Lupita Davila, an alumna of GGHS (class of 2010) and UCSB (class of 2014), is currently working as a Web Designer/Developer at a software company in Santa Barbara. While in college, Lupita had taken an opportunity to study abroad in Seoul, South Korea. Here she shares her amazing journey:
If you’re thinking of traveling and experiencing a new culture, I’d say do it while you’re in college. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made. I picked the Yonsei University summer program in South Korea because the culture interested me and Yonsei had a cool internship program. I landed an internship at Vingle Inc, a start-up company in Gangnam. Interning at Vingle was a dream come true because I was interested in interning in a mobile app start-up. I didn’t know how to speak Korean, but everyone was so friendly and patient with me (and most people in Seoul spoke English). Working at Vingle gave me a taste of the start-up world as well as Korean culture.
Traveling and immersing yourself in a new culture teaches you so many things about yourself. Making friends was harder than I imagined, but it wasn’t impossible! I decided to join a weekly language exchange so I could learn some basic Korean. I made great friends who showed me great spots in Seoul that I wouldn’t have known about as a tourist. I admit that some days I would feel lonely or out of place. I decided to go to a Salsa class near campus because I was so homesick. I discovered a community of Latinos in Korea and local Koreans interested in Latino culture, which was exciting! My intention was to immerse myself in Korean culture when I went to Korea, but I realized that sharing my culture was just as wonderful as learning a new culture. Going abroad put me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to grow in ways I never thought was possible. I made a fool of myself, got lost in the subway multiple times, tried new foods (and cried from the spiciness), and learned many things about Korean culture that I will always hold close to my heart.
If you’re going to take anything away from this little snippet of my life, I would say go chasing after your dreams, even if it sounds impossible. Apply to schools, internships, and jobs that interest you, even if you think you won’t get it. I thought landing an internship abroad was something that only happened in movies, but it happened! And don’t let money scare you. I’m a first generation Latina student and my family could not afford college, let alone a summer trip to the other side of the world. Apply to scholarships, financial aid, save money, and fundraise. The study abroad office at my campus had many resources and helpful advisers that helped me with the whole process. Think positively because you never know if doors will open for you!