Jinyoung Cheon found her name changing after she arrived at East Tennessee State University. She says, “Everyone here calls me ‘Jenny.’ I don’t mind that at all. I think that is a pretty name.”
Cheon came to ETSU from South Korea through an exchange program with her homeland school, Kangwon National University, and she is nearing the end of two years of study in the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences’ dental hygiene program.
No one else in the Cheon family has traveled internationally, but when the opportunity to study at ETSU arose, Jenny packed up her things and traveled to Tennessee.
“It was very hard at first,” Cheon explains. “And I haven’t seen my family and friends in two years. That can be a very lonely feeling. Luckily, I joined International Buccaneer Buddies, where I met both American and other international students. They were very welcoming and supportive.”
In addition to the other adjustments to life in a new place, Cheon had to learn to speak English. She is now very fluent, but says that is not due to previous study, but out of necessity when she arrived on campus.
Cheon also credits faculty, staff and fellow students for her success at ETSU, as well as her involvement with Campus Crusade for Christ. “I am very grateful to Dr. Don Samples (dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences) and Dr. Charles Faust (director of the dental hygiene program). I would not be here if not for them. Coming to ETSU was a very good decision, and what I will miss most when I leave are the people here,” she says.
While Cheon contacts her family through FaceTime sessions when possible, that isn’t always easy. She explains, “When I wake up, they are just going to sleep.” Another comfort was finding an Asian market in the area where she can get kimchi, a South Korean favorite dish. Cheon has, however, developed a taste for American food. “I like it so much that I keep gaining a pound now and then,” she says.
One difference Cheon noticed between Kangwon and ETSU is the emphasis the ETSU dental hygiene program places on practical experience and clinics. “I think that gives me better preparation for my career,” she says. To improve her skills even further, she hopes to pursue the possibility of staying in America an extra year for practical experience.