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Carol Park’s return to Berkeley

Carol Park

When Carol Park ’23 visited Yale on her high school pilgrimage to Northeastern Colleges, she took a photo of herself outside Berkeley’s North Court. Park thought of Yale’s bookbeds and Harkness Tower on his flight back to Nanjing, his hometown in China. She had no idea that Berkeley would someday become her future home – at least, for the next semester; she is a transfer student at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. “It was like fate,” Park recalls. But Park slowly learns that Yale isn’t always made up of yellowing oaks and Gothic north courtyard windows.

“Can I say something wrong?” Park paused, waiting for my insurance to continue. I nodded and moved my phone’s speaker closer to his voice, pulling myself closer to Park on Koffee’s corner sofa. “The dining room is a bit of a letdown for me,” Park snarled.

I laughed – our new friendship filled the air laden with coffee vapor. Then I asked her to tell me what she was really feeling.

“I can tell the truth, can’t I?” The park continued. I was silent.

“The chicken breast. Oh my God. They cook it all kinds of different ways, but they all taste the same. It’s terrifying.

On the other side of the world, Park is called Piao Yadi, her Chinese name. Park is a cultural tapestry. Raised by Korean and Chinese parents about a three-hour drive from Shanghai to Nanjing, China, Park learned English in elementary school and, back in Japan, studied sociology as part of the English course. in Waseda.

But finishing his college degree in one place wasn’t enough for Park. When she heard about Waseda’s opportunity to study abroad, Park didn’t think twice and prayed that she would return to Berkeley’s North Court. And this fall, she found herself knee-deep in Yale’s economics department in her toughest class: Econ 424, “Central Bank,” alongside students from the School of Management.

“I think the culture here is really different from the one in Japan,” Park noted. “More and more people are communicating with strangers – like you can really say hello to anyone you meet on campus here: whether you’ve met them in class or at the library. “

Four flights over the North Court, Park lives with a handful of exchange students from the University of Hong Kong with whom she has lunch in Berkeley and walks alongside “Central Banking”.

“We all share similar cultural backgrounds and our hometowns are all pretty close to each other,” Park said. “When we first came here, no one was a match for us beyond ourselves, so I think this situation brought us together. “

Entry I isn’t the only thing that brought them together. Although she had no previous experience, her sequel joined the figure skating club together.

“The most important lesson I learned from the training is that you have to get rid of the wall,” Park said.

I asked her if she could turn already – to which she immediately joked, “of course not”.

But Park isn’t here for that. Well, maybe learning to twirl would be good, she said. But “getting to know Yalies beyond my classrooms,” Park noted, is what makes the long walks to the whale worth it.

Park is still learning – learning to turn at your own pace; learn to find time to form budding friendships between classes and chicken dinners in the dining hall. We are all still learning. “I don’t know how to allocate my time to all of these things,” Park said, almost frustrated with herself. I replied that I was still learning too.

During Park’s next and final semester at Yale, she hopes to check out some of Yale’s must-sees on her to-do list – watch a famous sunrise at East Rock and meet the legendary Handsome Dan – but also has personal goals. : Take a history class and show off professional dance training alongside one of Yale’s dance clubs.

Reflecting on where his first Yale fall nestled between his disparate identities, Park didn’t hesitate to find greater meaning.

“It gave me the opportunity to experience all these cultures and get involved in a new society,” she said. “I think I will stay abroad for several years [after school] then leave to explore my own cultures again…. It’s quite rare for a person my age to come from a family that is both Chinese and Korean, then go to college in another Asian country and also go to America, ”Park said.

“When you walk into another company, you get to know a lot of different types of people,” Park said. “Sometimes they shock you, but sometimes they surprise you.”