Hello My name is Alonta (A Lon Tay),
I am from Pittsburgh PA, I am an alumnae of Carlow University where I earned my bachelors in Health Care Administration. I currently work as a home health aid. When I am not doing that, I love taking pictures and listening to Kpop Music. I also love to go to different places when I can. I have been to Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, Washington D.C, etc. My first trip overseas was in 2016 to Korea through a program called USAC. it was amazing and I would love to go back.
Why did you choose this program?
It was recommended to me from my Study Abroad Advisor. He showed it to me because it was the one of the only program that provided a Korea as the host country. I have been interested in going to Korea since I started watching Korean dramas in 2012. It was a new location in Korea that they were providing for the first times. I decided to Gwangju because the potential of being in Korea was enough for me and when I looked it up it looked to beautiful. It made me excited to go there.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Firstly my advisor assisted me with the application and essay to ensure that I was a prospect for selection to go on the trip. He also help me fill out scholarships for financial aid.
Secondly I was giving a program advisor and he provided me with the essential paperwork that I needed like contact information for airport pick up and also when the other program I choose became full he gave me this as an alternative to ensure that I went on a trip to the host country I wanted to go to.
Thirdly, I wasn't selected for scholarship but I was working at the time so I used money from my income to pay for the program, and I applied for a travel loan, and my family provided me with money as well. I had everything that needed a month ahead so that when I check I could make sure I wasn't missing anything. I decided to go a couple months before the deadline so I had a short planning period. I have to organize everything within a constraint in time. I had to come up with thorough plan.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say do not limit yourself to your own prejudices and bias. there are many things that you could hear about a place before you visit there. but once you get there it is completely different then what you expect. of course there are a lot those ideas that come from the media, movies and television. always keep yourself open-minded. Life is an adventure, you never know where it will take you!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
A typical day for me was one class than lunch with some of the people that I met, another class. than typical dinner or a activity with other students. The first time went out was to get a sims card for my phones and we walked across campus and went into town and they had a lot of smaller mom and pop shops for different things like accessories and boutiques for clothes. We went to Gyeongju and Busan and went to a mud festival. They were really fun activities and provided there own unique experience.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was isolating myself from doing anything and not meeting new people. IMy friend invited to a lot of different outing. I am a picky eater and I don't like eating a lot of different foods. but when we mostly tired different restaurants together and I got to try a lot of different food. I thought trying it once is enough and if I don't like it I will not eat it again. Surprisingly I liked a lot of the different foods they had even if it was spicy. I through actually going abroad it has made me more adventurous in food and conversations. I became less picky when eating than what I was before.
What is a memory that is unforgettable to do?
One memory that is unforgettable to me is when we went to our buddies house for a homestay. It was different than living in the dorm rooms. we actually talked about going to our buddies house but we weren't sure if it could happen and he invited us to come over one weekend. when we got there they had cooked a feast for us with meat and a lot of Korean side dished. The father grilled and cut the meat for us. we laughed and talk with them. They told us about their family. I really appreciated the fact they took the time to cook and talk with us. Even though it rained on that day, it still was a very special day for me. one of my ultimate favorite experiences in Korea besides celebrating my birthday.