The Pull of the U’s Asia Campus

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(Graphic by the Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Kayleigh Silverstein

 

Hallyu is the “Korean Wave,” meaning Korean popular culture (including music, cuisine and movies) is spreading all around the world. As hallyu influence grows, students can take advantage of the University of Utah’s learning abroad program and spend some time in the heart of it.

“I was first introduced to South Korea through my love for video games and e-sports. I became enthralled with the unique gaming culture of South Korea, but, as I learned more about the country, I realized that I was fascinated by much more than just that,” said Jacob Hunsaker, a senior at the U majoring in strategic communication who also studied at the U’s Asia Campus in Spring 2017. Hallyu grabbed the attention of Hunsaker.

Founded in September 2014, the UAC in South Korea has been incorporated into the Incheon Global Campus, a national project of the Korean government and Incheon Metropolitan City with a purpose of fostering a generation who will improve the future through advanced education and culture on a global platform. The Incheon Global Campus is a cohort of 10 globally renowned universities, ranked in the top 100 universities worldwide.

Incheon enables its universities to have “extended campuses,” meaning that while the physical location of the school is in South Korea, the management and assessment of education and graduation requirements are completed by the home campuses of these universities. 

With classes that provide students direct university credit from the U, the credit transfer process can be circumvented. This system enables students to be fully immersed in Korean culture while also being connected to the Salt Lake Campus throughout their time at the UAC.

“Those with more experience and knowledge were always enthusiastic about lending me a helping hand and showing me around. To this day I continue to maintain close relationships with multiple friends I met during my time at the UAC,” Hunsaker said.

The UAC campus is situated in the Incheon Metropolitan City which borders Seoul, and offers everything from museums and festivals to camping and hiking. With easy access to the potential of this developing city, students are able to leave campus and get a taste of Korea.

In just five months at the UAC, Hunsaker “was able to experience fun local spots around Incheon and Seoul, enjoy water sport activities in Gapyeong, spend time on the beaches of Jeju and so much more all while indulging in delicious foods, expanding my Korean language abilities, learning about the rich history and culture of the country and creating closer bonds with my friends.”

While students like Hunsaker were able to go beyond campus and immerse themselves in Korean culture, this experience can be quite a culture shock for some.

“Classes are offered in English, which makes it a great option to learn abroad and not be overwhelmed by the cultural difference. A lot of people just want to experience Korea,” said Camille Bagnani, Peer Advisor with the U’s Learning Abroad Office.

In addition to the opportunity for learning outside the classroom, the small class size within the UAC enabled Hunsaker to learn a lot from his professors and classmates.

“Inside the classroom, I was privileged to have incredible professors. All of my professors during my time at the UAC were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and excellent instructors. On top of this, due to the size of the student body at the UAC, all of my classes were much smaller than at the main campus. This allowed for more individual interaction between professor and student and it also facilitated a space in which all students were able to become closer with each other,” said Hunsaker.

According to Bagnani, part of the intrigue in attending UAC is that it is an organized, efficient way to study abroad, without having to pay the often high costs of normal learning abroad programs. 

“There are also a lot of monetary benefits to going there because you pay University of Utah tuition while you are in South Korea. Sometimes that even turns out to be cheaper for students who are from out of state, and also the housing is really affordable,” Bagnani said.

Bagnani proposes a reason why U students might feel compelled to pick up their Salt Lake City life and temporarily move across the globe.

“It is a way to be on track and still do college but in a culture that you are unfamiliar with to broaden your worldview. It lets you get out of your comfort zone a lot,” said Bagnani.

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@kayleighwiththechrony