Bear Abroad Joyce in England and Korea

Joyce Pak

Major: Integrative Biology

"Studying abroad helped me broaden my perspectives and helped me appreciate different cultures and lifestyles. No culture is weird, it is just different."


What led you to study abroad? Why did you choose your country/program?

I love traveling because you get to immerse yourself in a much different culture than the one you grew up with. I have traveled to many countries prior to my study abroad and I always thought, “It was always too short”. I was only there for a summer and I never really felt “at home”. Thus, I thought study abroad was the perfect excuse to do coursework while immersing yourself at a new country that could possibly be your new “home”. I chose England because I wanted to go to a country where I was able to speak English and also be at a distance where I could travel all of Western Europe. Additionally, I chose Korea because I wanted to know more about my parent’s culture. I am labeled as a “Korean American” yet I never knew what it meant to be a Korean.

What was the most interesting cultural experience you had abroad?

The most interesting culture experience would be the pub culture in England. I had a friend who had to review her essay with her tutor and her tutor told her to meet at a pub. I realized that pubs are not just a place for having fun with your friends but a place of informal discussions with important people. My friend not only had to sound intelligent but also had to be “cool”.

What was the biggest challenge/concern of your study abroad experience? How did you respond?

My biggest challenge of my study abroad experience was the financial burden of being abroad. However, I knew that I wanted to study abroad since my freshman year; thus, I saved up money since my freshman year.

Describe a typical day for you abroad.

In England, I would wake up to go to my lectures, sit in and listen to my professors, explore a different cafés at Bristol with a friend to either chat or study, stop by Brandon Hill, and head back to my flat to rest. Sometimes at night, my friends and I would go to a pub to hang out or plan for our next trip in Europe.

In Korea, I would have classes from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then would go to the heart of Sinchon to explore or would hang out with friends to see more of Seoul.

What coursework did you take while abroad? How did courses abroad compare with Berkeley classes?

I took all my breadth courses abroad and two of my elective courses (I am an integrative biology major). In Bristol, the courses were very similar to Berkeley classes in terms of difficulty structured very differently. They are fostered to be more independent in their studies thus we only had about an average of 12 hours of class time per week. In Korea, the courses were easier than at Berkeley and because it was the summer, we had 6 hours of class from Monday to Thursday.

What was the most memorable/meaningful aspect of your time abroad?

The most memorable aspect of my time abroad was having the opportunity of being a local in both Bristol and Seoul.

What impact did studying abroad have on you personally?

Studying abroad helped me broaden my perspectives and helped me appreciate different cultures and lifestyles. No culture is weird, it is just different.

What would you recommend to students considering studying abroad, especially to your country/program?

If you are considering studying abroad, don’t just consider: GO ABROAD. I promise you, you will not regret your decision.