Office of Study Abroad

Profile: Natalie Chin '23

Natalie Chin

Major/minor: Biochemistry

Study abroad program: Yonsei University (CIEE) (Spring 2022)

Reason you chose this program: CIEE/Yonsei enrolls students in Yonsei University, giving me many options in terms of courses. I have always wanted to travel to South Korea and the structure and support given by CIEE made the trip extremely enjoyable.

Favorite class: My favorite class was Media Communication in Korea, which focused on how the media influenced/was influenced by politics throughout Korean history.

Housing situation: CIEE students lived in dorms on the Yonsei campus. The dorm was mainly for international/exchange students and most local students lived off campus.

How you incorporated your Brandeis academic plan of study into your abroad experience? In Yonsei, you were able to enroll in biological science courses, however, due to language barriers, these options were limited.

What were some parts of your identity that you thought about while considering study abroad that other students may want to talk to you about? Like any country, being a queer woman of color raises many questions and thoughts when studying abroad. Korea and China have an interesting history due to their close proximity and the treatment of the Chinese in Korea is often held with prejudice and bias. However, since I look typical Han East-Asian, my experiences are influenced by appearing "Korean" to locals as opposed to other ethnicities.

Furthermore, women and queer communities in Korea also suffer from discrimination and prejudice as sexism and homophobia are embedded in institutions and social ideologies. However, my experiences as a semester-exchange student with the support of a program like CIEE, are vastly different than others that work and live full time in Korea. Nonetheless, it was important to me that I understood how all of these identities are perceived and treated in the country I was studying abroad. I know many of my friends in Korea also had similar thoughts and we spent many meals talking about our experiences, both good and bad.

Favorite memory: Karaoke. Late-night karaoke after a satisfying meal with friends will always be one of the highlights of my trip.

Greatest challenge: My greatest challenge was getting myself to step outside my comfort zone and actually talk to local residents using Korean. I am very shy and it is easy to fall back to using English with other exchange students, but that is not the point of studying abroad!

What you know now that you didn't know before? I know a lot more about South Korean history/politics and how that affects its society and culture.

Fact about South Korea that you think people would be surprised to learn: In America, most people walk on the right side of the road. In Korea, you will find people walk on both. This is due to conflicting influences between Japanese colonization and U.S. military occupation/impact.

“I have always wanted to travel to South Korea and the structure and support given by CIEE made the trip extremely enjoyable.”

Natalie Chin '23