A UIC Student Abroad: Hyunjae Lee

June 13, 2019 by Maureen Porter


Underwood International College, UIC, allows students from all over the world to study and learn in a truly international and global environment. Although many students who study at UIC are already not studying in their home countries, UIC also offers numerous programs and supports for students who wish to further expand their horizons and study abroad at another university. One such student, who is a member of UIC Scribe herself, is Hyunjae Lee. Hyunjae is an international studies major, currently studying at Wellesley College, which is located in the Boston area of the United States. Wellesley College is a women’s liberal arts university, which was something Hyunjae looked for when studying abroad, since she enjoys and prefers a lower student-to-teacher ratio, which is something UIC itself takes prides in. Thus, at the beginning of January, Hyunjae began her studies abroad. To learn more about her studies and experiences abroad, this interview was conducted to fully describe how the international setting at UIC prepares its students to perform well in a foreign country.

What made you want to study abroad?

I wanted a different experience. My first two years at Yonsei University were so valuable in that I made some really great friends and I could immerse myself in academics and interesting extracurriculars - but I was curious how the college experience was outside of Yonsei and outside of Korea. My friends who went abroad for university also played a big role in encouraging me to apply for a semester abroad. They told me I would be missing out on so much otherwise!

How does it compare to UIC?

Wellesley is a liberal arts college like UIC, so they bear a very close resemblance in how the classes are structured - less students, more discussion-based, and an equally great opportunity for more active engagement. UIC and Wellesley both have their charm, and there is a lot at both schools that I have yet to experience so I wouldn’t necessarily want to compare the schools side by side. I miss my friends that I left behind at UIC. I miss using Korean with my peers outside of class! I can even say that I miss the UIC professors who led excellent classes that helped me grow as both a person and a scholar. Heck, I even miss Daewoo Annex Hall!

One thing that struck me with awe at Wellesley College was how supportive the college community is. Wellesley is like one big family where students call one another siblings (‘Wellesley sibs’ is a term they actually used!). I received so much help from my peers and also from the Korean community at Wellesley, even though I am only here for a short while. Another thing that fascinates me is how open-minded the students and faculty are to different cultures and experiences - also how vocal they are about sociopolitical issues as an entire community in general.

What is your favorite memory so far?

The favorite memory I have so far is hanging out and decompressing with my friends on a friday night after a long day of classes and assignments, cooking and eating ramen while singing to ABBA songs from the film “Mamma Mia.” I am so fortunate to have met my friends without whom I would be struggling in loneliness. They are the ones that make the U.S. feel like home.

What skills did you develop at UIC that have helped you on your study abroad?

The common curriculum courses taught at UIC helped me greatly, not only for my study abroad but also for my entire college life. Among the courses, the Research Development and Qualitative Methods class (that I took begrudgingly in my first year) helped me learn how to write good research papers by utilizing appropriate methodologies and sources. The Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar helped me formulate more compelling theses and write clearer paragraphs - a skill so useful to have at any point in college, honestly. The professors at UIC who encouraged students to contribute to class discussions, comment and freely ask questions are also to thank for creating a safe and comfortable environment so that I could rid myself of public speaking anxieties I had in the past.

Something truly special about UIC is that it prepares its students to be part of the global community, and allows them to develop the skills through its international environment, to have the courage to live in and discover new places and people. It allows its students to not just be passive learners, but to seek out new challenges and want to explore the world and this is clearly evident in Hyun Jae's experience. In fact Hyunjae has enjoyed her experience so much, and wants to learn more that she has decided to extend her exploration of Wellesley College and will rejoin UIC for her Spring 2020 semester.

The UIC Scribe was founded in 2006 as the official student-run newsmagazine of Underwood International College. It celebrates diversity of thinking, excellence in writing, and the freedom of self-expression.