THIS SEMESTER, 16 students arrived at Yonsei University for the second leg of their year-long exchange under the 3 Campus program. In this project pioneered by three universities, students take a fall semester at Keio University, a spring semester at Yonsei University, and a summer course at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) followed by a six-week internship*. Over the years, the program has grown to include students from universities outside Asia. What makes the 3 Campus experience unique and what are the students’ experiences like? The Yonsei Annals interviewed 15 members and alumni** of the program, including Professor Joseph Shaules from Keio and Professor Howard Kahm from Yonsei.
Voices from the recent cohorts
Annals: What made you apply for 3 Campus?
Jessica (Yonsei’20): I was interested because of the opportunity to go to both Japan and Hong Kong. I also knew that 3 Campus gives you a tight-knit group of friends from different institutions.
Ayako (Keio’20): As a student of Chinese politics, I was interested in learning East Asian affairs from different perspectives; the summer internship was also a precious opportunity to experience working abroad.
Melanie (Geneva’20): I spent a year in Korea before and I really liked it here. Having spent a semester in Japan, I now have a more nuanced understanding coming back to Korea.
Annals: What does 3 Campus mean to you?
Lianne (HKU’17): Community. I like how 3 Campus is unique from other exchanges; I had friends from everywhere, but we already share this sense of belonging and bonded as a cohort. This is not something you would get in other exchange programs.
Etinosa (Cornell’17): As an American, I was exposed to East Asian historical narratives very different from the perceptions back home. Having met friends from across the world, I realized that we were not as different as I thought.
Ye-jin (Yonsei’19): A year of experiencing different environments together with multicultural friends leads to lifelong friendships, which is an invaluable experience you could never get anywhere else.
So Hyun (Yonsei’19): This is one of the best exchange programs you can get from an undergraduate level; 3 Campus has been the best year in my student life***.
Ango (King’s College London’20): I really enjoyed our first day tour in Tokyo and our subsequent adventures discovering the local culture and cuisine together; this experience made my expectations for food much higher!
Comments of Instructors
Annals: As instructors of 3 Campus students, what are your thoughts on the program?
Shaules: I have been teaching Crossing Borders: Adapting to Japan and Adapting to the World since time immemorial, and 3 Campus students seem quite motivated to me. The message of my class is that “the experience you get from living abroad depends on your choices.” Just physically being in another country does not guarantee deep experiences; one of the biggest challenges of studying abroad is getting “local” experiences. 3 Campus gives you the opportunity to “be local” in 3 places, and students from each university would take turns to host their counterparts. My favorite thing about 3 Campus is that it helps students get out of the dichotomous comparison between home and the host country; having lived in multiple places, they can triangulate and look at cultural differences from a whole new richer multidimensional perspective.
Kahm: 3 Campus is a great program and I wish I had this in my undergraduate years. If I had the opportunity to do 3 Campus, I would have done it in a heartbeat. I already knew that the quality of 3 Campus students is excellent. They are a self-selecting population that is intellectually curious and somewhat adventurous. In teaching Modern History of Korea, I decided to take advantage of that and pursue a seminar-style class format. To me, it was interesting to see the different interpretations of Korean history by students from various backgrounds; it was doubly interesting since they all had the previous experience in Keio.
Annals: How would you describe the impacts of the 3 Campus program?
Shaules: When you talk about “intercultural understanding” or “global village,” it sounds like a big phenomenon—but it is actually a personal process that happens inside each individual. 3 Campus lets students have deep relationships with others in the program, which then leads to deep understanding.
Kahm: On average, every 3 Campus group is really close. When I took 3 Campus students on field trips, I could see the tight bonds between them from their shared experiences adjusting to new environments together. You don’t really see that in my normal classes.
Annals: Looking back, how has your 3 Campus experience impacted you?
Satoshi (Keio’10): 3 Campus gave [me] a sense of community among the different countries and cultures; my cohort-mates were like brothers and sisters, and I still feel the same way after ten years. It taught me what it means to be an “international” person and I developed a greater regional identity. When I pursued further studies in Geneva, I discovered that I have a much better understanding of my continent compared to other Asian students. 3 Campus is the foundation of my career in Asia and continues to guide my professional development today.
Geneva (HKU’11): Everything adds up. I took a course “Contemporary Global Issues and the role of the UN” at Keio, and in Tokyo I had the chance to visit Global Festa Tokyo, which is billed as the largest “international co-operation event in Japan.” These experiences among others inspired me to work for the United Nations (UN) even more than before. I eventually entered the UN through the Young Professionals Programme. This story still gives me goosebumps sometimes; I moved to work at the UN Headquarters last year, where I reunited with my best friend from Yonsei, who I met through this program from ten years ago! Both of us work for the UN now and we live three minutes away from each other. My professional, academic, and personal journeys were somehow enriched by participating in the 3 Campus!
Thuy (Yonsei’13): 3 Campus was one of the highlights of my time at Yonsei, it was absolutely wonderful. I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in academic subjects while also cultivating new interests. I am now a law student at the University of Sydney, and I still vividly remember doing a presentation on the impact of the rule of law on East Timor for an international development course at Keio. My 3 Campus year gave me a nuanced appreciation for the similarities and uniqueness of East Asian societies. For example, in the summer I learnt about the rule of law in Hong Kong and its significance to the people. It is what makes this city beautiful.
Annals: Anything you would like to tell potential 3 Campus students?
Jen (Yonsei’19): It’s a shame not a lot of my schoolmates knew about this program. Hearing my experiences, a lot of them told me that they wish they had applied for 3 Campus. During my year I created a “3 Campus life by Jen” social media series**** to advertise the program*****.
Hee-won (Yonsei’18): During exchange it is easy to want to stick with people from the same school and nationality, but you should also try to make local friends and really put yourself out there! 3 Campus makes it easier in the sense that there are group activities which puts you together with your cohort, unlike other exchange programs.
*The Hong Kong section is cancelled this year.
**3 Campus students and alumni are designated by home institution and year. e.g. Truston (HKU’20) is from the University of Hong Kong in the 2019-2020 cohort.
***So Hyun vlogged her 3 Campus experiences over her year abroad, you may find her videos on her YouTube channel 조소하다SH Cho.
****Feel free to reach out to Jen on Instagram @missthiccmood for more information on her 3 Campus life.
*****Although 3 Campus is exclusively for Underwood International College students, all students are more than welcome to interact with their 3 Campus counterparts.