How an ugly pandemic gave one alumna strength and hope

YCIS BJ Louise Park

Many undergraduate students imagine their first year at university to be filled with novel and exciting experiences – making friends, acclimating to a new environment (literally and figuratively) and developing a degree of separation from the family and the familiar.

For students who commenced their tertiary education in 2020 and 2021, things veered off this rosy path with a switch to online learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This trend continues to dominate the education sector.

Louise Park, a YCIS Beijing Class of 2020 graduate, will always have this extraordinary experience to recount. It is a huge part of her life story. When she received an offer to attend the well-regarded Yonsei University Underwood Division in her home country of South Korea, she was ecstatic.  She had hoped to join Yonsei University ever since she started talking to our university guidance counsellor several years ago.


YCIS BJ Eunseo Park with Classmates

“Frankly speaking,” she says, “At first, I chose Yonsei University because of its high ranking reputation.” However, as she researched her future alma mater, a variety of campus opportunities came to light.

“The university hosts 25,000 students from 66 different countries,” she says. Clearly, this will help her foster useful relationships with students from diverse backgrounds. The university programme helps students “adapt to interdisciplinary study methods” that are essential today “when the world expects ideal traits in leaders”.

The fact that Yonsei offers student exchange programmes at other top-tier international universities such as Cornell University and King’s College London was the “cherry on top”.


YCIS BJ  Eunseo Park

Louise’s expectations of a university were informed by the values she was exposed to since she joined YCIS Beijing five years ago. Through Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS for short) offered as part of the YCIS Beijing International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and other courses, she was immersed in a multi-cultural learning environment. Here she could grow her knowledge, gain life skills, and discover her interests and passions while approaching obstacles from various vantage points. This is a keen memory when she recalls her secondary school experience.

During her first semester at Underwood, Louise will study the standard curriculum, designed to introduce students to a broader skill set – critical reasoning, science literacy, and Western civilisation among other areas. She plans to major in International Relations but is open to new possibilities too.

Louise traces her sunny attitude to YCIS Beijing University Counsellor, Mr Jonathan Mellen, who shared a moving personal account with students. The counsellor suffered a major car accident that helped him “become a better version of himself,” she relates. The story inspired Louise to view obstacles differently. “I have been able to look at opportunities first when it comes to experiencing new challenges.”

Now a YCIS alumni, Louise has thoughtful words for the class of 2021. “Continue to study diligently regardless of all situations. I want you to use the time you have until the exam efficiently so that you never have a sense of regret when you think back.”

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