July 15, 2022
The University of Texas at San Antonio offered the first-ever faculty-led summer study abroad in Korea at Kookmin University. Originally, this program was planned to be held in 2020, but due to Covid-19, the program had to be postponed. It was not easy to plan, coordinate, and execute this program amidst a global pandemic, but thanks to the hard work of the Department of Modern Languages, the study abroad office, and the fiscal administration office, the summer study abroad program led by Dr. Gong was a success.
On the first day, students had a level test to evaluate their prior Korean language knowledge. The level test, created and proctored by Kookmin, included a written and speaking portion. The students were assigned to one of the two-level classes and would attend classes on campus at Kookmin University from Monday to Thursday for the duration of three weeks.
While attending classes is an important aspect of studying abroad, the best part of an experience like such, is the cultural activities. The cultural activities that were included in the program were comprised of attending a tea ceremony, visiting the Hangeul Museum, calligraphy, Korean War Memorial Museum, Gyeongbok palace, playing samulnori, Lotte World, Gwangju visit, Hybe Insight, and the Kimchi Museum.
In addition to the activities set by Kookmin, Dr. Gong provided other cultural activities to allow her students to experience more Korean culture such as cafe hopping, Bukchon Hanok village, attending a baseball game, a cruise on the Han River, and personal activities that the students could choose from that enhanced their cultural diversity.
While visiting Seoul, students were able to participate in a program called ‘Making friends @ Gwangju’. After hearing about the study abroad program, the city of Gwangju wanted students of their sister city, San Antonio, to visit their culturally rich city. Students who joined UTSA’s study abroad were invited to visit Gwangju for a two-day, one-night cultural exploration that included modern art museums, traditional music concerts, visiting traditional villages, and other culturally diverse activities. The global initiatives supported the program by providing transportation, and the city of Gwangju showed its generosity by providing great meals, hotels, traditional performances, and knowledgeable guides throughout the two-day program.
Among all the activities, some of the most popular and culturally rich activities that the students participated in were the Kimchi Museum, where participants learned how to make kimchi and learned about South Korea’s national food through interactive models. It was also very inspiring for students to experience the Korean War Memorial Museum and the Reunification Tower. Students were so surprised to see how close North Korea is located when they visited the observatory that looked over the DMZ into North Korea.
One of the highlights of the study abroad program in Seoul this summer was that Kookmin University provided Korean buddies. Through this buddy program, UTSA students were able to make Korean friends and practice their Korean speaking skills. The Korean buddies, who were students who attended Kookmin during the regular school year, would join the students in their cultural activities on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
On the day of the completion ceremony, Karyme Reyna received the best student award. There were also awards given to those who showed high academic achievements during the program. Those chosen for the award were from Class A: Elizabeth Palm and Dylan Lacy and from Class B: Clarisse Truong and Alejandra Garza. Congratulations to all 21 students who participated in the program and received their certificate of completion from Kookmin University.
Check out this video of 2022 Study Abroad in Korea:
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One UTSA Circle San Antonio, TX 78249