Andrew Chung graduated from USC with a BA in East Asian Area Studies and Communication in May 2011, and also took part in EASC’s Global East Asia program to Korea in summer 2010. Upon finishing school, Andrew traveled to Korea again to participate in the Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK) program, where he taught English for a year and a half. He is currently enrolled in a Korean language program at Sogang University in Seoul.
How did you become interested in East Asia?
In high school, AP European History piqued my interest in the development of the Western nations we know today and how they each came to their current circumstances. Soon after, I also felt more compelled to study the Korean language and about Korea after traveling there in the summer of 2005 with my father, who is Korean. Seeing how closely situated China, Japan, and Korea are and their influence on each other, I quickly became entranced by Eastern cultures, their history, and their development on a regional level.
How was your experience on the Global East Asia Korea program in 2010 and how did it impact you?
The Global East Asia Korea program in 2010 was enlightening and helped me to become more comfortable with living and studying in Korea as a resident, as opposed to two previous visits to Korea as a tourist. The program also helped me to make several friends in Seoul with whom I still keep in regular contact. As a result of this wide base of experiences, I gained a greater perspective and understanding of Korea in addition to a desire to learn more still.
Tell us about what you have been doing since you graduated from USC in 2011 and your experiences abroad.
Even before graduation in May 2011 I sent in my application to Teach and Learn in Korea (TaLK), an English teaching program aimed at placing native English-speaking college graduates or current college students in rural elementary schools in order to promote greater spoken English proficiency. After graduating and being accepted into the TaLK program, I lived and worked in a small city called Boryeong on the west coast of South Korea near the middle of the country. Despite the difficulties of working with children and adapting to life in a foreign language, I enjoyed my experiences and renewed my contract for 6 months beyond the original one year I signed up for. I made a lot of friends and met many relatives during this time, but I felt that something was always missing from our relationships because of difficulties communicating in Korean and/or English. Since finishing my contract with TaLK, I enrolled in a Korean language program at Sogang University in Seoul and am now studying the language intensively.
What did you value most about being an EAAS major, and what advice do you have for current students?
As an EAAS major, I use my background knowledge in East Asia as a framework for understanding the environment I now live in and the people I interact with daily. It was, and still is, invaluable both in getting me to where I am now and for trying to make sense of what direction to take in the present.
I would suggest that current students look into government scholarship programs to study abroad, both those offered by their home country and the country they want to visit. There seem to be a lot of language programs that are only offered to current students, so take advantage of them. Look into the possibility of studying abroad for a semester or a year, and don’t worry too much about graduating later than you initially planned. Like I mentioned, most of the programs are limited to current students only and so once you graduate you lose what could potentially be an all-expenses-paid study abroad experience.
What are your future career/academic goals?
I’m not sure whether my future lies in Korea, the U.S., teaching, business, etc., but for the immediate future I am hoping to find a job in Korea. I would like to stay here so that I can continue to learn and practice Korean, and make sure that I don’t forget what I am studying right now in my language program. My plan is to apply for a job at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul or find other work, and then re-evaluate in a year or two whether to keep working or pursue a different career path and/or a graduate degree.