Paunise Pierre is from Gonaives, Haiti. She moved to Tallahassee, Florida when she was 19 years old to study Economics at Florida State University. Paunise is currently studying for her masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. After she graduates, Paunise would like to continue traveling and explore a career in investment banking. In this interview, she looks back on her period studying in China.
In her free time, Paunise enjoys attending events on campus and interacting with students of various international backgrounds and ethnicities. She also enjoys cooking and tasting foods from other cultures. When she isn’t studying, Paunise is traveling to new locations to experience all they have to offer. She hopes to relocate to China after she graduates to pursue her dreams and start her career.
What sparked your dream to study abroad?
“I moved from Haiti to the US when I was 19 years old. I finished high school and started college. During my freshman year, I signed up to go on an adventure in China just because I wanted to know what the world looked like outside of the United States.
Before studying in China, I had a layover in Incheon, South Korea. I stayed in a Korean Air hotel during the layover. Immediately, I fell in love with Korea and vowed to return one day. Before visiting South Korea, I prepared by learning about the culture. I used resources at FSU by joining the Korean American Student Association as well as the Asian American Student Union. I started watching very popular Korean TV shows and listening to K-pop.
Two years later, my dream came true. I visited Seoul, South Korea and stayed there for three weeks. I was mesmerized by the immense history sitting in one city. Seoul has everything someone could look for with locations that range from historical monuments to pillars of the modernized world. I climbed my first mountains in South Korea at the Bukhansan National Park in the Seoul area. I enjoyed the food, the people I met there, and the country in whole. Since my trip, I plan to return since I feel like I need to explore the other parts of the country. I’d like to visit places such as Busan, Daegu, and the DMV. One of my biggest dreams is to see the two Koreas reunite before I die. My next trip is to Eastern Europe this summer, and I cannot wait to explore more of the world.”
What were your expectations before you left? How have they changed?
“I studied at the Tianjin Foreign Studies University in Tianjin, China in 2014. My expectation was to meet only Chinese students, but there were students who happened to be from all over the world. They were from countries such as France, the UK, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and many others.
In addition, my expectations before I went to South Korea were very high due to my exposure to their culture through TV shows and K-pop. I was not disappointed when I arrived in South Korea. The country only exceeds my expectations. Navigating the subway and taking the bus in a completely new city was actually fascinating to me. Another “first” I did in South Korea was taking my first subway ride. I was able to navigate easily with their smartphone app.”
What did you not expect?
“The language barrier was my biggest challenge. Sometimes I would try to have a small conversation with the locals, or I’d try asking for directions when I needed to navigate on my own in the cities. I was not able to do it easily without my classmates or other acquaintances while I was there.”
What’s your next step?
“I am currently working on my MBA and am trying to travel to other places that I have not been to. Europe is currently on my travel list and I’m excited to explore a new part of the world. I try to explore the United States and Canada as much as I can since they are closest to me.”
What advice would you give to a student with the dream to study abroad?
“My advice to anyone going to travel abroad is to be ready to learn not only about the hosting country’s culture but also about yourself. While you are learning about this new-found culture, it also happens to be that you are simultaneously discovering yourself. It can be quite challenging sometimes to be in a new place alone. Travel can test your ability to adapt to diverse situations and your ability to problem-solve when faced with a challenge.”
If the opportunity presented itself while Paunise was working on her masters, she’d study abroad in China again in a heartbeat. Paunise would like to go back to China to reunite with old friends and travel around to see other historical sites of the country. She enjoyed the program very much and learned a great deal about herself and the Chinese culture. To read more about study abroad adventures, visit our We Study page!