Suffolk Students Intern in Seoul, Korea
Two Suffolk students spent the summer of 2012 in Seoul, Korea. In the mornings they studied Korean at the Korean Summer Language Institute at Yonsei University. In the afternoons they each had an internship at a Korean cable TV station. The students were funded by the Jongha Scholarship Foundation, which is operated by KCC Corporation.
The photo was taken at the ceremony when both students were presented with their scholarship checks.
This was the second year of the Seoul internship program and KCC has indicated their desire to continue this program with Suffolk.
From Dan McCarthy:
My bags were packed, and the butterflies were in my stomach. I’d traveled abroad before; however, this was the first time that I would be on my own in another country. I was undoubtedly intimidated; my only prior experience with Korean culture involved a barbeque. There were doubts, concerns and unanswered questions; as well as plenty of friends and family back home that were unafraid to share them with me. But sometimes you just need to go for it, and be amazed by what happens next.
I arrived in Seoul, South Korea on June 19th, and from there it was pretty hard to look back. I attended the Korean Language Institute at Yonsei University, while simultaneously interning at media-giant Seoul Broadcasting Systems (SBS), in the CNBC branch. With classes five days a week from 9AM-1PM and work four days a week from 2PM-7PM, I immediately learned that time was a luxury and needed to be managed as such.
The language classes were unlike any I’d taken in my life. Going from “A-B-C-D,” to “아, 어, 오, 우,” was overwhelming at first, and in many ways it still is. Sitting in a classroom with a majority of Koreans made it easy to stand out when stuttering through counting to ten and naming fruits and vegetables. There’s a great deal of shame that comes with being a “dunce” in Asian culture, and I understood exactly what that meant for the first time in my life. It was quite a way of getting me inspired to hit the books!
Another reason I felt the need to learn the language quickly was due to my experience at SBS-CNBC. Of the dozens of employees working in both the studio and office of the company, I could count on one hand the number of people who spoke English. However, those who could speak English, and even those who couldn’t were extremely friendly, and succeeded in making my internship a memorable one.
The highlight of my time with SBS came on the last day, when I spoke on camera about the developing Apple vs. Samsung case, and helped define some American slang-words used in the trial that would otherwise be lost in translation to Koreans. While explaining what a “knock-off” was, I used a box of cereal that was clearly a rip-off of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. It will probably go down as the strangest news broadcast I’ll ever do, but almost certainly my favorite as well!
During my time in Korea, I had the opportunity to live with over 200 students in the program. They were close to the same age as myself, but from a VAST variety of backgrounds and cultures that differed from my own.
Malaysia, Quebec, Switzerland, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, and even South Dakota were just some of the places and cultures that my classmates called their own. Retelling some of my stories to friends back home often sounded like the beginning of a bad joke; “So an American, a Dane, and a French-Korean guy walk into a bar…”
However, we did far more than just goof off. We studied together. Learned together. Traveled South Korea together. While I was one of fewer than 10 non-Korean students in the program, it was truly enlightening to realize how none of that matter to us from the very first day of the program. Their passion for the Korean culture gave birth to a passion of my own.
The trip was as historical as it was hysterical. No day I spent in Seoul was like the day before or after it. Whether I was peering over the Demilitarized Zone, practicing Taekwondo on the beautiful campus of Yonsei, standing in front of the camera at SBS-CNBC, or losing my voice at Norebang with some of the best friends I’ll ever have, the only thing I couldn’t do over those 6 weeks was wipe a smile off my face.
I’ve been back in the United States for over two months now, but the experience continues to have an effect on me. I’m looking to resume studying the Korean language, however outside of the classroom since Suffolk doesn’t currently teach Korean. My goal is to return to South Korea in 2018 as a media member for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and I figure my best bet to make that happen is with a firm grasp of Hangeul. Plus, I’d like to be able to say “this round’s on me,” to my friends in the program, using the language that brought us all together.
If you’re looking to travel; if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a culture far from your own; if you’re looking to build friendships that transcend race or nation; if you’re looking to fully take advantage of the opportunities Suffolk University has to offer, then get involved in this program. You’ll be glad you did.