Yonsei Deepens Interest in Scientific Research
Issraa Shoucair, a University of Toronto student majoring in Human Biology with a minor in History, was determined to participate in an exchange program to broaden her cultural horizons. When asked what triggered her interest in an exchange program in Korea, she said: “I met many Korean students in my school who were on exchange. After hearing about Korea from them, I felt that Korea is an underestimated, or overlooked, country, when it actually has so much to offer. As a science major, I was attracted to Korea’s innovation in science. Also, after hearing about Korea’s ‘education fever,’ I wanted to experience the fierce academic competitiveness in a different environment like Korea.”
This desire to experience fierce competitiveness led her to Yonsei: “I heard how Yonsei pushes its students hard to study. It is also a well-funded and innovative school, which is what I sought when considering where to go for study abroad.”
Issraa’s favorite course at Yonsei was “Cold War International History.” She explained: “The professor is fantastic, and the course is run in a seminarstyle, where twenty-plus students from different backgrounds take part in interesting class discussions. Through this course, I learned skills that I could not have refined in my biology major.” This course also significantly increased her knowledge of the Korean War, as the history curriculum in Canada tends to gloss over the Cold War in East Asia. “I especially admire the resilience and the ‘can do’ mentality of Koreans even after the country was devastated by war,” she said.
Issraa was also able to take a course in molecular biology at UIC. This course deepened her interest in research, while, thanks to the small class size, helping her to develop greater confidence. “Before,” she said, “I was reluctant to approach professors, as there were too many students in one course, and it was a hassle to compete for attention. After taking this course at Yonsei, I became much more comfortable with seeking help from professors, and this has definitely roused greater interest in research. With greater attention from the professor, I also feel like I’m really learning something.”
When asked if she would recommend Yonsei as a study abroad destination for her peers in Toronto, she answered: “Definitely. Yonsei has many advantages for an exchange program. For example, you get to take English-instructed courses in a non-English-speaking country. The UIC course catalog is very advantageous, as it offers a wide range of courses beyond the typical business, international relations, and East Asian studies fields offered in other exchange programs. Also, since I’m a science major, and it’s very difficult for me to schedule my history minor courses, my exchange at Yonsei allowed me to fulfill both my major and minor requirements, thanks to the course pre-authorization system at Toronto.”
Hopefully, Issraa’s example will encourage more STEM majors from Toronto to take up the challenge of studying abroad.