By: Hunter Boschert
Grace Lee is a graduate student at Bellarmine pursuing her master’s in communication. She will graduate in December 2018. She received her undergraduate degree in international and U.S. law and psychology and counseling from the Handong Global University in South Korea.
Lee was born in South Korea, and when she was three months old, she and her family left for Sierra Leone in western Africa. When she was 5, a civil war broke out, and her family fled to Guinea. Then a war broke out in Guinea, and Lee was sent to a boarding school in the Ivory Coast. After spending some time there, she moved back to Sierra Leone where she graduated high school.
Q: What is your favorite Bellarmine event?
A: During finals week, I enjoyed all the calming activities like petting the dogs. Also, I attended the Ari Shapiro speech, which was very interesting.
Q: What do you miss most about home?
A: It has been 10 years since I have been home so I do not remember much. I really miss my dog, though. My story is very interesting, and I have had a lot of homes so setting down has been a transition for me. I am used to moving and am used to airports being my home. Being in one place and knowing this is where I will be staying for a while use to be very challenging, but I know finding roots is very important. I miss the adventure and thrill of new beginnings and fresh starts all the time. Traveling internationally really opens your eyes, but now I am learning the value of the word home.
Q: What is your favorite U.S. city?
A: I loved Destin, Florida, because the climate there reminded me of Africa.
Q: Why did you choose to come to the Bellarmine?
A: I originally came to the United States to focus on ministry and music at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary here in Louisville. I decided to transfer to Bellarmine last semester to focus on and use my undergraduate degrees I received in South Korea. I feel like basically with communications, all of the pieces in my life are fitting together. I have interacted with people all over the world all of life, and I think the communications degree really allows me to interact with individuals on an even greater level.
Q: Is the U.S. what you expected it to be like?
A: No, not at all. I thought that I understood the American culture before I got here because I had so much interaction with Americans abroad. However, they were Americans, abroad they were not Americans in America. People here have a lot more boundaries and things are more linear. Whether it is a friendship or a professional relationship, it seems like there is a process that you go through to build that relationship. When people say you need to have an experience abroad, you really need to because you cannot fully learn about a culture until you integrate into it.
Q: What is the strangest social custom you have noticed?
A: I did not know how to use parking meters because here you pay up front. In other places I have lived, you pay after you are done parking so you know how much to pay so I got a parking ticket. Also the coins are very confusing because a bigger coin does not mean a bigger value, and all of the paper money is all the same color so that is confusing. It does not seem that Americans spend that much quality time together like during meals. Also, everything is so much bigger here because people really like their personal space.
Q: What is your favorite American food?
A: I love biscuits and gravy and Southern meals like chicken fried steak. Since I moved to America, I have developed a gluten intolerance, which really limits my options. I really want to try going to a fair so I can try all of the fried food.
Q: What food do you miss from home?
A: Sushi is not the same in the United States. It is not as fresh and the fish-to-rice ratio is not right. It is understandable since Kentucky is landlocked, but I have not been able to find fresh sushi.
Q: Do you plan on staying in Louisville?
A: No, I don’t think so. I am trying to go straight toward my Ph.D. so that will take me somewhere else. I would like to stay close because I really feel at home here.