Seoul, South Korea
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
I actually did not know anything about liberal arts colleges until my junior year in high school. I went to a small prep school because I enjoy getting involved in many extracurricular activities, thus my college counselor strongly encouraged me to go to a small liberal arts college as opposed to the other big universities that we international students typically know about. Bowdoin was the only small school I visited and I loved it. Although it was a long time ago, I can still remember how great I felt stepping on campus for the first time. On top of stellar academics, I felt very comfortable with the environment and the people. From then on, I knew Bowdoin was the right place where I could happily pursue my college career.
Why did you choose you major?
When I first came to Bowdoin, I was hoping to pursue a career in medicine. But it was my sophomore year when I came to the realization that instead of all the science courses that I had been taking since high school, I wanted to study something that involved both social science and math. Taking my first class with Professor Khan of the Economics department during my second semester of my sophomore year caught my interest and directed my academic and career path towards economics.
What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
I love learning new languages. Although Korean is my first language and English has always been my second language, I have also had the desire to learn other languages at Bowdoin. Chinese and Japanese courses were my favorites. They were all challenging courses because I had to invest at least three hours a day per course to maintain a solid understanding of the language. I also appreciated the opportunities these languages offered me to study abroad in China and Japan during the past two summers. I have recently learned that on top of English, Japanese and Chinese language skills are crucial factors for great job opportunities not only back home in Seoul, but also all over Asia. I am planning to continue studying these two languages even after graduation.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
I have been a member of the Korean American Student Association (KASA) since the day it was founded during my freshmen year. I was also a member of the 2004-2005 residential life staff. I also played rugby during the fall of 2004, but due to an unexpected injury, and time conflict, I was forced to stop playing. I have spent most of my time with the Bowdoin Meddiebempsters, an all male a cappella group on campus. I sing second tenor and baritone and have arranged some music for the group, and currently I am arranging an "interesting set" of music for our last spring concert. I met most of my friends through the Meddies and I know that my experiences at Bowdoin have been very special because of these friends. I also had the opportunity to take the whole group back to Seoul with me for two weeks of performances and a tour of the peninsula this past winter.
Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
Because I was on leave for a significant period of time for my mandatory military service back in Seoul, my time at Bowdoin was limited to complete my major and graduation requirements, and thus I was unable study abroad during the academic year. Instead, I spent my past two summers in China (2004) and in Japan (2005). Although the languages are very different, Korea, Japan, and China have long been close together and share many cultural similarities. Studying abroad in these countries not only helped me to overcome the language barriers, but also allowed me to make many friends and learn important aspects of the culture which I feel I could not have learned in an academic setting. I plan to return to these countries after graduation to further study the language and truly experience the business aspect of the culture, which I believe will be crucial components of my career.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
My best Bowdoin memory would have to be the trip back home with the Meddies. I had seen other prestigious universities and colleges from the United States come perform their a cappella music in Korea. Since then I had always hoped that a group from Bowdoin could come and perform in Korea and familiarize the nation with Bowdoin a bit. Our two-week trip was a phenomenal experience and I cannot explain how grateful and proud I was as a Bowdoin student. We performed at the major churches and hospitals in Seoul and even at SBS, Korea's nationwide TV station. Through this tour we were able to start our first gathering of the Bowdoin community in Korea and establish the "Bowdoin Club of Korea." We were also hosted by the mayor of Ulsan City, the home to Korea's heavy auto industry and to Hyundai Corporation. The mayor was generous enough to organize a tour for us of the whole city, the Hyundai Corporation, several historical/ancient sites, and Buddhist temples. In one of the temples we sang our classic repertoire to female monks. The performance at the U.S. army base, going to see the Backstreet Boys' first concert in Seoul, singing at karaoke bars, and singing at the local restaurants and subway stations were also unforgettable events. Whenever and wherever we felt like singing, we would gather and give small performances and the crowds around us enjoyed them very much. The entire two week experience made us much closer as friends and gave us unforgettable memories which we will cherish always.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I am looking forward to working for IBM Business Consulting Services based in Seoul, Korea. I have not been informed about the details yet, but it appears that I will be doing a lot of traveling all over East Asia, particularly Japan, Korea, and China. As I mentioned earlier, having an economics background, learning the two languages at Bowdoin, and the opportunities provided to me by the generous support of my professors have all contributed to landing such a great job opportunity. I am also very excited to be back home and work for such a global company.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Bowdoin offers variety of opportunities and activities and I would encourage all prospective students to take advantage of what Bowdoin has to offer to them. I would also tell them to reach out and meet as many people as possible through joining clubs and trying new activities. That's where you meet new people. Finally, I would also encourage them to get to know their professors as well as possible, as that is one way in which Bowdoin is unique. The faculty are especially approachable and interested in students.