Three years ago when I graduated from Western Plains High School in Ransom, Kansas, I expected college would be a remarkable chapter in my life. I am now a senior at Pittsburg State University and my preconceived notions were proven correct far beyond my wildest dreams. One particular event has impacted my life in a way I never could have imagined.
My association with international students on campus inspired me to consider the possibilities of studying abroad. No member of my immediate family has ever traveled across an ocean so I was nervous to explore my options. When I heard about the Asia Pacific program offered through the Management and Marketing Department, I spoke with the coordinator, Dr. Chong Lee, about joining the trip roster. I traveled to South Korea with 23 other students for two weeks at the end of the spring 2010 semester and had the experience of a lifetime. I chose this program due to timing, my financial capabilities and most importantly, my desire to marvel.
During my time in Korea, we were hosted by three sister universities. We were able to experience life as a student in a foreign country. At one university we toured a dorm building, the "English Only Zone," where residents were required to speak in English rather than Korean. The purpose is to prepare students who are traveling to English-speaking countries. Not only was this entertaining, but the students' dedication to academics astounded me.
Cultural differences are evident in countries all over the world. The most prominent differences I noticed in Korea involved food. We sat on the floor at nearly every meal and shared dishes of food rather than ordering individual meals. I ate octopus and duck and other popular Korean dishes using chopsticks, which is no easy task. In my opinion, Korean food is disgusting but it made my experience richer. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was bartering in the traditional markets. Vendors fill the streets competing for business and sell products ranging from raw food materials to clothes and an endless line of various trinkets.
It is quickly becoming a global world and it is important to make yourself as marketable as possible through your individual experiences. My perspectives on life, school, work and even my future have been dramatically altered from my experience in South Korea. Pittsburg State University offers a wide range of study abroad opportunities tailored to a variety of interests, and these programs offer opportunities that may not be available after college. I strongly encourage you to consider a study abroad program so you can experience a similar fortune as mine. It is important to understand anyone can travel with the right amount of determination and persistence; avoid procrastination and seize the moment. I wish you the best of luck.
Bachelor of Business Administration, December 2010