Rikki Erielle Navos

NAME: Rikki Erielle Navos
MAJOR: Economics
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Sungkyungkwan University (SKKU)
EMAIL: rikkierielle@gmail.com

BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.

Studying abroad has been a constant goal of mine ever since I started college. I constantly glance at SJSU’s student exchange website to look at my options. One day, I saw the new program SJSU created with a university in South Korea, one of the countries I’ve dreamt of going to. I thought this was the opportunity I was looking for! I decided to apply right after!

CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?

Studying abroad allowed me to interact with people all around the world. It gave me connections to countries I’ve never even thought about visiting before! Studying in a foreign country has definitely allowed me to have better cultural awareness and improved my communication abilities with people from other backgrounds.

GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?

My main goal for studying abroad was to see more of myself by seeing more of the world. South Korea was a place outside of the bubble I’ve lived in, and being able to study in such an unfamiliar country allowed me to experience phenomenons I would never have been able to as a student in my home country. I was exposed to another country’s way of studying and its youth’s culture. It introduced me to a lot of hobbies I never knew I would enjoy and gave me memories to carry for a lifetime.

PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?

The biggest impact my study abroad experience had on my was the ability to live independently in a foreign country. This is important to me because it brings a different type of growth one would get by living independently in our own country.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?

My academic experience abroad was very different from our home university. I took three classes: Money and Banking, Economics in Global Environment, and Beginning Korean. It was very interesting seeing the process of how Korean students study and the different structures that the courses had compared to what I’ve experienced before. With these courses, I was able to be more comfortable doing group work and interacting more with other students

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

My immersion made me realize how big the world truly was. Since I’ve only been to the Philippines and the U.S. prior to Study abroad, I’ve only experienced very limited cultures.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?

Study abroad prepared me for my future by enabling me to be independent and allow me to have the ability to be happy  with my own company. I am much more comfortable to live by myself now.

TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?

I would tell a future Global Spartan to not limit themselves even though they’re in a foreign country. Put yourself out there. Make many connections and see the most out of the country you’re going to. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

Michelle Duong

NAME: Michelle Duong
MAJOR: Computer Science
PROGRAM: SJSU Exchange – Sungkyunkwan University – South Korea
EMAIL: michelleduong@yahoo.com

BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad. 

A bit about myself is that I have always been interested in languages and different cultures due to my multicultural family. I chose to study abroad because I have always been interested in the program, and my current college plans lined up to give me the perfect opportunity to apply.

CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience? 

Academically, studying abroad gave me a glimpse of how Korean universities operate, and how students learn. Apart from academics, I met people from all around the world, enhancing my knowledge of different cultures and how their mindsets may differ. Traveling abroad taught me how to be a safe traveler, as well as develop the skills to be more independent and adaptive.

 GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad? 

My goals were simple, to learn to be more independent and to put myself out there. I would say that I was pretty successful as I met many people, and learned to spend my time alone more productively. Being a commuter, I miss out on a lot of college life experiences, and I felt that study abroad brought that part to me.

 PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you? 

The biggest impact study abroad had on me was learning to be independent and be okay with being independent. Everyone has their own schedules and priorities, and sometimes, being alone and learning to enjoy that time alone is also a skill. 

 ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?

In Korea, I took a Basic Korean, Comparative Politics, Data Science, and Media UX Design. All of these classes were geared to allow me to meet my graduation requirements, but I think that there is another charm about taking all of these classes abroad. The Korean class was much more immersive and useful as it allowed us to use what we’ve learned immediately in real conversation. The politics class brought together people from all over the world, allowing us to share our opinions on different events that shaped our present day. Data science abroad consisted of many labs, which made learning practical. Media UX Design is a class that isn’t commonly offered in American universities.

 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

I have learned that people from different parts of the world have different ideas in terms of what they consider success. One may feel fulfillment in more family-oriented aspects, whereas others dream of a stable income. As always, I think the key to interacting with others, is keeping an open mind and trying to understand why they may think a way about certain topics.

 FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future? 

Studying abroad has prepared me in the way that I know there will be times when I feel lonely, displaced, or behind my peers. However, everyone goes about their life at a different pace, and I should focus on making what I want to do a priority. It has also taught me the skills of living on my own, dealing with renting things out, finances, and other things about adulting.

 TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan? 

To just do it. With studying abroad comes many challenges and worries, but if you just take it one step at a time, the experience will all be worth it in the end.

Courtney Wan

NAME: Courtney Wan
MAJOR: Chemistry
PROGRAM: South Korea, SJSU Exchange – Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)
EMAIL: courtney.wan@sjsu.edu

 

BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.

My name is Courtney Wan. My pronouns are she/her. I am a Chemistry major with a Biochemistry concentration and Bioinformatics minor. I recently graduated from SJSU during the spring 2023 semester but have plans on continuing my education at SJSU as an open university student to fulfill class prerequisites to apply for the SJSU Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program in the spring 2024 semester.

