Yelena Denisenko from Brown University2016.12.06 Minseon Ku 301
Yelena Denisenko (American)
Course in Yonsei So Far the "Best"
South Korea has always been part of Yelena Denisenko’s life since she was 13. She first got to know about Korean popular culture (“K-pop”) through her friends. Back then, Yelena was just like any other teenage girl who watched Korean dramas and swooned over Korean heart throbs like actor Gong Yoo after watching the drama “Coffee Prince.” This adolescent hobby landed her in a two-week exchange program in 2011 when she was a 15 year-old high school student. And Yelena was lucky during her first visit to Seoul. Her homestay host family lived close to the café that was the filming location of “Coffee Prince” and she was able to visit the café in person easily.
Although it was centered around sight-seeing around Seoul and Korea, some of the activities in the exchange program took place on the Sinchon campus of Yonsei. This brief yet powerful impression of Yonsei in the eyes of a 15 year-old brought Yelena back to the very same campus five years later as a college student as she wanted to see if Yonsei today matched her “15 year-old impression” of a dynamic and exciting campus life. Fortunately, the two impressions matched and she is enjoying her semester to the fullest.
Although her major is Computer Science, Yelena is taking two courses that are not related to her major (in addition to Computer Network and Korean language courses) - AI (Robotics) Ethics and Social Meaning at the Theology department and another course on potential unification of Korea. She finds the former the “best class” she has ever taken in her college life as it is not only related to her major in computer science but it has made her think critically about the imminent changes that would be brought about by AI in the near future and their implications in ethics and morale.
If contemporary Korean popular culture led Yelena to visit Korea in 2011, curiosity about Korean traditional culture was what lured her back to Korea again in 2016. When asked which aspect of Korean traditional culture impressed her the most, she answered that Buddhism fascinated her not only in terms of how Buddhism is intertwined with Korean history, but also the location of the temples that offered breathtaking views of Korean land and seascapes.
In addition to traditional culture, Yelena was also interested in the current affairs in Korea. The course “Current Affairs and the Reunification of the Korean Peninsula” satisfied her interest as she could learn more about South Korea’s policies as well as the different generational perspectives about unification.
Her semester in Yonsei and In Korea also shaped her future career plan. Before coming to Yonsei, just like any other Computer Science majors, Yelena foresaw herself working in tech companies located in San Francisco and northeastern part of the U.S. After a semester here, however, she has started to open up to the possibilities of working in Korean companies like Samsung and LG Electronics to learn more about the success and failure of Korean model of IT business. Her participation in AKFN Listeners Club (ALC), one of the oldest student clubs in Yonsei, has also prepped her for job interviews at Korean firms.
When asked if she would recommend peers at Brown University to come to Yonsei for an exchange, she answered “100 percent for sure” because coming to Yonsei as part of the CIEE program provides students with opportunities to engage in Korean culture and society through diverse activities like tours and volunteering. The diverse course catalog in Yonsei combined with Brown’s mandatory-free course requirement have worked perfectly for Yelena as she could choose freely high-quality courses at Yonsei that are at the same time credit-transferable to Brown University.