Profile: Yini Rong '17
Major/minor: Mathematics and Economics
Study abroad program: CIEE/ Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
Reason you chose this program: I had always known that Seoul, Korea would be my first choice as a study abroad location. I love the Korean language and have the passion in learning it - the dedication that I have not found equivalent in my learning in other languages. My interest in the Korean language led to my curiosity in learning about Korea as a country in our world, its society and history. After talking to the CIEE representatives at the Study Abroad fair, I was fascinated by the various opportunities CIEE offers, such as volunteering, joining social clubs, and going on excursions. Since that time, I knew that CIEE was the right program from me and that Seoul was the right place to be.
Favorite class: I took a class called Applied Data Analysis in Political Science. As a class for both international and native students, it was taught in English. The professor was an expert in the field and was able to explain concepts well. I had the opportunity to work on a research project with two Korean native students and a Swedish student. It was interesting to work with people from different backgrounds and to see their perspectives.
Housing situation: I lived in international dormitory. I shared a double bedroom with a roommate. We had our own bathroom and shower room as well. In the same building, we had a food court and a convenience store that opened 24/7. The location of our dorm was great, close to public transportation and main metropolitan area. A lot of great restaurants were within a 15-minute walk.
Best memory: One of my best memories is hiking Bukhansan and getting lost with my roommate. With numerous beautiful mountains in the city, people in Seoul love hiking! Bukhansan is one of the most well-known and beautiful mountains in the city. My friend and I were working hard on our cardio while admiring the beautiful sceneries around us. When we reached the top, we did a Korean tradition - eating kimbap. The view was awesome! But we had a panic attack on our way down. We didn't have a map in the beginning. With our adventurous spirits, we were excited to explore. So we went down an unfamiliar hiking path for half an hour before realizing that we were lost. We were the only one on the hiking trail. It was rocky and steep. It was late afternoon and we needed to find our way out before sunset. While struggling to make our way back up as soon as possible, we encountered a hiker who was on his way down. Fortunately, he was able to help us and led us out of the mountain. It was a tiring but definitely thrilling and memorable day of mine in Korea.
Greatest challenge: Getting out of the English speaking bubble
What you know now that you didn't know before: Korea has a huge cosmetic industry. There are cosmetic shops closely aligned in numerous shopping areas with hundreds of brands. While all the cosmetic brands are in fierce competition against each other, consumers' high demand in cosmetic products and varieties has been keeping them in business. Just imagine Sephora is turned into a theme park, with various brands having their own best-selling products and experiences. That was how I felt when I was in Korea.
Fact about (country) that you think people would be surprised to learn: In every restaurant, no matter how many people are per table, the waiter/waitress would give you only one menu.