Fellowship Puts Student on Path to Discovery

December 12, 2016 | By Tim Pratt

Janet Angulo studied over the summer in South Korea as part of the Global Pathways Fellowship program.

On any given day last summer, Janet Angulo could be found riding on a bus around Seoul, South Korea.

The St. John’s College student was taking in the sights, visiting historic palaces and museums, and trying out the local cuisine.

But Angulo, now a junior on the St. John’s Santa Fe campus, wasn’t visiting South Korea as a tourist. She was participating in the Global Pathways Fellowship program.

The Fellowship, available to St. John’s students in Santa Fe, allowed Angulo to attend the Korean Language and Culture Program at Seoul National University. The Albuquerque native spent four hours a day in class, but also traveled extensively, making the most of her time overseas.

It was an experience that pushed Angulo out of her comfort zone. It also allowed her to improve upon her Korean language skills, which she hopes could set her up for a job in the future.

“I think the experience definitely pushed me outside of myself,” she says. “I’m pretty shy here in class sometimes. To be there, I had to have that realization that I really can’t shy away from these things. I had to go out and do these things and interact with people and put my education to good use.”

Angulo started learning Korean during her freshman year at St. John’s. Many of her friends are Korean, and learning the language was a fun way to interact with them.

The summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Angulo continued to study the language using books she had purchased. She also started to think it could be a skill that might help her land a job one day.

As the St. John’s Office of Career Services publicized the Global Pathways program last year, Angulo started researching the Korean program in Seoul. She applied, was accepted and started preparing for her trip.

Angulo did plenty of sightseeing in Seoul.

When Angulo arrived in Seoul in early June, she was worried about her ability to interact with native Korean speakers. She had some knowledge of the language, but wasn’t fluent.

“The first few days were difficult for sure,” she says. “But then I figured I can’t hide out in my room all summer, so I’m just going to go out and it’s going to be OK.”

And it was. She says the people she encountered were warm and welcoming. They asked her where she was from, and helped her communicate when she needed it, even if it meant using hand signals.

Angulo had to take a placement test for the program at the university, and was put in a class with about a dozen other students learning Korean. Then the class, one of many at the university, went to work.

The program consisted of 200 hours of in-class instruction over a 10-week period. Angulo was in class from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The class covered 16 chapters of content, with each chapter including new vocabulary and at least four new verbal conjugations or instructions. There was a lot of repetition and dialogue exercises, along with homework, tests, midterms and finals.

While Angulo was already familiar with much of what she learned, she says the program was helpful. She says her experience at St. John’s, with its focus on discussion-based learning, aided her in class. She asked a lot of questions, which helped her further her studies beyond what was printed in her books.

Despite her busy study schedule, Angulo had time to enjoy herself. She made a good friend, and together they would research where they wanted to travel each day.

The pair would get on the bus after class and visit palaces, museums or other fun places they heard about; they would eat at interesting places, including a cafe where raccoons wandered among the diners. On weekends, they would take longer trips around the country.

The program came to an end in August, and Angulo received an A. Then she headed back to the U.S., where she is now finishing her fall semester at St. John’s in Santa Fe.

Still, Angulo is keeping up with her Korean studies. She plans to study more over winter break, and is researching how her newfound language skills could help her in the future.