- We May All Be Different, but Our Experience Here Will Unite Us as Proud Yonseians November 17, 2022
UD Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) Student Khairil from Malaysia
Name: Iman Khairil
College: Underwood International College (UIC)
Major: Underwood Division - Political Science and International Relations (entering class of '20)
"My name is Iman Khairil. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am a junior at Underwood International College (UIC) and currently majoring in political science and international relations (PSIR). I joined Yonsei in Spring 2020 and have been here ever since.
Initially, it was not my plan to study in Korea. I had intended to follow in the footsteps of my family; both my parents and my older brothers all pursued their bachelor's and master's degrees in the United Kingdom, and I was already enrolled in a Scottish university with a pre-established plan to study in Scotland for three years. The decision to pursue my studies in South Korea was made as I was suddenly prompted by a desire to stray away from the norm and head in an unfamiliar direction. I wanted to experience something new, exciting, and foreign! I had some interest in Korean culture and media before, so I thought to myself, "Why not? Why not apply to a university there?" I threw myself fully into this idea and started the journey by learning the language and making applications to Yonsei and another university in Seoul. Eventually, with Yonsei being respected as one of the top universities in South Korea that houses the oldest English-speaking liberal art college in the country, Yonsei became the destination of my adventure in a completely unfamiliar territory.
As I started living in Korea, the COVID-19 pandemic had just started to hit the country, so not only was I already nervous because of living in a completely new environment, but I was also now experiencing the pandemic alone in a country where I was not fluent with the language yet. I was very thankful that I got to live in the dormitories as it helped me make new friends amidst online classes. I sometimes reminisce about those moments I walked around the empty campus, and explored areas surrounding us, wondering what campus life was like before the pandemic hit.
Back then, there were many restrictions put into place. We were not allowed to hang out inside the dormitory, not allowed to use all the communal facilities available, and we could not even visit each other's rooms! I felt like I had missed out on core college activities, but my friends and I made memories on our own. I remember we were given permission by the university to host a small get-together for Halloween in 2020 as COVID-19 cases were getting lower and restrictions in the country were minimized, and that became one of my most memorable events during my freshman year. It was one moment where I thought, this is what was missing in my college life.
Amidst several restrictions, engaging in club activities provided opportunities and experiences that I missed out on during the pandemic. I was active in two clubs, the Underwood Global Community (UGC) and the Yonsei Annals. UGC is a club that encourages cultural exchanges among culturally diverse students at UIC. I joined UGC as a public relations officer in charge of public relations and event management to meet new people and help assimilate new students coming to UIC. I wanted to give back the help I received from my wonderful seniors who had helped me settle into college life. I was also a producer for the Yonsei Annals' content team. The Annals is the official English press of Yonsei, publishing magazines monthly and producing videos weekly. During my time in the Annals, I was tasked with planning and production of the media content, and I was also involved with the production of card news for their Instagram page. This was a great place to express my creative side and work with a team with similar interests.
With this semester being the first offline semester on campus, everything seems fresh and exciting. Being able to roam freely and explore the Yonsei campus and physically meet professors is exhilarating and unnerving all at the same time. The first day of offline classes was surreal, and at times I couldn't believe I was sitting in a classroom in Daewoo Hall Annex, surrounded by other students, waiting for the professor to enter. Watching, listening, and engaging with everyone via Zoom in the past had placed us in these somewhat safe and individual, protected capsules, and coming out of that zone threw me a little out of whack: a little scary and bizarre, and yet I was happy and relieved. I finally got to meet and be a part of the Yonsei community.
The Yonsei experience has, through the many engagement initiatives as well as the encouragement given to club members to have activities, really shown that Yonsei strives to be inclusive. The opportunity to engage and be a part of a culturally diverse group has also made me realize that we're all not so different. We may come from different parts of the world, in different shapes and sizes, and with varying backgrounds and life experiences, but our experience here will unite us as proud Yonseians and most definitely prepare us for the real world."
Interview by student reporter Jo Beomsu
* Yonsei University's Underwood International College (UIC) is a highly selective, English-language, four-year liberal arts institution, which combines the intimate, elite learning environment of an American-style liberal arts college with the faculty and resources of Korea's top private research university. UIC students choose from an extensive list of classes conducted entirely in English and taught by a distinguished group of international and Korean scholars. With a student body drawn from around the world, UIC focuses on ensuring that its outstanding students have the intellectual foundation to become exceptional leaders capable of changing the world for the better.