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Interview with Nahyun

Interview with Nahyun


This interview is part of a series of fun interviews where I interview students about their study abroad experiences and the impact it has had on them.

The Interviews Abroad series is also a way to get free compliments from my interviewees. 


In the kitchen of Falkenbergsvägen 25, I’m drinking some lemon green tea brewed by Nahyun Cho. She is a 23-year-old Systems Biology student from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Technically, Cho is 25 years old in Korea due to a cultural system where age is determined by year, not birthdays. This South Korean native plays the bass guitar and is part of a band named GAIA. In this interview, we discuss her study abroad experience as a Korean student and her future plans as a possible scientist.

Liping Huang

Hey Nahyun, thanks for joining me for this interview and for this delicious cup of tea. This is a fun and easy interview for a blog. This is not like a hard interview. So let’s get started:

After the impeachment of South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye, what’s next for the government, and the future of democracy in South Korea?

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Nahyun Cho

Kind of good question but it’s too hard to say. Wait, let me think about it a little bit. I think it will be better for South Korea. Many South Korean young people didn’t want to vote because there was no candidate for us.

Now they want to vote for a new president, so the voting percentage will be higher. It will be good for us. This situation made many Koreans more interested in politics. And reminded them that the country belongs to us.

Liping Huang

How can the United Nations convince China to end its diplomatic relations with North Korea following their human rights and nuclear usage violations?

Nahyun Cho

Hahaha, shut up! I’m not North Korean, how would I know! Can I see the question? Can you say it in an easy way? Is this possible? I have no idea. Kim Jong Un doesn’t want to obey the United Nations, I’m sure.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

Pick your poison! What is your go-to alcoholic drink?

Nahyun Cho

Gin and Tonic! My traditional Korean drink would be makgeolli, or unrefined rice wine.

Liping Huang

What made you want to study abroad? What are some reasons? Academic, personal, career, etc.

Nahyun Cho

Actually, I didn’t need to study abroad. It was technically better to stay in Korea before graduating, but after graduation I would go on my Masters course. So, I worked in a laboratory for a semester.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

The people in the lab who were Masters/Doctorate students said, “Take enough rest before going on a Masters course!” *Laugh* So I thought it was impossible to take a rest in Korea because a professor wanted me to stay and work in laboratory in the next semester. Therefore, I just wanted to go and relax here in Sweden.

I’m not a [risk-taking] person. But this time, I wanted to try new things. I thought if I pushed myself abroad, I would make something. And  I was wondering if I could handle studying abroad. I wanted to try to figure out what I want to do, and what I can do in unfamiliar place.  

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

Why did you choose Sweden and ultimately Kalmar for your study abroad experience?

Nahyun Cho

I actually wanted to go to Australia or New Zealand, just some place with warm weather. Not Europe at first. But my GPA was a little too high to go to Australia. So, I looked for other countries and universities.

Then I found Linnaeus University, but not because of  Sweden. I looked at the university’s name, not the country.

I was so stupid! It was because Linnaeus is a biologist’s name. You know, Carl Linnaeus has the same birthday as me, 23rd of May. *Laugh* Other universities, you apply as part of a specific student exchange university course  program. But with Linnaeus, you can do whatever courses you wanted.

It was really because of the university’s name, really! *Laugh* I didn’t search much. I was in my exam period, so I didn’t want to spend too much time.  

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

How would you describe living in Sweden? Describe your living situation!

Nahyun Cho

I live in Falkenbergsvägen with my lovely floormates. My room is too big for me!

Liping Huang

Compared to your room in South Korea?

Nahyun Cho

In South Korea, I lived with a roommate in my room all the time. I lived in a dormitory for seven years. In high school for three years, I had five roommates in one dorm room. And then in university, I had two or three roommates in the room. It was weird and a little lonely living alone in one room [here in Sweden.] But now it’s good, having that personal space. But sometimes it does get lonely.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

How would you describe the Swedish people?

Nahyun Cho

Swedish people, I heard they are shy. Yeah, it’s true they’re shy., I think they are “domestic,” that the people are family-friendly. Especially men. I usually saw Swedish guys pushing baby carriages and cooking. It is not usual in Korea. And they love their holidays. I mean in Korea, we always work! Even during holidays. Almost all [Swedes] have good English skills. Better than me! And they’re kind too. Especially the people in Kalmar.

