea is attendance especially since most lecture slides will not have all the information needed for exams. I also took one asynchronous course at SJSU which was Imagery of Psychology. As mentioned before keeping myself accountable was important especially since this class did have many writing and homework assignments due every week. Moving forward, since I was taking Understanding Asian Culture; I learned about the school system in Korea on a deeper level not just concerning their academics but also the community within the school system. It was great to be fully immersed in how students in Korea interact with one another and participate in after-school activities. Going to school abroad taught me better discipline and accountability which is something I have carried with me into my studies at SJSU.

CAREER: What skills did you learn / sharpen during your study abroad experience? While studying abroad I learned many about my capabilities and limitations. For example, while abroad I was able to better my understanding of how communication differs between the United States and South Korea. Since I had to learn a new language I was also able to see the importance of eyes, mouth, and head movement and how much of a difference it makes while communicating with those around me. While abroad I also grew in learning how to trust myself. For example, while in Korea I had to take public transportation a few times on my own and I was fearful I’d get lost. But luckily over time, I grew to trust myself and my navigation skills grew as I stayed longer and pushed past my limits. Other skills that I gained include intercultural skills, adaptability, and problem-solving. Going abroad put me through unique experiences that I am grateful to have experienced have helped me become a well-rounded person, and has offered me the skills to navigate through my future career endeavors.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world? As mentioned before I have always had a passion for travel and connecting with those around me. To be fully immersed in another country and learn about their culture was truly an impactful experience. I met various people of different backgrounds and cultures and listened to their stories. Their stories were filled with familiar experiences and new ones that I’m glad to have heard. I was only in Korea for four months but I have made lifelong friends I am grateful for. Who would have thought girls from various regions would have so much in common and yet so much more to learn from one another? I always believed the world was filled with beautiful places, people, and stories but actively living in the beauty is a whole other experience on its own. It is also important to note that not all of my experiences were good, but as I experienced some loneliness and uncertainty it was helpful to know I wasn’t alone. My new friends reminded me that it is ok to go through the bad and at the end of the day we are all human and our bad days make us stronger. My journey deepened my understanding of the interconnectedness of the world. I will carry my newfound knowledge and perspectives of the world and let it motivate my purposes in life.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? Studying abroad taught me various life lessons such as money management, time management, discipline, and self-confidence just to name a few. All these skills are the key to success when entering any professional environment and planning for one’s future. I believe without my abroad experience I would not have learned these lessons as fast as I did. When reflecting on my experience I have seen areas where I have matured and where my skills shine the most. This experience has also taught me how to take charge and navigate through various situations. I am more prepared to problem solve in the real world and take on challenges. Like I said before I have seen how the lessons abroad positively impacted my day-to-day life. I am more aware of where I want my future to go and intend to use every opportunity I have ahead of me to better my future.

TIPS: What advice would you give to future Global Spartans? My advice is clique but is true nonetheless: You only live once. This is the time to take chances and make mistakes, because what other time than now? If you are scared to go abroad that does not mean it is a sign not to go, it is a sign that you care. When you step over the hurdle of applying take that excitement and run with it. Whether you get accepted into your desired program or not; do not give up. Eventually, when you board that plane and live out your dreams you will realize all the anxiousness and uncertainty were worth it. As someone who questioned if going abroad my last year was a good decision and even contemplated dropping the program listen to me when I say have trust in the process and yourself. It is ok to be cautious and anxious but do not let it stop you from experiencing a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope whatever path you take abroad you carry the lessons learned and find growth within yourself.

Comments are closed.