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Interview with a 3-Campus Program Exchange Student

The Journey from Japan to Korea to Hong Kong


Violette Marie Cambon is a master’s student from University of Geneva. She is participating in the 3-Campus program which allowed her to spend a semester at Keio University, Underwood International College, and The University of Hong Kong. During her semester at Underwood International College, Violette not only benefitted from extensive academic courses but also enjoyed exploring Seoul ranging from Han River to Hongdae.


Q. Please introduce yourself.


A. Hello, my name is Violette Marie Cambon, my friends call me Vio. I am a master’s student of University of Geneva and I am in the three-campus program. I spent a semester in Keio University, and I am spending a semester here at Yonsei University and then I am going to Hong Kong where I am going to study for two weeks and then do my internship there.


I come from Valence, southeast of France. Valence is in between Lyon and Marseille, closer to Lyon. So back in France I had to learn English and choose from German, Italian or Spanish, but I wanted to learn a language somewhat unrelated to French so I chose to go to a high school that taught Japanese. I wish I was as good as I should be at Japanese, but I forgot some of it during the year when I joined a volunteer program. I resumed studying Japanese at the University of Geneva.


In total, I have spent a year and half in Japan. As an undergraduate student, I spent a year as an exchange student in Japan four years ago. My major as an undergraduate student was Japanese language within a business context. I studied translations English to French and Japanese to French. As a master’s degrees student, my major is Asian studies and at Keio University, I took some business and law courses.


Now, I am also learning Korean here, taking 2 hours of KLI classes every day. It is intense, but it is the best way to learn a language. Since I am staying here only for a month, I want to learn now, where I have Korean teachers that can correct my mistakes.


Q. Tell us about the 3-Campus Program that you are taking part in.


A. My major as a master’s student is Asian studies and so the 3-campus program was a perfect match for me. One of my teachers at Geneva told us about the 3-campus program. I think it is mainly directed toward undergraduate students or undergrad students who want to take a year off before going to grad school. But of course, at first I hesitated to think whether is it really wise? I was planning on finishing grad school and getting a job to earn money. Still, studying a year in three different countries, in great universities like Keio, Yonsei and HKU? It was just such a huge opportunity. After all, I was an Asian Studies major and it was made sense to go. I thought that this might be my last time travel and study as an exchange student. I knew how it was from my undergraduate exchange experience in Japan. As far as I know, this year, I am the only graduate student who is in this 3-campus program for a full year because many students choose to go on a half year program. Though it is very intense, I think it is totally worth it.


Q. Which courses are you taking?


A. I am taking two Korean Language Institute courses, Korean history, Masculinity and Modernity by professor Helen Lee and RDQM by professor Howard Kahm. I initially wanted to take fewer courses but the courses were way too interesting, I thought “I need this in my life”. I knew it would be hard but I think it will be useful.



Q. What do you want to do in the future? In what way do you think your UIC education contributes to your future plans?


A. Well for now, I have to finish my exams which end on June 19th and then I have to leave for Hong Kong on the 22nd. Then, when I go back [to Geneva], I would have to write my thesis and finish my Masters first.


From my UIC education, I have gained so much regarding my career path.


I was not so sure about what I wanted to do in the future, but now through the experience I acquired, I have developed more interest in studying and becoming an educator.


And as a first step, I could set the topic for my master’s thesis thanks to my UIC education. I was so inspired by so many great professors at Keio and Yonsei that I can see myself doing something like this. The professors are so interesting and they are so good at what they do because they have so much experience.


For my master’s thesis, I think I will investigate the relationship between gender and ecology in Japan. I think I would never have come to this conclusion without the masculinity class of Professor Helen Lee.




Q. How has life been for you in Korea? 


A. I did a bit of traveling in Korea and I like Itaewon, Hongdae and Han River. But it’s really hard traveling around because the classes I am taking at UIC are great but also very challenging. So, my schedule is packed. My mom called me and she said I sounded so tired. I just told her that it’s because there’s so much stuff to do here. I love it here.


Q. Have you taken part in any UIC or Yonsei-wide activities? Clubs, special guest lectures, akaraka, etc.


A. I haven’t taken part in too many school activities, but I did go to the special guest lecture “Nature in Modern Confucianism: Ecological Motifs in Kang Youwei’s Great Community” by Professor Ban Wang from Stanford University. It also inspired me to come up with the topic for my master’s thesis.

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