An interview with Hyun-Young Choi from South Korea. Hyun-Young is a Junior, studying International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania College of General Studies. She spent a summer studying intensive English at Penn's English Language Programs.
Why did you decide to enter a U.S. summer intensive English program?
I was studying in International studies, hadn't had experience abroad and I wanted to improve my English. I wanted to write research papers well, in English. I needed an adaptation period before classes started, and ELP could help me with that.
How did you choose your summer English program?
Penn is one of the Ivy's. I heard Penn has one of the best International Relations departments.
What did you like best?
I learned differences in systems between Korea and the U.S.A. In U.S.A. they are very strict about quoting. There is more stress about plagiarism.
What did you miss most?
Food! Because Philadelphia is a city, I can access Korean food but there are some of my favorites that are missing. Sometimes I cook at International House with friends.
What was your biggest surprise?
Students look very loose, they always go to parties but when it comes to exam time they're writing 2-3 pages on the same topic. Everything seems more relaxed but they're studying hard.
... your biggest disappointment?
I thought it would be very easy to make American friends. They didn't talk to me because I didn't approach them.
How did you handle language differences?
I'm quite extroverted so I use a lot of body language & expressions so they can catch what I'm trying to say.
How did your English improve?
Everyone has a curve on learning English. My speed of improvement was slower because I came at higher level, confidence improved for speaking in class. Research method helped me most with writing term papers. I don't have to be shy or afraid of the teacher because they're English teachers so they're there to correct me and help me improve.
What were your activities?
Choral society on Mondays, and I work at ELP & in I-House.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
In the ELP – easy! Because I'm bold and talk a lot. All ELP students are from other countries so I can speak well with them, we help each other improve and learn English.
How relevant was your U.S. summer English program to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
My ultimate goal is to work in the U.N. in economic development. English is a global language, I have to be fluent & professional.
What is your advice to other students?
Have an open mind. We can learn English in our native countries, but studying in the U.S.A., you can easily access the culture every day. The speed of learning language is faster.