To talk about volunteer, or job experiences, I volunteered as a math mentor at my high school to help and prepare incoming freshmen for the pace of high school level classes. I was also a teaching assistant at a Buddhist summer program (Theravada Buddhist Society Of America) where I helped with lesson plans and led group student activities. I was recently a student assistant for CHEM 131A at SJSU where I helped answer questions on laboratory procedures and prepped laboratory materials for the lab.

I chose to study abroad because the opportunity to learn about another country’s culture while pursuing an education sounded amazing. Studying abroad allows me to immerse myself in a new culture, language, and lifestyle. This type of exposure while abroad allows me to appreciate and understand cultural diversity. I also saw this study abroad opportunity to help with personal growth. As living in a foreign country comes with challenges that bring me out of my comfort zone, I hoped to build up independence and problem solving skills as I work through unfamiliar situations. I also like the variety of electives as well as class selections for my major offered by exchange programs. Even though I was close to graduating and took most of the classes I needed, I thought it would be nice to experience a different teaching style and classroom environment from a different country. Lastly, I have always wanted to learn a new language, so I saw this as the perfect way to learn and quickly pick up a new language.

CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?
Reflect on how your study abroad experience and the skills, knowledge, or networking has enhanced or contributed to your life back on campus or home.

Studying abroad in South Korea left a positive impact and was life changing. I would have never gotten to experience the things I experience in South Korea anywhere else. I have gained so much cultural knowledge being fully exposed to Korean trends. Making so many new friends and connections in Korea helped to advance my Korean language skills, as I was practicing the language constantly. My experience was full of impactful and wonderful memories that will be a huge part of who I am today. The way I think about myself, the people around me, and the world was significantly changed after studying abroad. I have opened myself to a much more global perspective. Another skill I have improved during my study abroad experience is public speaking. A lot of the classes I took in South Korea are discussion based and require a presentation/project before finals week. The frequent amount of public speaking activities helped me to talk more smoothly, connecting ideas and come up with topics to contribute to conversations.

GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?
Reflect on the personal, academic, and professional goals that you had set out to achieve on your study abroad experience?

A personal goal for myself was to put myself out there and try something new every week. Even though I’m a shy person, I tried meeting new people and doing new activities. Doing this helped me do things I’ve never done before while making great memories with the people I met. An academic goal I set was to pass all of my classes with an A. Strategies I used to achieve this goal was to preview materials before class as well as to review material after classes to help retain information. These retention strategies help me balance school life while having fun outside of school. A professional goal of mine is to work as a cosmetic chemist, so in South Korea I signed up for makeup formulation classes where I made my own foundation and lipstick shades. I learned about ingredients that go into these products as well as a bit color theory.

PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?

Before my study abroad trip, I would describe my personality as shy and introverted, so the biggest impact that my study abroad experience had on me was becoming more extroverted. I learned that getting out of my comfort zone and attempting to do things either by myself or with new people opens up many hidden opportunities. I learned that just making connections by having a conversation with a stranger or a fellow student in class, helped me to get invited to events/activities or gain a helping hand when it came to exploring a new country.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?
Share what courses you chose to take abroad and the strategies you used to ensure your academic success. How has the experience impacted your academics now that you have returned to SJSU?

The courses I took abroad were Basic Korean, Understanding Asian Culture, Comparative Thoughts East and West, and Popular Culture and Media. Strategies I used to ensure my academic success was to choose courses that would be of interest to me as well as help me learn more about the country I am studying abroad in, in that sense I would be engaged and motivated to succeed in these courses.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

To immerse myself in the local culture and at my host university, I joined school clubs and participated actively in the buddy system organized by the school for exchange students. I joined the art club as well as the KITE (Koreans and International Students TalkIng in English) club. These clubs actively promoted group activities where we meet new people and learn cultural activities at the same time. Being immersed in a new culture changed my perspective on the world as being in a classroom with students from all over the world like from Europe, Asia, and other parts of America has taught me how to cooperate with a diverse group of people and understand perspectives on an international level.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?

Studying abroad has prepared me for my future in aspects of communication and socialization skills. I am more open to conversing and connecting with people. At the end of these conversations, I share my experience as well as gain knowledge from them. In addition, after studying abroad my interest to try new things has increased. I look forward to taking on new opportunities or facing new challenges.

 

TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?

Before studying abroad, it is nice to do a bit of research beforehand or reach out to someone who has studied abroad before to help prepare you for a great study abroad experience. You can learn more about what to bring or not bring, culture etiquette wise what to do and not do, recommend places to go or activities to do, etc. Also learning a bit of the language would do wonders when trying to communicate with the locals and trying to get around.