Wananga landing Wananga landing
Student story

Sae Won Chung

20 July 2023

"I really enjoyed the world-class experience with lots of different international key players in EU studies..."


As a result of his research in European Studies at UC, Sae Won launched his career in academia, and is currently an Assistant Professor with Pukyong National University in Korea.

Sae Won had initially chosen to complete undergraduate studies in New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa) for its quality of education and affordable fees. UC was the first university he applied to that gave him an enrolment offer, and looking back now, Sae Won says that UC was also the best choice because it "provided lots of opportunities and finally led to my dream job — getting a permanent academic job".

"Foundation Studies gave me a good first impression of UC," he says. "Teachers from this programme helped me a lot and taught me how to adjust my studies at the University. I also thoroughly enjoyed the clean and green campus environment and research-oriented atmosphere."

His Arts degree had a language focus, with Sae Won completing courses in French, German and his major Russian, along with Linguistics.

‘"During my bachelor years, I had a passion for learning European languages and cultures," he says. "I enjoyed everything – every course I studied, each lecture, was stimulating and exciting. I enjoyed diverse lectures about the different areas of Linguistics—sociolinguistics, historical linguistics and theoretical linguistics (syntax, phonology, and lexical theory). For modern languages, lecturers and tutors led me to learn and improve my language knowledge."

With Russian being his particular interest, Sae Won went onto Honours study learning advanced Russian language and semiotic and lexical studies, with his research comparing the novel and film versions of Oblomov.

When it came to his PhD, Sae Won investigated the EU’s representation in South Korea’s media. His areas of interest looked into the EU’s global perceptions (particularly in South Korea), soft powers and critical discourse analysis.

Sae Won was able to study his PhD with UC’s National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE), with the help of an EUCN Course Fee Scholarship.

"I wanted to learn more about Europe as a region and NCRE fosters students with lots of opportunities (internships, course fee scholarships and travel grants). Also, as an international student, the New Zealand government allowed me to study with a domestic rate, so I believed this was  an excellent chance for me.

"The most valuable part of my time at NCRE was networking and seminars conducted by EU experts and elites. I truly enjoyed the world-class experience with lots of different international key players in European and European Union Studies (EU and its Member States diplomats to New Zealand, renowned scholars in that field) and students from all over the world (from China, Russia, Latin America and Europe). Your classmates will become a valuable global professional network in the future."

Throughout his studies, Sae Won was a student mentor to help international students settle at UC, and also tutored a Korean language summer course.

"The summer course was the most valuable experience for me during my PhD years. Summer courses are intense, but it is worth taking in order to get your degree on the fast track."

He had also stayed in UC accommodation while he was here, in both University Hall and later Ilam Apartments, which he especially enjoyed about life at UC. "I felt like the room in Ilam Apartments was a home away from home," he says.

All in all, Sae Won looks back fondly on his time here in New Zealand and at UC.

"The nine years of my life as an international student was indeed one of my most valuable experiences," he says. "It was significantly precious for me to look back on my years in Aotearoa. I absolutely recommend others to study in New Zealand."

Shortly after graduating UC, Sae Won went on to become a Research Professor with Jean Monnet EU Centre of Excellence at Korea University in Seoul. His role involved teaching EU studies courses to students, and also managing a number of EU project researching Asia-Europe relations in partnership with many other universities in Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, including UC, with a research grant from the European Commission (Jean Monnet Networks).

Now teaching with Pukyong National University, Sae Won looks forward to contributing more to the field of European and EU Studies and his students’ academic achievements.

"My ultimate career goal is to become a knowledgeable tertiary educator and academic researcher seeking creativity, innovation, and open-mindedness," he says.

More student stories
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.