Students Transition from the Korea to Utah Campus


(Courtesy of the Utah Asia Campus)

By Nina Yu, News Writer


The University of Utah Asia Campus regularly accepts international students into the school and its programs. The school also offers its position as a study abroad option for students on the Salt Lake City campus.

Many of the Korean students who attend any of the universities offered at the Incheon Global Campus are looking for a global experience — a way to connect with their roots as well as study internationally. According to the IGC website, “Students who choose IGC as new environment to study rather than staying at their home country in USA, Europe and Asia can be called a pioneer with a real open mind. They are interested in various culture of the world and desire to cultivate their international capacity.”

Korean and international students that study at the UAC are required to spend at least a semester at the main campus in Salt Lake City, although there are students that decide to stay longer. This way, students that study at the UAC, whether they’re from Korea or another country, are presented a global learning environment supported by higher education and building networks with diverse cultural backgrounds.

Since the UAC is an extension of the University of Utah’s main campus, it can be helpful with the transition for Korean students. The school structure is very American. Classes at the university are all taught in English, and many of the professors and faculty are from the U.S. Some students spend two or three or years at UAC as a stepping stone before heading to the U.S. for the first time.

Strategic communication major Sue Seong described her feelings about spending a semester in Salt Lake City as “positive.” “That’s the main reason why I selected the UAC,” she said. “I’m a student that has spent most of my academic years in Korea. I was worried if I directly go to the U.S. it would be harder to adjust to the culture and school life. There are lots of Korean students in UAC, so transitioning to the main campus can be a great opportunity for Korean students to improve their English skills.”

The UAC is smaller than the main campus, so for many students, it’s a closer community. Like many students preparing to study abroad, UAC students express come concerns.

“I’m worried about safety issues. In Korea, gun possession is illegal, so we don’t have to worry. However, it’s legal in the U.S., so I’m a little worried for my safety,” Seong said. “I think cultural differences and loneliness are the biggest struggles for Korean students. Western culture and Asian culture are quite different in many aspects. It might be hard to mingle with American friends in the beginning.”

Even though the state of Utah is heavily white and religious, the U is a diverse university, accepting of many different kinds of students.

Transitioning to a life in another country for a couple of months can deter some people, but the International and New Student Coordinator Anna Yacovone is prepared to handle these tasks at the UAC. Based on the main questions she often receives from students, Yacovone stresses a few points. For those transitioning to the SLC campus, students will have to manage their expectations while recognizing that they will be entering a new environment. Yacovone hopes students will be active and take ownership of the experience.

The SLC campus has more students than the UAC and is bigger overall, so students may experience obstacles like making friends, navigating an unfamiliar environment or experiencing loneliness.

“One of my favorite quotes came from a friend who lives in Cuba — ‘todo lo bueno comienza con un poco de miedo’ — all good begins with a little fear. All that’s to say, it’s normal to be afraid — in fact it’s a healthy sign of self-preservation and protection. What matters though is how we deal with fear and uncertainty,” Yacovone said.

“I just finished two pre-departure orientations for our SLC-bound students,” she said. “This was my first cohort of students going to SLC, and I just want to emphatically express how proud I am of these students for getting through the hurdles and preparation. Our UAC students are bright, ambitious, and all-around amazing, and I’m so eager to see what’s in store for their future in SLC and beyond.”


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