When I moved to Korea for my graduate studies

Ever since my late childhood, I questioned how I could change the world around me to make it a kinder and fairer place to live. Discrimination, stigma, bullying and their influence on individuals were issues that concerned me the most.

When I moved to Korea for my graduate studies, a new environment made me question global social-cultural dynamics and my place in them. During my graduate studies, I often found myself looking at political or social issues from a psychological perspective, which led to extensive self-learning on social psychological topics. My passion for psychology influenced my Master’s thesis, as I did my research on the images of North Korea in the Southern Korean media, built upon the framing theory.

Another important step for me was an internship at the UniKorea Foundation. The internship presumed research on diverse North Korea-related issues, and I developed a specific interest towards humanitarian challenges of North Korea, especially those involving psychological and social statuses of refugees. As I encountered some of the refugees in person, I was amazed by their spiritual strength and the number of hardships they had gone through. On the other hand, I felt that there was much work to do for the enhancement of refugee life quality and emotional well-being.

My current job relates to international development and it aligns with my mission to make the globe a better place. I have been involved in several projects that addressed the issues of technological development. However, I wanted to take a more direct and “humanistic” approach to world issues, so I became an Active Listener at an online volunteer counselling platform. Though online counselling has limitations, it teaches caution and responsibility as it makes you realise the extent to which one word can influence the other person. Overall, it is the greatest reward and joy for me to see that I could help someone cope with their negative emotions.

My experience as a volunteer counsellor coupled with personal concerns on cultural integration processes produced a simple but life-changing insight: I have to pursue professional development in intercultural counselling. I understand that being a counsellor requires a great amount of academic and practical preparation, which is why I am applying for the MPhil in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge. This degree will provide me with the necessary methodological and theoretical foundation for my future career, whereas its conversion add-on will enable my psychological practice.

While studying at Cambridge, I am planning to focus on acculturation issues of immigrant adolescents and their coping techniques. I would like to continue the research in this area, as I hope to pursue my PhD in counselling psychology and then apply my skills in the field, helping immigrant and refugee populations to adapt to their new homes.