My Name is SUNG
My Name is SUNG
  • An Sungeun
  • 승인 2013.10.06 17:16
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Social Network,” I watched this movie right after my first year in university in 2010.  It is about Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg who creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook.  As a computer major student, I was truly inspired by the movie, and I pondered how awesome it would be to study abroad and explore the bigger world.

Before the Adventure


First of all, I had three challenges ahead me: managing a good GPA, attaining an IBT TOEFL score above 80, and passing an interview.  My real concern was, however, the interview because it was the biggest determinate among all three requirements, so I made extra effort here preparing for the interview.  I tried to clarify why I needed to go abroad as an exchange student, spending much money and time.  I also had to stand out as the one that should be nominated among other passionate and fluent students.  Many students wanted the experience, so I had to set a clear goal and reasons that sounded more incisive to interviewers.  For me, I took advantage of the fact that I am a computer major student.  As everybody knows, the United States is the world’s biggest IT country, so it made total sense for me to try to grab the opportunity to study there and prepare myself for globalization.  I delivered my goal and purpose with a clear and passionate voice, and although my GPA and IBT TOEFL scores were not that impressive, I was highly nominated.  My family and friends were very happy for me as my dream was finally coming true.  They knew how much I wanted this chance, and how much effort I had put into the application.





My Favorite City, Atlanta



I studied at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.  Most exchange students stayed on campus because the campus is located out of town, and they never get the chance to go to town as they do not own cars.  In that sense, I was really lucky to stay downtown.  Most places like convenience stores, coffee shops, and restaurants were within walking distance, and there was a subway system called MARTA, which took people almost anywhere.  The weather was fine, too.  It tends to be warm, but Atlanta does have different seasons.  What I really loved most about Atlanta were its people.  From the homeless people who talked to me on the street, to the friends I made in classes, to the random people I met, everyone was friendly, courteous, helpful and caring.  They were always interested in guessing my nationality, and they were curious about my culture and background.  Though I have been to other cities in other States, I truly think that people in Atlanta are the best.  Georgia State University (GSU) has big proportion of African-American students.  They were very entertaining and stylish, and I also liked their typical southern drawl.  Their accent sometimes sounds as if they are rapping.  It was obvious why so many famous rappers are from Atlanta.  Atlanta is also known for its high crime rate.  Unlike the downtown of Seoul, at night, Atlanta’s downtown is pretty quiet - there’s no nightlife and people are not encouraged to hang around outside after 9 p.m.  If you walk within a campus zone or walk in a group, it is pretty safe, but there are some areas where the homeless congregate.  I wouldn’t want to find myself alone there.  Despite these few issues, Atlanta is a wonderful city that deserves to be loved.


What I Learned
My junior year as a foreign exchange student in Georgia State University was adventurous, memorable, and life-changing.  Many things happened to me that year.  I met so many great people who inspired and influenced me.  I socialized with students from different countries and backgrounds.  I studied hard to achieve great academic success.  I made a few trips to nearby cities.  During Thanksgiving and winter breaks, I stayed at my cousins in New York and had a wonderful time exploring another side of the USA.
Living abroad alone, even at the age of twenty-two, was not easy.  I had to break away from my comfort zone and become more independent.  Without my parents, I had to perform household chores on my own and manage my time and money efficiently.  Thanks to Korean friends who helped me overcome any homesickness and to be stable, I was able to finish my exchange year successfully.  Since we shared similar experiences, strong connections were created in a short time.  They were caring and supportive.  I was really happy to have friends from the same home country while I was there.  I experienced and learned the importance of community solidarity.
I had one really special friend who taught me to see life more positively.  His name is Avi and he is Nepali-American.  We were classmates, but also good friends so we would get together off campus too.  Despite his family issues and so many difficulties, he was always happy and had a great smile.  Throughout all his stressful situations, instead of being discouraged, he showed me how to be happy, how to let things “go” and enjoy life.  He was such a strong person inside and always tried to move forward.  By sharing feelings and thoughts, I was able to learn about his life and culture.  I really appreciate his life philosophy teachings and his inspirational character.



Also, the exchange year helped me find what I truly want to do in life.  Myrna Talbot, my art professor, told me that I have a very good visual and musical sense, and she believed that with my background in Multimedia Science I could excel in art as well as computers.  She hoped I would enter a career where I benefited from both areas.  While at Georgia State University, I honed my skills of creating graphics and making videos by working on various projects in class.  I created a stop motion video using the famous Korean song Gangnam style, which received very positive responses from my professor and classmates.  My practical experience as an exchange student gave me valuable exposure to the motion graphics field.
I am lucky to have had the chance to broaden my horizon and mingle with students from different backgrounds.  From home nation friends, I learned strong solidarity and to live with others in harmony.  From my international friends, I learned to accept and appreciate differences among peoples.  The exchange student year was meaningful as I gained so many life lessons.  Although it has been 4 months since my return, all the memories are still vivid in my mind.  Sometimes, I can still hear my friends calling, “Sung, Sung!” and I can still visualize the streets of my university campus.  I am really thrilled to start fresh in Korea as a new person awaiting another great opportunity.



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