Katie Fenton, Online Team
In summer quarter, a group of Pierce College students traveled to South Korea to study abroad. While there, the professor and students were invited to do a radio interview in Busan at the only English radio station in the city.
Q: You managed the South Korea trip, correct? What exactly does that entail?
A: Managing it was really just doing all the admin and connecting with our colleges and our partner schools overseas to make sure that the details were worked out. I went on a scouting trip with the dean of arts and humanities, which means that we went to visit Busan in March to make sure that the college was suitable and everything was in place for our incoming group of students. Interacting with students who applied and helping them get scholarships and making sure they had their passports and helping them know what they’re getting into.
Q: How much did each student pay for the trip? Are there any resources for financial aid?
A: This trip was pretty amazing and I don’t know if we’ll be able to replicate this price point again. Students paid $1,400 and that included airfare, transportation, lodging and two meals a day. That’s absolutely incredible. I also gave away $2,100 in scholarships and the Early Childhood Education program awarded one of their students. She won a scholarship that covered all of her expenses. We’re really committed to helping students make this type of thing a reality. Something to note also is that I just become an advisor for the Gilman Scholarship program, and the Gilman scholarship offers $5,000 to students studying abroad when they apply. I’m able to really help students apply for that scholarship in the best way possible. Also, future destinations that we’re planning for the study tour. We’re trying to put together a great trip. It’s going to be a two-week trip to Seoul, South Korea and Tokyo, Japan, so two weeks to visit those two countries, as well as looking into Brazil probably in the winter time but most likely in 2017. And those locations are countries that the Gilman scholarship also offers an additional $3,000 for because they’re considered more exotic language. That’s $8,000 in scholarship money per student that can be awarded when they apply. The Gilman association gives multiple scholarships for these trips.
Q: What advice would you to give to students wanting to study abroad? Where should they go for more information and how should they start the process?
A: I encourage students to come talk to me, come talk to anyone in international education department. We all know about the opportunities and love to just give helpful information. They can talk to a faculty member who went on the study tour program if they have more specific questions. (ASIDE:Tom Link, Heather Franklin, Scott Aigner were the faculty members who went on the SK study abroad trip). Come to the international education department and talk to us. We love to help students out and make something like this a reality. It’s really a passion of ours: globalizing Pierce College.
Q: You taught Art 100 in Busan, correct? Did the international education department ask you to teach the course or were you directly involved in planning it?
A: I was selected. I volunteered to be a part of the planning stages of the study tour. I had no idea when I raised my hand in a department meeting that I was going that far. I was interested in learning more about their plans. I didn’t know how far along they were with planning. We went to a few meetings and it just kind of developed into well, we’re ready. It started with volunteers first. We were people who just said they were interested and ended up being a part of that in courses that wanted offer.
Q: Describe your overall experience and your favorite aspect of the trip.
A: My favorite aspect was just being able to see them (students) make those connections. Some of the students made really big jumps in terms of their hesitation and apprehension when we started off having class here in the weeks before leaving, and then being able to see them make those connections between what we were talking about and what we were seeing. Seeing those light bulbs go off for them was really cool. Personally, a couple of my favorite things, I loved in some cases being able to see things I’ve been teaching about for years. Talking about the temples when I talk about architecture and art appreciation and being able to actually see some of those first hand. The food was hard to ignore. The food was incredible, personally. I loved the food. And I think the people were really incredible as well, the people we got to meet and speak to inside and out of the college. Many of us could talk about experiences of meeting people in the subway or on the street and just how friendly and helpful they were.
Q: Would you change anything about the trip?
A: I think the only thing that I would have changed is I would personally like to have had more time to explore and plan things on my own before inviting students. Because we’ve never been there, we tried to do as much planning as we could here, and that was a little difficult at times. Not knowing how long it would take to get to a certain location. I’d write from here, ‘oh I really want to go see the Clayarch Museum,’ and then we’d get there and find out it’s a nine hour trip on public transportation. So just being able to know a little more about the city so I can plan excursions more effectively.
Q: How do you think the course load compared to a typical class at Pierce College?
A: I’d never taken summer quarter before. In Korea it was a lot harder because they cut it down from 10 weeks to eight weeks. So we got a month of instruction in the states and a month of instruction in Korea. I was one of two students who took on all three classes. The course load was pretty heavy. It was pretty easy in Korea because I’m fairly good at keeping goodlines. Some of the other students had troubles and were pulling all nighters. Finals were killer. It was my first experience having to stay up super late finishing things due the next day. Next time they do this, they’re going to put more thought into the course load. We were kind of their experiment.
Q: How might a typical school day in Busan play out?
A: Our classes started at 9 in the morning. After English, I would walk down the hill and buy lunch somewhere. There were a few restaurants in the area that I really liked. There was a BBQ place and a chicken place. One place at the very end of the road was called The Paris Baguette and they sold a lot of baked goods and pastries. I would head back up for my art class, and after that it was pretty much a free day. I would do my homework and hang out at the college. There were very few students there. If there weren’t any people on campus, I would go down to the subway system. On the weekends I would hang out with my host family. They eventually decided they couldn’t host me and get me to school everyday, so I ended up in a dorm on campus. But they took me on the weekends which was pretty awesome. There would be dinner and after that more homework. We had a curfew of 10:30 p.m.
Q: What kind of activities did you do in your free time?
A: We got to go to two Buddhist temples through them. They actually gave us a bus and drove us out there and let us look around. We went to the beach. My host family took me out a lot. They took me to this fair with rides and stuff. They actually call rides bicycles there, which I thought was interesting. They asked me, Do you ride bicycles? I said yeah, but it turned out that was not what I thought they meant. But I still like carnival rides so it worked out well. A lot of my experiences with going out involved food. I really love exotic food so I would oftentimes go out to find something interesting to eat. I didn’t manage to try the eel, but I did have kimchi. We went to museums. The Modern History Museum focused a lot on Japanese invasion. I went out to some marketplaces. There’s this underground marketplace in between two of the subway stations and it’s called Nampo, one of the stops. I would go there very frequently because they had small vendors, family owned places just all down the side of the subway. You could buy clothes and little knick knacks. I went there a lot because I really enjoy supporting the smaller aspect of things. I went to Busan Tower, which is this viewpoint tower and you can go up and see a 360 degree view of the city. I got to go up at night so I got to see all the city lights. Me and the professors got invited to have lunch with a monk at one of the smaller Buddhist temples in the area, so we got to have bibimbap. It’s like rice and vegetables and usually meat. Very excellent stuff. He served us tea he had actually picked from the tree and dried himself. We went to the largest department store in the world. They have an ice skating rink there, my host family took me and that was a lot of fun.
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