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ISM Alumna

ISM Alumna Story

Yudam is a former student at The International School of Moscow. She joined the school in Year 8 and stayed with us for four years. Yudam is currently a student at Seoul National University, College of Liberal Studies. She enjoys reading books, watching movies, going shopping and writing various stories. Today she shares with us her story.

Hello Yudam! We hear you are currently a student at Seoul National University. What year are you in? What is it that you study there? 

Yudam: I'm in my freshmen year in the college of liberal studies, which is the department for students who are planning to study 'widely'. In our first year, students attend a course where we choose a topic and professors from different departments give lectures related to their field of studies regarding the chosen topic, hence allowing the students to understand the world in a broad perspective with a depth of knowledge. After our first semester we also start to attend lessons of the majors we plan to enter later on. Students have to either create their own major or choose a double major in order to graduate. 

Why did you choose liberal studies? 

Yudam: I wanted to continue with my Russian after I returned back to Korea. I studied Russian until A level and got the TORFL level Б1 certificate in Moscow. I decided to go to a foreign language high school where I could choose Russian as my major language. In Korea, the curriculum is divided into the humanities curriculum and the science curriculum, and we only have to choose either one of them. My high school follows the humanities curriculum, so although I wanted to study science and further maths, I didn't have the opportunity to study those subjects. My homeroom teacher told me that the way I can major in science/maths based majors in university is to apply to the college of liberal studies, so it became my dream to enter SNU College of liberal studies, the best university in Korea. My dream is to be a scholar, so I wanted to have a chance of approaching the world both humanities-wise and science-wise, and eventually create a new perspective in order to reveal the principle of our world. 

ISM Alumna - Yudam 2021

How do you find university life/academic work? 

Yudam: I haven't been to any university events yet, due to COVID, but I've met some of my colleagues via ZOOM and am currently in the committee for creating our college jacket. I'm looking forward to all the lessons open to me, and although SNU's academic criteria is high (since it is the top university), I'm sure I'll do my best and get excellent results for my work. 

How is your student life different now from the one at ISM? What are your best memories about ISM? 

Yudam: Academics seems to be the greatest difference. Korea is "notorious" for hard work and the difficulties in achieving a good grade. Especially for a student like me who studied abroad for a few years, catching up with the Korean curriculum while also studying based on the English curriculum was double hard work. I had to study Korean subjects at home while in Moscow, and spent quite a long time understanding the Korean system of academics and activities needed for our CV. In ISM, I had more free time in school compared to Korea, and I had more chances of understanding different cultures and accepting them.   

My greatest memories are mostly daily routines, things I've repeatedly done with my friends. Hiding in corridors in winter due to the coldness and being sent out by teachers, eating snacks in the common room in sixth form, sitting on one of the benches and sunbathing in spring and summer, and lessons that took place every day. The lessons and the conversations in a relaxed atmosphere during the lessons are unchangeable and original memories in my mind that I could never forget. 

ISM Secondary Students 2017

How did ISM prepare you for university? Could you please tell us an insight into your transition to university? 

Yudam: To be honest, ISM didn't prepare me directly for Korea, since there weren't many cases of students who returned back to their home countries and transferred into a completely new curriculum. However, being in ISM opened new chances up for me. I had the opportunity to get access to both curriculums and compare the advantages and disadvantages of both of them, so that I could think deeply about how to proceed with my studies. I got the chance to go to a foreign language school thanks to my knowledge of Russian (which I got from GCSE and A level Russian in ISM), and this opportunity allowed me to study in a great environment with many people supporting me and helping me get into my university. I also attained the strength to overcome situations or hardship at school which no one else has experienced, thanks to my "different" background (studying abroad, not being in a Korean middle school). 

What do you think of A Levels/IGCSE examinations? How was your experience of switching to a different education system after ISM? 

Yudam: They are very different from exams in Korea, but I really appreciated having the chance to experience them. I left ISM in the middle of my A-level course, and the depth of the course helped me understand the value of each field of studies. The courses in the UK helped me gain an insight into studies themselves, independent from the pressure of university entrance like in Korea. Switching from one system to another is definitely tough, but since the UK curriculum allows for a wider variety of subject choice, students who would like to study both humanities-based and science-based subjects would enjoy being a part of the UK curriculum.

ISM Secondary Students 2017 - Yudam

What advice would you give to our current Sixth Form students? What should they be doing now to prepare for higher education? 

Yudam: In my personal opinion, Mathematics and Korean are the most important subjects needed to be prepared. Students won't have a lot of time studying every Korean subject possible, so it would be better to focus on Korean maths and Korean language. They are probably the toughest subjects in high school, so it would be hard to catch up on those subjects if they aren't prepared beforehand. Also, it would be great if students learnt another language (Russian especially) and gain qualifications, since they would be able to get into foreign language high schools and get a good grade, allowing them to plan on entering high ranking universities. If they aren't thinking of the "foreigners-only" route which is very hard to take (there would be harsh competition going on), students would have to think of which type of high school they need to be in, based on their abilities and tactics. Getting good grades in Sixth form is also vital, but focusing on the Korean curriculum would also be important for students planning to get into Korean universities. Most of all, students should try not to rush and enjoy their life in ISM! It is a precious experience and memory for us all. 

How do you see your future? What career path do you envision for yourself? 

Yudam: I have many dreams and plans. Mainly, I see myself as a scholar studying pure science. If I get to continue working on my Russian, I could also work as a professional translator. I'm thinking of writing books as well, and I would love to see myself as a continuously hard-working, always-learning zealous individual. 

Written by Yudam Son, February 2021