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Study Abroad Experience Offers HEOP Student New Research Perspectives
Leondra Tyler takes in the lush landscape at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. She pops into the campus café and orders her usual coffee before walking through the forest path that leads to her classes.
It’s her first time studying abroad, but she’s adjusted to campus life with ease. On the weekends, she explores South Korea, while weekdays are reserved for studying sociology, psychology and Korean literature and language.
Tyler, a student of the University’s part-time Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), is the first part-time HEOP student to receive the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) scholarship.
Back home, Tyler is a part-time neuroscience and psychology student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Scholarships like the OTHC scholarship have allowed Tyler to push the limits of post-traditional learning and take part in studying abroad.
“What drew me into the OTHC scholarship program was that I really wanted an academically focused program for Black and brown students. This has given me a great opportunity to connect with Black and brown alumni and hear about their experiences and their post-academic lives,” Tyler says. “Although I just got the scholarship this semester, it’s been really nice knowing that I have a support system, not only at Syracuse but also here at Yonsei.”
A Diverse Learning Experience
Scholarships have not only offered Tyler access to an abundance of networking opportunities, but they have also opened doors that diversify her learning portfolio.
When Tyler wraps up classes for the day, she heads across campus to a PC café, a popular hangout spot for people to eat while they play computer games. While she waits for a game to download, Tyler orders lunch and reviews notes from her class about the history of Korean cinema.
For Tyler, studying abroad has allowed her access to an array of engaging academic experiences and even expanded her viewpoint.
“We’re learning Korean history through film,” Tyler says. “I took the course because I wanted to learn more analytic skills, because that can translate into my research. But also, I wanted to learn more about Korea outside of pop culture.”
However, South Korea’s pop culture has also given Tyler a chance to analyze sociology and psychology from a new perspective. As the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas make their way into American media, Tyler uses K-pop artists like SHINee and 2PM in the course “Understanding K-pop” to examine global trends and parasocial relationships.
“Studying abroad has given me more opportunities to be creative with different projects,” Tyler says. “Sociology courses I’ve taken in the past have been about Western culture, so it’s been nice to learn about it through the lens of Korean society.”
Embracing Communities and Cultures
From attending K-pop concerts to taking part in traditional Korean practices, Tyler has also learned the value of community and the importance of embracing different cultures. Students from 53 different countries gathered at Yonsei University to participate in the study abroad program, giving Tyler the chance to learn about a myriad of cultures.
“I’m not just experiencing Korean culture but also culture from my friends that I met here that are from Australia, New Zealand, and Germany,” Tyler says.
On the weekends, Tyler and her friends take public transportation across South Korea and learn about the history of the country through its landscape. From visiting the coastal city of Busan to exploring the assortment of districts throughout Seoul, Tyler documents it all on her instant film camera and soaks up the unforgettable moments.
While studying on the other side of the world has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, friendship has made Tyler’s study abroad trip an even richer experience.
“Even though we’re all from different parts of the world, I’m going to stay connected with the people I’ve met here for years to come,” Tyler says. “That’s what makes this experience so special.”