Liping Huang

What did you think about meeting international students? What did you expect and then what happened?

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Nahyun Cho

I was nervous at first. Because in Korea, there are not a lot of  chances to meet foreign exchange students so I had no experience meeting them. And I think Europeans are unfamiliar with Asian people. But they were so nice. Now I think it’s just because they didn’t meet a lot of Asian people. But I think they are just wondering about me. I think if they’re staring at me, they’re just curious.

And I really worried about racism. But they didn’t do that. .

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

[Europeans] are very open-minded as well. In South Korea, we don’t talk about sex that much. Even between friends. If I’m very, very familiar with my friends, I would. But Europeans are really open-minded about it.

And  for me it was weird at the pub crawl that was in the beginning of the semester! There was a mission to take a picture doing sex positions.

If we did it in Korea, some people might report them to the university administration. We are not that open-minded, I know!

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

What did you think about the Swedish food?

Nahyun Cho

Not good. Potatoes, they’re good. But everything is too salty for me. I think because in Korea, we have a lot of salty sauces but it’s not from salt. Red pepper paste in Korea, for example. But Swedish food mostly it’s just salt, not spice. In Korea we have different tastes of salty food. So I don’t like just salty food.

Liping Huang

What’s your favorite food?

Nahyun Cho

I love French fries. Not the thin ones, I like the thick Belgian fries. I like it It’s better with onion cream, chili sauce and a beer.

Photo by Ryan / Flickr

Photo by Ryan / Flickr

Liping Huang

What do you plan to do within 5 years?

Nahyun Cho

I will go to take Masters [degree] courses. First I want to graduate, of course. *Laugh* I want to go to take Masters classes and then Doctors. Nothing special! I just want to study more. Boring!

Liping Huang

What specifically would you want to be studying?

Nahyun Cho

I’m more interested in cell biology and plants. I want to do good for human beings. For example, I want to make more productive crops for people who are starving and make medicine or antibodies for humans using plant cells through molecular farming.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

Thinking ten, 15, and then 20 years in the future, where do you see yourself?

Nahyun Cho

In ten years, I would be 35 years old in Korea! *Laugh* Maybe... I want to be married with a good person! Then I will work in a laboratory. But I actually I want to work abroad in developing countries’ laboratories for agriculture.

In 15 years, if I have a lot of money…  I want to build a school in a developing country, or build a new school in Korea. Like a special, different school. Korean school education wants students to just study, study, study. They don’t want students to think about philosophy, or think deeper. I want to make a school for this type of education.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

In 20 years, I want to still do these things steadily. I want to do all this continually. For family, I would want two kids. One adopted kid, and one naturally. I’m not sure. I don’t want to be pregnant twice. I do want the experience of being pregnant. But, I don’t want to quit my job for this. It sounds a little selfish.

Liping Huang

What’s your current favorite K-Drama?

Nahyun Cho

Goblin. It’s the only thing that I’m watching. The actors are so handsome. I’m a big fan of Dong Wook Lee, but he’s not the main actor. The show is a bit like a fantasy.

Goblin / tvN

Goblin / tvN

The protagonist was a warrior in his previous life that killed a lot of people. So god punished him with immortality. The punishment is that since he lives forever, he will see the people he loves die again and again. But if he meets a selected person, that person can kill him. But he falls a love with that person!

Liping Huang

How would you rate [Liping] as a human on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best?

Nahyun Cho

I would say 9.3 because he is sociable. He includes everyone and he’s fun! He has a lot of good ideas like this (referring to the interview).

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

How would you rate me as an interview journalist?

Nahyun Cho

Eight. The minus two is about the order [of the questions]. You should put the hardest questions later!

Liping Huang

How would you rate me as a Swedish person?

Nahyun Cho

Swedish person?! I’m not Swedish! 10 is basically Swedish. Then I would say… one.

Liping Huang

Who’s your favorite KPOP star or band or group? Why do you like them?

Nahyun Cho

I like Black Pink. Their music is good and they’re not that childish. That is important to me. They’re so fancy, even though they’re younger than me.

