Austin Sarmiento, Class of 2023
Major and Minor:
Biological Sciences | Business Administration
Program and Location:
Yonsei University, Biology | Seoul, South Korea
What inspired you to study abroad?
I had always been a person who never liked to venture out of my comfort zone and during the COVID lockdowns I felt it would be a good opportunity to try something new. I also felt that my social skills were not good enough for my post college career and felt that the best way to improve my social skills was to put myself in a situation that forced social interaction. So I decided to study abroad in a country across the world with a completely different language and culture to challenge myself.
What was your favorite experience abroad?
I would say one of the most standout moments was hiking up the highest point on Jeju Island and waiting for the sunset. The moment stood out as while waiting for the sun to set, there was groups of people of various nationalities all gathered up together looking out patiently. It was truly surreal to be there realizing everyone on that peak was far from home yet we had all managed to gather together to view that sunset.
How did your experience abroad add to your academic journey at Rutgers?
Studying abroad allowed me to build lifelong relationships and connections with people across the world from every corner of the globe. Being able to learn about different cultures and countries while abroad allowed me to become a far better student as I was able to take in various viewpoints. This improved my critical thinking and communication skills that will forever be apart of my future career.
What advice would you offer to DLS students who are interested in studying abroad?
I highly recommend looking up the professors that will likely be teaching the classes you are thinking of taking. I originally was only going to take core classes while abroad but when I found out that the majority of the life science professors had graduated from either Ivy League schools or a school of similar prestige, I decided to take life science courses. I was not disappointed as both professors I had would consistently share stories and examples from their research and student days that made otherwise complex topics relatively simple. Another big piece of advice I would offer is to say yes to as many activities as possible. The majority of my strongest connections that I built abroad originated simply from saying yes to someone in the school group chat asking something as simple as someone to go café hopping with or as big as someone asking if anyone wanted to go on a hike/ beach trip.