An Interview with Yusun Lee from South Korea
1. Why did you decide to study in the USA? What subject are you studying?
Right now, I'm pursuing a BA in Studio Art. To be honest, getting into a university in South Korea to study art is far more difficult than you might assume. Because, in contrast to the United States, Korean assessors are solely interested in my artistic abilities, not my artistic personality.
I had to take a 5-hour art entrance exam for each of the institutions I applied to. Everyone must attend art academies, which cost 2,000 dollars per month for a few years to prepare for this exam. During that time, I saw that all of the pupils had similar art styles, so I couldn't tell who drew them. This also leads to expensive academy expenditures.
I'd say the cost of attending a private academy is nearly equal to the cost of studying abroad in the United States. If I am not admitted into a university, I will have to retake the exam in a year. I didn't want to risk my life for an uncertain outcome. As a result, I chose to attend a community college in the United States, where the amount of effort put in yields positive outcomes.
2. Why did you choose Golden West College (GWC)? What’s special about it?
The two reasons I chose Golden West College are that they have a good international student office and an art department. The international student office always looks after international students and communicates with them. Any issues that arise for international students, they do their utmost to resolve. They are also patient and understand that international pupils do not speak English well. These points struck a chord with me.
At first, I chose this college because it offered a large number of transferable art classes. But now I know that the art department has excellent professors who make basic learners feel at ease. They make every effort to teach students that learning art can be enjoyable.
3. What was it like taking courses at GWC virtually from South Korea? What kind of support helped you continue to pursue your degree at GWC despite the challenges?
With the pandemic, I began my college life. In South Korea, I had to take online lessons for two years with a time difference of 17 hours. This meant that I had to attend classes from 1 AM-5 AM. It was great to save money on living expenses in the United States, but my body was usually sleepy. Despite this problem, I was able to acquire assistance from a tutoring center. I reserved tutors by subject, and I requested essay modifications such as grammar and spelling from English tutors. This assistance was extremely beneficial in the absence of learning English in the United States.
4. Tell us about your most memorable class at GWC. What is the top lesson you gained from this class?
I want to say every art class that I took was memorable: Art History, Life Drawing, Painting, and 3D Color and Design. I discovered that if I put effort into each artwork, the professor will acknowledge it.
In addition, I am aware that lines are prominent in my art style. When I was in South Korea, I constantly got a C, and they told me to "use soft lines to achieve an A." But now I'm getting A's without changing anything, with professors telling me, "I can see your style," which makes me pleased. I will not abandon my artistic style and will continue to draw in it.
5. Tell us about your experience with the scholarship application process. What scholarships were you awarded?
I worked hard to maintain a good GPA to be considered for a scholarship, and I produced a personal statement presenting myself to be considered for a scholarship. In addition, the application procedure went well thanks to the scholarship office at Golden West College, which was helpful. I applied based on the scholarship category, emphasizing my status as an international student specializing in art. As a result, I've received $1,250 in scholarships from three different scholarships until now.
6. How was the transfer process to California State University of Long Beach? How did GWC support you? Were you admitted to any other universities?
I worked with the transfer center on the procedure, and they answered all of my inquiries. Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Fullerton are the three California State Universities to which I applied. Finally, I was accepted to all of the California State Universities to which I applied.
7. You just moved to California. How is the transition to life in the USA? What is your favorite and least favorite thing about life here?
It makes me pleased to be in California. I admire cultures that appreciate one another and originate from diverse countries. I also enjoy a variety of foods from various countries, as well as the pleasant weather. The downsides are finding a safe place to live and always having to rely on Uber. In South Korea, I lived with my family. In contrast, I moved here without family two months ago. I had to find a safe house to live in alone, and I had to take Uber to college and other places I wanted to go.
It is hard to walk to live in a large country like America. I considered buying a car, but car insurance for international students costs the same as taking Uber. I'm also concerned that if I have an accident while driving my automobile, it will cost a lot of money for hospitals in the United States. I'm looking forward to moving into the dorms after I transfer to California State University. As a result, I don't have to find a place to live and rely on Uber to get to college.
8. What is your future career goal?
Computers are used in almost all businesses. I'm majoring in fine art, so I'm only learning the fundamentals of sketching and painting. However, I had a chance to design the business card and event poster to help my family business. Through that, I realized the significance of using computers. This prompted me to consider changing my major to BFA graphic design. In addition, I observed my parents and grandparents struggling to use computers which is an essential thing to run the business. This inspired me to become a UX designer who considers the comfort of future generations.
"Design is based on art," the professor once told me. This was the deciding factor in my decision to change my major to graphic design. Surprisingly, the basic requirements for a BFA in graphic design were the same as those for a BFA in studio art. As a result, I decided to pursue a BFA in graphic design as a major and a minor in child development. As an artist, my long-term goal is to contribute to making the world a better place for my descendants.
9. What your top 3 tips for other international students who want to study in the USA?
The first tip is to decide on a major and then look into which universities you wish to attend. Following that, if you locate the institution, use https://assist.org/ to locate a community college with many transferable classes to the university. For example, I established a goal of attending California State University, Long Beach to get a BFA in art. So I looked for California community colleges with several transferring art classes where I could achieve an AA-T degree. As a result, I chose Golden West College from among California's community institutions. (If you are an art major looking to transfer to Cal State, I strongly advise you to come to Golden West College!!)
The second piece of advice is to take 4-5 classes in one semester. I could complete my community college education in two and a half years. I took 16 lessons in total, including one ESL class and general education subjects. (Remember that if you are an international student, you might be required to take ESL class. Try your hardest to get a decent score on a placement test, which determines how many ESL classes you might take). The total number of classes you take is determined by your major. When you start college, I recommend that you consult with an academic counselor and establish a plan.
The final tip is to do your hardest to earn as high a grade as possible. I have two Bs in my grade thus far, but everything else is A in a total of 61 units. I believe that maintaining a high GPA is essential for transferring to California State University, Long Beach. If you don't get a good grade, you'll have to stay at a community college for a longer period of time.
I believe you will have a successful community college experience if you remember these three things!!
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