Liping Huang

Describe how you, as a young-ish student, changed throughout this study abroad experience?

Nahyun Cho

First thing... I had something like an English phobia. Many Koreans have that, but now its improved. Now I don’t mind challenging myself to do new things. Before I came here, I was really worried about failing. To do something wrong. To do something not successfully. And now I’m okay, because I learned about European people.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Korean people are very worried about how other people think about them. I worry a lot about myself in Korea. But Europeans don’t worry much about what others think of themselves. They  love themselves. It’s kind of culture shock. Now I’m trying to love myself more and more. I think that’s something that you told me about, Liping.

Liping Huang

What’s a favorite memory that you can think of from your time abroad?

Nahyun Cho

Anytime I’m cooking something with you guys, my floormates in the kitchen. And dancing at the club.  The Thanksgiving Day was special. That’s where we all cooked together. I cooked dumplings.  I was so full. As you know, I took a pill to help me digest after the dinner. I ate too much!

Liping Huang

What has been your “rock bottom” during your time studying abroad? Describe a time when you felt shitty and miserable.

Nahyun Cho

First day and second day here in Kalmar. I had no wifi, I had no idea where anywhere was. I didn't know where the grocery store was. I didn’t eat the whole day! I didn’t see anybody. At that time, I wanted to go back to Korea.

Liping Huang

What’s something impossible that you wish to do and achieve?

Nahyun Cho

Maybe win the lottery. Actually, I would want to go inside a cell. Like turn into a small person and go inside the cell. Did you see the Magic School Bus? The school bus can change into a smaller bus  and go inside the human body. Kind of like that.

Liping Huang

From your entire experience studying abroad in Sweden, what’s one or multiple pieces of advice you would give a prospective study abroad student?

Nahyun Cho

First, study more English before coming! Also, don’t take a lot of classes. Take your time here in Sweden. If you are coming to Kalmar, don’t need to bring your electric blanket because it’s not that cold inside. And you don’t need to bring a rice cooker! *Laughs*

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

Aside from the cliché that you should live life with no regrets, what are some mistakes or regrets that happened here in Sweden and what you learned from them?

Nahyun Cho

I should have been more active the first time I came here. Meeting more people, going out more, etc. Learn from me!

Liping Huang

How was the cost of living in Sweden? What was really expensive compared to South Korea or cheaper?

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Nahyun Cho

I think groceries is about the same. But here, the potatoes and onions are cheap. But eggplant is fucking expensive. And zucchini is expensive too. Almost all fruits are cheaper than South Korea. But restaurants, and services are pretty expensive. Services like haircuts or fixing stuff. And clothes, they’re expensive and the quality is not that good.

In Korea, pork belly and chicken legs and wings; fatty parts of meat are expensive. But in Sweden, it’s cheap.. The breast or parts without fat are expensive in Sweden. And I think Europeans don’t like to eat meat with bones..

Liping Huang

As an English-learner, what were some of your difficulties navigating study abroad?

Nahyun Cho

Listening, speaking, and writing English! Reading and writing is okay because if I have a long time. But listening and speaking is tricky because with listening I can’t control the time. People or teachers won’t just repeat it just for me. But with reading/writing I can search it or read it again. In Korea, we just focus on reading and writing, not the speaking.

Liping Huang

What is the hottest PC game in South Korea? Because I heard from my sources at lipinghuang.com that it’s not Starcraft anymore.

Nahyun Cho

It’s Overwatch! Before, it was League of Legends. When I was a freshman, a lot of my friends were playing LoL the whole night so they couldn’t wake up. Even though it takes 5 minutes to get to class, they couldn’t come to class.

Blizzard / Flickr

Blizzard / Flickr

Liping Huang

Any final thoughts or words you would like to add?  

Nahyun Cho

-Fuck you!

-Move bitch, get out the way!

-Have fun in Sweden.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Photo by Nahyun Cho. Facebook.

Liping Huang

What are your current plans? Where can people follow you for your next projects or on your social medias? What do you want to plug?

Nahyun Cho

I’m going on about a five week trip around Europe, and I post food, hostel, and architecture information on my blog: blog.naver.com/nhcho93

You can follow my Instagram @cho_nacho

 

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