A non-traditional venture; Q&A with Ina Kim

Kim overcomes hurtles for different college experience

By Victoria Lacy
On January 31, 2014

  • Adam Aldric Garcia, senior, performs at the Cork & Pig Tavern. Kimberley Parker

Senior Ina Kim is an inspiration to any student who wants to have an adventure while attending college.  

She in an international student who is studying business at ASU, but she did not come to the United States through a student exchange program, or as a study abroad student.

 She wanted to be enveloped in the culture of another country for longer than a semester or a year.

Kim researched schools, filled out applications, and got a student visa on her own.

Because of the route she chose to take, she has had to overcome some hurtles, but she has also had a different experience than most international students.

Her decision to study overseas has been challenging at times, but it has been, and continues to be, rewarding.

Kim offers advice to students who want to go to college abroad.

Victoria Lacy: Where are you from?

Ina Kim: I'm from Ulsan in South Korea. It's a big industrial city.

Lacy: What made you decide to go abroad for college?

Kim: I just wanted to venture out. I didn't want to stay in a little world. I wanted to meet new people and have new experiences.  So far, it's so good.

Lacy: Why did you choose to come to ASU for college?

Kim: I originally wanted to go to school somewhere in Canada, but ASU offered me a good scholarship. I learned about ASU through Internet research. The tuition is reasonable and ASU offered me a good opportunity. The living expenses are reasonable in Texas, too.

Lacy: Angelo State has sister schools in South Korea, so there is a large presence of international students on campus. Did that influence your decision to come to ASU?

Kim: When I came here in 2010, there were only about 20 other South Korean students at ASU through exchange programs, so that didn't factor into my decision.

Lacy: Do you have the support of a community here?

Kim: The International Student Center set me up with a host family before I originally came, and that helped me with the international transition. But, I was still pretty independent and chose to learn things on my own. Now, I'm still involved with the center, but on a much smaller scale.

Lacy: Was it hard meeting people and making connections initially?

Kim:  Kind of! I participated in a lot of organizations and I went to church as well. You can meet a lot of people through church and campus organizations. You just have to get involved.
Lacy: Was it hard to leave your family?

Kim:  My parents were very encouraging. They told me, "Just go, girl!" I have awesome parents; I'm so lucky to have them! It's just my parents, my older sister and me. At first I was so homesick, but I know that they're always there for my support. I've only been home once since I got here, and that was two years ago. We stay in contact over the phone, but I don't use Skype or other video messaging that often.

Lacy: What do you like best about attending college in the United States?

Kim: I think that people are nicer here compared with any other part of the world.
Lacy: Did you visit ASU to set things up before classes started?

Kim: No, I did everything through phone and email. It was really difficult to make arrangements with ASU before I got here. I was on the phone a lot, and my host family helped me a lot. I just asked for people's help, and kept asking questions. You don't have to be ashamed of that. It's a different environment, and people will help you. That's really the only way to help the transition. Just trust that it's going to work out.

Lacy: South Korea is a long way to travel from just to move into a dorm room! How did you get all of your things here?

Kim: I had to buy most of my stuff here, because I didn't want to pack all of that stuff and have it shipped. I originally lived in the dorms, so I didn't need a lot of stuff. I didn't have a car my first semester here. The pastor of my church had a car for sale, and he helped me buy it by offering me a really good deal. One thing I really like about the U.S. is that the gas is much cheaper. I like that a lot. Now I live in an apartment, and I like that because it's cheaper than the dorms.

Lacy: Have you been to any other countries?

Kim: I've traveled quite a bit. Before coming to ASU, I visited China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Since I have been at ASU, I studied abroad in Ireland and the U.K.

Lacy: Are you going to stay in the United States?

Kim: Not forever. I'll probably stay another couple years and get work experience and to build my resume for a career. I'm doing an internship now and would like to do one in management before I leave Texas. While I'm in the U.S., I don't really want to travel outside of Texas for work experience because I like it here!

Lacy: Where do you want to go next?

Kim: Oh my gosh! I really want to go to Canada. I'd like to spend a year there!

Lacy:  Do you think students should take the opportunity to travel abroad while they are in college?

Kim: Yes! You're going to remember it forever. And you learn a lot of new things in other countries and have a larger perspective once you get there and experience people. I understand people so much better now that I've lived in another country. I understand why they act the way they do.

Lacy: Do you have any advice for people who want to travel, but are scared to do it?

Kim: I know some people say, "Hey! I want to travel the world, but I'm afraid to go alone in another country because there are no parents or friends, or family." But just try. It's really good. It's a life experience and memories. I met my best friend here, and it's great!

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