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Nya Washington Alters Course, Travels to Seoul Through CIS Abroad

Nya Washington Nya Washington

Student chooses Seoul, Korea, for a study abroad opportunity

Aiken, SC (05/05/2023) — What began as a Covid hobby led to one of the best decisions senior Nya Washington has ever made. After teaching herself the Korean language during the pandemic shutdown, she chose Seoul, Korea, for a study abroad opportunity.

Nya is a business administration major minoring in Spanish translation and once hoped to study in Costa Rica. However, her new love of the Korean language prompted her to change direction.

"I was practicing Spanish to give myself something to do and then said 'Let's try something harder,'" she says. "I kept up with it, learned the culture, and decided I wanted to study in Seoul instead."

Since late February, Nya has been studying at Sogang University through the Center for International Studies Abroad, which offers direct enrollment in a university abroad as an international student. Her credits earned there will return back to USC Aiken as transfer credits.

Nya is living in a dorm for exchange students and taking courses in business and Korean language. She describes Seoul as a lively city surrounded by mountainous country where the people are welcoming. Convenient public transportation and a surprisingly high number of English-speaking locals have helped her adjust to her new environment.

Adjusting to the time difference and the food has been a little more difficult, however. "When I want to tell someone from home about an exciting experience, I have to remember I am 14 hours ahead," she says.

While Nya enjoys buying fresh fruit and vegetables from produce stands in Seoul, the Orangeburg native misses homecooked meals. "I can't find everything here I need to recreate meals from home, and we don't have access to a kitchen in the dorm. Most of my meals are purchased at campus restaurants with my meal plan."

Nya says she always wanted to travel and hopes that her experience with the Korean language and culture will give her a competitive edge in the business world. "Most students choose somewhere more popular, such as Costa Rica, but I'm hoping my experience in Seoul will help set me apart," she says.

Nya is expected to graduate in the fall of 2024 and plans to become a freelance interpreter and dance studio owner, combining her interest in the Korean language and culture with her love of dance. She says, "The two may not seem like they go together, but when you learn a language, you learn the culture to go with it. This includes performance art."

During her stay, Nya has most enjoyed the cultural fashion statements that can be seen everywhere from historic landmarks to the streets of Seoul. She had the opportunity to visit the Gyeongbok Palace, the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty built in 1395, where visitors are dressed in traditional Korean formal event attire. Walking through the city, it is not uncommon to see Japanese visitors in traditional kimonos. "You see something different every day," she says.

Nya will return to the United States on June 22. While she's looking forward to a homecooked meal, she knows she will look back on her experience as a rewarding one.

"Coming here is one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself," she says. "Being immersed in a different culture allows you to see how other people live their lives, and the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds and cultures will help open doors."

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