Alejandro Cuevas 

For my engagement experience, I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea. I spent seven weeks studying Korean Studies at Yonsei University. I was enrolled in an extra program called CIEE, and this program helped to branch the students out to the various cultural experiences as well as get to know the local people in the city that we would be around. While at Yonsei University, I was able to take courses in the Korean language as well as a course on contemporary Korean culture. Both of these courses were beneficial to me and my future as my major at Penn State University is Asian Studies with a minor in Korean and TESOL.

This experience was important to me due to the fact that I want to live in Korea in the future. My future goal in life is to teach English in Korea. Before this experience, I was quite unsure on whether or not I was going to actually move there in the future; however, after experiencing life there for seven weeks, I am certain that my career goal is the right one for me. I even was able to help elderly citizens in Korea learn some English as I helped to teach an English class there. I have made a small difference as of now, but I cannot imagine what I could do when I live there.

My in-class learning and academic studies both at Yonsei University and at Penn State helped me greatly while I was there. The learning in the language and culture that I had previously learned on my own as well as from Penn State helped when I was on my own in the city. I knew the correct bows, customs, phrases, etc., that needed to be used with certain people that I would come into contact with. I also was able to fully understand the culture that Koreans have through my previous academic learning.
Putting this knowledge together with the actual culture that I have been studying, it helped complement the experience greatly.

I learned that my long term goal of teaching and living in Korea is still my long term goal. This experience has not only confirmed my desire, but it has actually strengthened the decision that I have made regarding this. I have lived inside my comfort zone for my entire life, and I’m ready for a change in order to do something that I really love. I learned that if I have something that I want to do and if I have a goal, I am the kind of person who will take every opportunity that I have in order to complete that goal and fulfill it.

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