Where in the World is Miami Wednesday: South Korea

Sinait poses near an overlook, Namsan Tower visible in the distance

Name: Sinait Sarfino

Year: Senior

Major: Diplomacy and Global Politics and East Asian Languages and Cultures

Education Abroad Program: Miami Exchange: Korea University

In this week's Where in the World is Miami Wednesday, we meet Sinait Sarfino, a senior Diplomacy and Global Politics and East Asian Languages and Cultures major, who studied abroad in South Korea during Spring 2021.

What organizations are you involved with at Miami?

I'm currently the Political Action Chair for the Black Student Action Association, an organization that has been like a second home for me here at Miami. I'm involved in this organization because I want to have the same impact that BSAA had on me when I first came to Miami, on future incoming students. My goal is to make every Black student feel comfortable safe and supported at Miami University.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your experience?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected my experience by hindering my initial plans of studying abroad in China. However, I found this to also be beneficial as it allowed me to study abroad in South Korea. Going to South Korea was something that I wanted to do since high school but after coming to Miami and pursuing Chinese, I put those plans on the back burner.

Because of COVID-19, I had two choices: go to South Korea or stay in Oxford and miss out on an amazing study abroad experience. So, I chose my childhood dream. My decisions led to me experiencing endless moments of absolute joy, revelation, and self-realization.

Why did you choose your study abroad program?

I chose this program because South Korea has always been somewhere that I had dreamed of going to. I just never thought that I would get the chance to do so in college. So when the chance presented itself, I capitalized on the opportunity, and the next thing you know I'm eating Gukbap in Hapjeong, South Korea.

This was all possible thanks to the help and guidance I received from the Education Abroad office, specifically from Karla Guinigundo and Kevin Fitzgerald.

I'm very thankful that I was able to have and choose this experience, thanks to the support of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. The Gilman Scholarship played a big part in funding my study abroad experience. 

What did you study in your program?

For my degree, I'm studying Diplomacy and Global Politics and East Asian Languages and Cultures, with a concentration in Chinese. While in Korea, I studied East Asian politics and the Korean language.

Sinait in Jeju, walking near the shore
Sinait and friends at a traditional Korean market
Sinait poses in traditional gown indoors

What were the coolest places you visited on your program?

  • Jeju Island, a beautiful island in South Korea with the most crystal blue waters.
  • Gyeongbok Gung, which is Gyeongbok palace! The largest palace in South Korea.
  • Namsangol Hanuk Village, where we were able to play traditional South Korean games and learn the tea ceremony.
  • Cheongdeok Gung, the second royal villa built after Gyeongbok Gong
  • Bukchon Hanok Village, which is an amazing mixture of historical Korean architecture and more modern architecture.
  • Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, full of the most breathtaking scenery, architecture, and beaches.

What was your favorite part of your program?

My favorite part was getting to travel to other parts of South Korea.

How has the study abroad experience changed you?

This study abroad experience greatly contributed to my definition of self. What I mean by this is that, through this study abroad experience, I was able to truly find who I am and the things that define me as a person. I left South Korea, confident and with goals that, in the past, I struggled to define.

Where in the World is Miami Wednesday is a news article series that features Miami students studying abroad/away and international students. Catch us next week as we continue to travel around the world to feature the amazing opportunities that Miami students are taking and the experiences our alumni have had since graduating!

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