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Student Spotlight

Ohbin Kwon
Singapore Fall 2012
Political Science Major
ohbink@uci.edu

"I was really interested in the small country of Singapore, and how this small country became one of the more developed and fastest growing country worldwide."

"I have come back with a more open mindset and am being more appreciative of and trying to learn about as many different cultures as I can."

"My career plans have definitely narrowed after coming back as I am now more focused on the NGO and humanitarian aid field especially towards SE Asia."

Why did you choose your particular study abroad program/location?
I barely knew anything about Singapore at first, but going to SE Asia had always been one of the top travel destinations I wanted to go to. Plus I was really interested in the small country of Singapore, and how this small country became one of the more developed and fastest growing country worldwide.
 
What types of activities were you involved in while abroad that were meaningful for your learning?
During my time abroad, I was involved in various sports clubs such as archery and the basketball club. I also took many classes regarding SE Asia, such as classes about the religion of these various SE asian countries, various types of human rights work going on around, and the politics and ethics of these countries. I also attended as many local events that were happening around campus as I could in order to have a sense of the school culture and life as well as found out about events that were happening throughout the city. Especially during the Indian and Chinese holidays, I was able to get a better sense of the culture directly by attending these events.  
 
How have you changed or what have you learned due to studying abroad?
I have come back with a more broader perspective on life and my career. I have come back with a more open mindset and am being more appreciative of and trying to learn about as many different cultures as I can. Especially for Singapore, being so multiethnic with their Malay, Chinese, and Indian culture, I have become more appreciative and aware of this. Also, personally I would say that I am less hesitant about the decisions I make, not as worried about the smaller stuff in life, and just taken a greater appreciation to everything as I went through many more difficult trials during my time abroad.
 
What are you doing now as a result of studying abroad?
 I am now serving as a mentor to the new foreign exchange students, having my own peer buddy and helping him assist with his life in America, and trying to make his transition here a bit smoother. Also, my career plans have definitely narrowed after coming back as I am now more focused on the NGO and humanitarian aid field especially towards SE Asia. I have also recently taken more classes in relation to SE Asia. I have overall grown a deeper appreciation and interest towards SE Asia, and would like to, as a career, work either in SE Asia or be involved with them in some way.  
 
What advice would you give to a student considering studying abroad?
I would say definitely go for it. It is something you will never regret. I know there may be many hesitations and fears, but that is normal and something that everyone faces. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and will significantly change your life for the better. There are plenty of peer assistants and former students that have gone abroad before that can assist you and help you deal with similar hesitations or problems they may have faced to help you overcome these problems. Also, all the other members of my EAP group that went abroad with me would agree with me in saying that going abroad was probably one of the best decisions they ever made.

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