Moving abroad alone is not an easy decision, and oftentimes comes with sacrifices. However, the invaluable experiences, connections, and opportunities that you can only get once you move to a new country, can completely transform one’s life. Today we interview Kristine Faye C. Mondares, a GSIS student of the Master’s in Development Cooperation.
Could you introduce yourself?
I am Kristine Faye C. Mondares, a student coming from a humble family in the Philippines. I came to Korea as an undergraduate student when I was 17 years old. At that time, I was a student taking up Behavioral Sciences at the University of the Philippines, Manila, as I dreamed of becoming a doctor. But life is, indeed, unpredictable. I pursued my undergraduate degree in BA International Studies at Ewha DIS under the International Exchange Scholarship, where I luckily graduated as the Magna Cum Laude of my batch in 2017.
Why did you choose GSIS? What attracted you to come here?
As I have mentioned earlier, I took up my undergraduate degree from the same university and it opened up a lot of opportunities for me. Being an Ewha alumna, I was able to land a job in Korea right after I graduated, where I was even promoted to Assistant Manager in my department. However, I have decided to pursue my higher studies and switch my career to foreign diplomacy. I did not pause for a minute and decided right away to apply to GSIS, as I was well aware of the quality of education, training, presence of respectable faculty members, and promising female leaders that I am able to interact with within and outside the campus. The education here promotes individuality while being surrounded by people who are there to challenge and protect you at the same time.
Adjusting to life in Korea: expectations, how you were able to settle down, and how you felt when you moved.
I got my first impression of Korea from the “K-wave”, just like most of the students here, but what intrigues me the most is Korea’s generosity in scholarship and determination to pursue higher education. Coming to Korea as a 17-year-old was indeed a frightening and exciting moment for me. It was my first time being alone in a foreign country. Luckily, I was supported by friends and Filipino communities which are of great help, especially when I long for home. The university has always been generous in assuring that international students are being taken care of, from academics to extracurricular activities.
I came to Korea without any knowledge of the language, but I do not think of that as a hurdle as there are plenty of English-taught courses that you can choose from at Ewha. I do not mean to say that Korean language should not be learned. Ewha has always been supportive in offering Korean classes to international students. Knowing the Korean language has opened a lot of opportunities for me, enabling a smooth transition in day-to-day living.In terms of the quality of education, every student that I met has always been so competitive. The campus provides a participatory environment where everyone can learn from each other. Coming from a multinational department like the GSIS, I have seen the world and issues from different lenses, offering me different perspectives on how I view things now.
To conclude, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was given to me to pursue my dreams in Korea is definitely a gift that molds my totality as an individual. With determination, courage, and prayers, everything is possible. What I once dreamed about has become a reality.