SAF Korea alumni reflect on study abroad and prepare for global careers

Students stand together in a conference room at the SAF Korea Alumni Seminar

The SAF Korea staff hosted an alumni seminar for returning students and their peers on February 22, 2023, in Seoul. The seminar invited SAF alumni to reflect on their study abroad experiences and discuss next steps in pursuing a global career.

“It was good to have time to think about the things that happened after studying abroad, the emotions I felt, and my growth,” said Yesol Lee (SAF - University of Glasgow | Fall 2022). “It was good to have an opportunity to interact with people who had similar experiences.”

SAF Korea manager Suyeon Lee led the discussion inviting the alumni to share about challenges they faced while abroad, how they overcame these challenges, and ways that they have grown academically, emotionally, and socially through their study abroad experience. 

The discussion also touched on experiences of reverse culture shock, which many students experience after returning home after studying abroad. In a pre-seminar survey, 38% of attendees said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “When I came back to Korea after studying abroad and talked about values and social structure, I felt a sense of difference when talking with my family/friends.” 

Additionally, 46% of attendees agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “After returning to Korea after studying abroad, I felt depressed because I was worried about my future studies and employment.” To acknowledge and address these concerns, the second portion of the alumni seminar focused on exploring global career opportunities. 

SAF staff presented on topics including why students should consider a global career, how to stand out in a competitive job market, and advice for setting career and personal goals. Additionally, the attendees heard the personal experience and advice from a professional working in the global IT sector.

The alumni seminar gave students the opportunity not only to reflect on their study abroad experiences, but also to build on the career guidance and development they received during their SAF program. 

"I had a clear dream to work in the film industry or broadcasting; however, I did not know the practical way to achieve that dream,” said Jiwon Jung (SAF – UC Berkeley | Spring 2022). “I was able to start planning out my career path more practically through one-on-one SAF counseling before studying abroad and during my time at UC Berkeley." 

At the close of the seminar, attendees learned how they could continue to expand their global career readiness and cross-cultural experiences through IES Internships and the IES Meet SAF Buddy Program.

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