Profile: Stephanie Kim

Second year student Stephanie Kim has lived in many countries around the world, and with that comes a handful of international expereicnes and important life lessons. Read on to find out more. 

HerCampus Waseda: Where have you lived before?

Stephanie Kim: I have lived in Senegal, Belgium, Cambodia, Korea, Japan, the United States, India and Pakistan which is where my parents live now. I’ve moved around a lot because my dad is a diplomat.

HCW: Which place that you have lived in has impacted you the most?

SK: Cambodia impacted me the most in a positive way. I was exposed to a third world country and I have seen people who suffer. Yet it’s the poor people who give the most and are the happiest. They care a lot for others and help others. I think volunteering in Cambodia helped me find my love of interacting with other people. The place that was hardest to adjust for me was Tokyo. I had lived in so many environments, but I felt so unhappy and lonely here because it was such a rushed and independent lifestyle. It might have been even harder because in Texas, they have a your family is my family mindset. But to spin it in a positive way, I learned how to become more independent and objective and to learn how to say no. I guess it’s the truth of society that you can’t control others and that your feelings can’t be reciprocated.

HCW: Is there a person that has impacted your life?

SK: My dad. It took a long time to connect emotionally [with him] because there was always [a] boundary to understanding each other, since he didn’t really understand my identity crisis because he had a home country. I kind of crashed in university, and that’s when he realized that him and my brother and I are different from him, and that we have different values. He then became more involved and gave me advice. There are so many qualities that I respect my dad for, [such as having] a unique life view, and he is such a loving person. I also love how he always dives deeply and studies the countries that he works for. 

HCW: Do you have any future plans?

SK: Since middle school, I’ve always wanted to make creative public advertisements. I then interned for the UN in Pakistan, and it was a big responsibility since I was in charge. This made me question whether I really want this job or not. I’m going to try and explore and find my strengths so I can work and develop. Right now, I’m looking into content creating and marketing. But another thing I would like to do in the future is to be where I can to help people that I care about.

HCW: Why did you decide to come to Waseda?

SK: To be completely honest, I came to Waseda because school in the US was really expensive, and my dad wanted me to try Waseda since it’s a good school. Also, if I’m in Japan I can do part-time jobs, where in the US you can’t. Since SILS is a place where you can try new things, it was a good place for me because I was unsure of my future and I wanted to test the waters to make sure what I wanted was right. I have also lived in Kobe before, so I was familiar with Japan and I thought coming to Waseda would be good to pick up Japanese again.

HCW: If you see someone going through an identity crisis, what kind of advice would you give them?

SK: It took me a while to recognize that I even had an identity crisis, and it’s really hard because it’s difficult to explain how it feels. You feel like an outcast but yet you want a sense of belonging. It’s so personal that even your parents don’t understand the struggle. At first I wasn’t proud of not having a place to call home, but I was once told that means that I am able to make any place my home. So I would say, don’t limit yourself and aim for the lifestyle that you want. I also didn’t have friends who I grew up with who I could see all the time, but I learned that I should be grateful for the friends that still keep in touch with me despite the distance and time difference. No matter how lonely I am , I have my old friends that I can hit up anytime through social media.  I also think that it’s important to be open-minded and not limit yourself, and remember all of the experiences that you’ve had. I saw Cambodian children doing drugs to forget their suffering, and I think that it’s important to remember and cherish those experiences from around the world.