There are many reasons for embarking on an academic study abroad program, but Dave Mathews (’10, management) had a unique reason for wanting to study in Seoul, South Korea: he was born there.
Mathews first visited San Diego with during a family vacation. Mathews says he fell in love with the city and decided to pursue his management degree at San Diego State University.
During his junior year in the spring of 2009, he got the opportunity to study at Chung-Ang University in his birthplace of Seoul, South Korea. “I thought it was about time I learned more about my native culture,” Mathews said. “There happened to be the right program available and I jumped on it. The process wasn’t too difficult at all.”
Although he took a class to learn “enough of the language to get around”, the classes he took at Chung-Ang were taught in English. “I was the only native English speaker in most my classes,” Mathews recalled.
Upon his return from South Korea, Mathews realized he had made “one of the best decisions I made during college,” however, he did notice a lack of online interaction among study abroad students. So he and a friend, Michael Flatt (’09, management), founded Students Gone Global to overcome that issue.
Students Gone Global is an interactive website that allows students who have participated, or plan to participate, in international study programs the opportunity to network, share experiences and answer each other’s questions. The two budding entrepreneurs launched the site in 2012 and are currently reviewing expansion and marketing plans.
In addition to co-founding and being chief executive officer of Students Gone Global, Mathews is also the project manager for the North County Leadership Team at Kaiser Permanente. He felt that studying abroad helped him during his job search. “I was able to relate and tie my study abroad experience into the majority of job interviews that I had," Mathews said.
A global experience
Mathews strongly recommends studying overseas to any student willing to embark on a global experience.
“It’s scary to leave familiar surroundings for the unknown, but I promise, you will come back realizing you made the right decision,” he said. “Living abroad for an extended period of time allowed me to develop as a person and grow my perspective of the world.”