Photos courtesy of Grace Eberhart

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Grace Eberhart, ’23, hopes to study abroad in South Korea

Grace Eberhart, ’23, is a freshman at University of California, Irvine. She is majoring in Global Cultures.

Q: Why did you choose to attend UC Irvine?

A: My uncle went to UC Irvine for college, so I was pretty familiar with the place, and my grandparents live near Irvine so I thought it would be perfect. I also visited the campus a long time ago when I was a little kid and I really liked it. It’s also not too far from my family, which is important to me. 

Also, UC Irvine is one of the colleges that offers students the opportunity to study abroad in Korea as well as Korean language classes, which is one of the things I was really looking forward to in college.

Q: What classes are you taking?

A: For our first quarter, they wanted us to take General Education (GE) courses, so I’m taking a Humanities Core class which consists of both a lecture and a seminar. I’m also taking an International Relations class which has both a discussion and lecture class. 

Humanities Core is part of my major requirements and the International Relations is a GE course. There’s eight categories for GE courses and they have an entire list of classes under those that they want us to take. 

My lecture classes are pretty big — a little more than 80 students, while my discussion classes are around 20 students. 

Q: Why are you majoring in Global Cultures?

A: I grew up traveling a ton with my family and that’s something I really like doing. I’ve been to many places, like South Korea, Germany, Iceland and Switzerland. Before COVID-19 hit, I went to France, and this past summer I went to the Grand Cayman Islands with my family.

Because we’ve traveled to all these different countries and experienced these different cultures, the Global Cultures study is all relevant to me. I get an actual understanding of these cultures and how they interact, which is pretty relevant to my own life and to the world around me. 

I also enjoy learning different languages, and the Global Cultures major has a proficient-level foreign language requirement. I took Spanish while I was in high school and I studied Korean for two years through an online course. Next quarter, I’m going to pick up Korean again at UC Irvine. I hope that in my junior year, I can go study abroad in South Korea. 

Q: Have you made any plans regarding studying abroad yet?

A: We’re supposed to plan a year in advance, so if I want to go in my junior year, I have to start planning everything next year. 

They have a UCI Study Abroad Center, which has held a couple of informational events on campus, so I’ve met with them a lot and have been able to ask them a couple of questions. I have a general idea of how the application process works and where I want to go. 

I’ll basically be going to regular school, but in Korea. Many of the classes will be taught in English, but hopefully by then I’ll be proficient in Korean so I can just get around the city.

This is a chance for me to reconnect with my roots, since I was adopted from Seoul, Korea.

Q: How was the transition from Country Day to college?

A: The first couple of weeks were a little weird being so far away from home, but I feel like I adjusted pretty well. I found some friends and my class load for this quarter is not too bad. 

I think Country Day prepared me for college. My courses require a lot of writing, so my English classes with Ms. Bauman really helped a lot to prepare me for all kinds of writing. 

Q: How is the housing situation?

A: There’s two different housing complexes: Middle Earth and Mesa Court. I’m in Mesa Court and apparently there’s 5,000 students just within Mesa Court, which is crazy.

They have separate dorm “houses” within Mesa Court, and I’m in the farthest one from campus. It’s so far from everything, and the walk to the cafeteria is 10 minutes. I got used to it though; I mean, it’s good exercise. 

My roommate and I get along well and we go out to grab food together pretty often. We also have this hour right before bed where we just scroll through Instagram and if we find something super funny, we’ll show it to each other. I even gave her a haircut at the beginning of the year.

Q: What’s your favorite part about college?

A: I joined a Japanese Karate club at my school because I used to do karate back at home and I wanted to continue that. It’s held in the UCI Campus Recreation where they hold a lot of sports and clubs. 

This club is how I get away from my studies and I get to meet other people outside of my normal classes. It’s just fun, and I enjoy karate a lot. It’s a great experience, and everyone is super nice and makes it fun to learn.

A lot of the stuff that the sensei teaches is in Japanese, so I’m learning both the sport and the language, which is very cool. 

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2024?

A: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Although it might sound cliche, if you hold yourself back, you’ll only regret it later. I feel like going out of your comfort zone, even just a little bit, really helps, and you’ll learn so many new things. 

Just like I joined the Japanese Karate Club — that was something I wasn’t entirely sure about at first, but I realized I needed to meet new people. Now that I’ve joined the club, I’ve connected with so many interesting people and have learned a lot from them.

By Anisha Mondal

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