Seo Hyun Kim ’26, a double major in psychology and Korean literature at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, is working toward a bachelor’s degree and spending her fall 2023 semester at LMU as an exchange student. Kim started her experience in L.A. during International Orientation in August where she joined other first-year and transfer international students and found her experience to be something she could share with LMU students looking to study abroad.
“International Orientation week was really fun for me, and I was able to connect with a lot of international first-year students who were experiencing things like I was in L.A. for the first-time,” said Kim. “Coming to campus during the same time as other foreign friends made me feel less alone in this experience because we learned about the campus and U.S. culture during the same time. We got the chance to share stories and talk about our experiences in our home countries before coming to L.A. Because at first when I came to L.A., there was no one I knew here and it was hard to get used to this culture, but during international orientation I was able to connect with so many helpful people from students to staff from the Office for International Students and Scholars who helped shape the first few weeks.”
It was during Kim’s orientation experience that she got the chance to extend her global exchange experience to help support a current LMU student who is going on Study Abroad next year. “We met one of our student leaders for international orientation and we were sharing that we are from Korea doing study abroad here this semester,” said Kim. “She was really interested in learning more about us because she was planning to study abroad in Korea, our home country, during the spring semester at my home university. I and other students made an appointment to meet in the Lion’s Den on campus to share about the study abroad experience and introduce what is the culture of Korea.” Kim and the other South Korean students were able to share some recommendations for her future experience, food, events, and concerts to really get to experience the culture of Korea.
“I was really glad to meet someone who wants to come to Korea to study abroad and I really wanted to provide information and support for her to have the best experience,” Kim said. “This is my first time studying abroad, and they gave so much helpful advice during my orientation experience. I want to be able to share that with the community here, especially with a student who is coming to study abroad in my home country.”
During Kim’s courses here at LMU, she’s also had the opportunity to experience new courses that she would not be able to experience in Korea such as beginning vocal and acting classes. “At home, my academic coursework doesn’t include courses in this area, and taking an acting class has been really exciting and feels special since I can’t have an experience like this at home,” said Kim. “I am really worried about studying something in another language and it makes me feel really good to achieve something like scoring well on a test because it’s in another country where I am studying abroad. It’s a special thing to do acting coursework during my time in L.A., acting class is all about the experience and communicating with other classmates which has helped me expand my language skills and connect with my classmates.”
Kim’s advice to future students participating in an exchange program is to come at the experience being brave. “Before I came to LMU, I was worried about not being experienced with the language and worried not being fluent would impact my ability to connect with foreign friends,” said Kim. “I would tell future students to be brave. Here at LMU I have found students to be very kind and wanting to help and offer advice. I met a lot of students and student leaders at orientation who helped me build my language skills through conversation. I think you need to have an open mind and accept the culture, this has helped me progress as a student and as a global citizen, something I will take into to my future career path.”
In the future, Kim looks forward to becoming a Korean language teacher and feels like this global exchange experience has really impacted what that future will look like. “I think learning another country’s culture and language is really important,” said Kim. “Language is the basic part of culture, if we know the language, we’re so much closer to knowing and understanding the culture of another country. I’m really interested in Korean culture and language and want to teach my future students all of the things I have been able to learn about culture. Korean teachers should also know a lot of other country’s cultures and this experience at LMU has helped expand my knowledge about U.S. and L.A. culture to make me a global Korean teacher in the future.”