Tell us about your background…
I grew up in South Korea and studied there until (the Korean equivalent of) Year 7 before moving to Singapore. As I had spent so much time in Korea, English was particularly challenging for me. I was barely able to communicate. I studied in Singapore in an American educational system for a year and half during which I managed to develop my English language skills to the point where I could compete with native speakers. I ended up making great friends and had a blast there, but for the same reason we came to Singapore (my father’s job) we then had to move to Vietnam.
I studied briefly in ISHCMC because it offered the course I was studying, but when I had to start the IB Diploma I decided to move to BIS. That was a very pivotal decision that I think has turned out very well for me. I started studying in BIS as one of the three new students in the beginning of Year 12 and I managed to finish the entire two year programme.
How did you find the IB Diploma Programme?
If I were to choose one adjective to describe the IB Diploma, it would be “enlightening”.
The one thing that stood out for me was that this programme tried to make its students critically-thinking intellectuals. We had the opportunity to analyse and criticise every piece of information and opinion we encountered, and got to think for ourselves and form our own opinions around almost every topic, from Literature to History, Economics and so on.
There was no centrally determined agenda or pre-existing popular belief, all conclusions were for us to establish ourselves. Throughout these two years the IBDP changed the way I perceive the world almost entirely. It was a very enthralling and captivating learning experience that I’m very glad I did not miss out on.
But I do have to mention how challenging the whole thing was. It was so challenging that it required not only determination but also some sort of willpower to pull it all together. This is partly because I had to learn Korean A, English A and History (which are all quite heavy in terms of workload) but at some point I almost thought the whole thing was ridiculous. It was all worth it in the end though!
How did you feel when you received your IB Diploma results?
I’m finally done with this!
What were your biggest achievements during your time at the school?
I’m particularly proud of my Extended Essay, Maths HL IA and Physics HL IA. For Physics I disliked the idea of having to carry out experiments so I tried to be creative and ended up investigating into the black hole in the centre of our galaxy. It was an extremely fun experience that spurred a lot of insightful discussions with Mr Luke.
For Mathematics I similarly dreaded having to do real life experiments so I delved into the theoretical side and wrote a paper where I created a method of 3-dimensional differentiation and experimented with it. I think it turned out to be a pretty unique piece of work that I’m proud of.
My Extended Essay was on History and its most special aspect for me was just that I had managed to turn it into a finished product after putting so much hard work into it. Since the topic was heavily related to Korea it became an academically enlightening experience as well, but I think it’s just a great experience to see months of work finally come to fruition.
Oh and I’m also quite proud that I made it out of Korean, English and History alive in one piece. That was A LOT of work!
What are your goals in the future?
I’m hoping to attend university in Korea, to study more and prepare myself for the future. In the long term I simply want to be the greatest I can be.
In what ways do you think your education at BIS HCMC prepared you for your future?
The most obvious one is that I can’t imagine any Korean university being tougher than the IB Diploma. Most of the things I’ve mentioned so far stands here as well; my whole perspective on the world has changed and the knowledge I have gained so far thanks to BIS and IBDP will without a doubt be a great asset in the future. I’m just sincerely grateful for everything the school has done for me so thank you.
Do you have any tips for students currently studying the IBDP?
For students about to undergo the IBDP, you will most definitely go through the same crazy struggle I’ve gone through, but stay strong and absorb everything the programme has to offer you as much as possible, and be the best that you can be because IB really can be a life-changing experience.
Joshua Chang, Class of 2017
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