Last month, you heard from P’Min. This month, I interviewed Jun Jutatungcharoen (CO’15)–P’Min’s older brother. Here’s what he had to say.
Which university are you studying in?
I’m studying at the University of Hong Kong for my Bachelor’s Degree, but I’m currently studying abroad at King’s College London.
What are you studying? Why did you choose to study in this field?
I’m currently majoring in Politics and Public Administration with a minor in Psychology. I was interested in Politics as I am a huge lover of history. I did want to see the practical side of it, and I wanted to make sense of the world around me a little more. Hence, I wanted to go into the field of international relations, practically or academically. I was also interested in Psychology, as I was born with Asperger’s Syndrome and I found the human brain of neurotypical people to be rather interesting. Other than that, I occasionally delved into the world of Linguistics, which is something I have recently been interested in.
You’re taking a gap semester, what has that been like so far?
Well, I’m not, but thanks for asking 🙂 I am currently on exchange, and I’m having a marvellous time there. I hadn’t been anywhere near Europe before, but since I had the opportunity to study for a semester in London and I quite like the place. I’m a big fan of history and being in a city where the Houses of Parliament or The Globe Theatre are no more than half an hour walk away is a unique and magnificent experience.
What advice do you have for students in MYP and DP?
First, don’t be too concerned if you don’t know what you’re going to do in the future. Many people who graduate from university still don’t know what their ultimate career is. After all, it doesn’t make too much sense that all people under their 20’s know the path they would take for the rest of their life.
Second, I would recommend thinking about your university early, even starting from Grade 9. I felt unprepared when I had to start thinking about it in DP, not knowing what kind of university I was looking for, what kind of courses to take in DP to prepare for my future degree, or the scholarships I could have applied for. Being exposed to these questions early would have better prepared me for deciding my academic future.
What do you love most about your university?
I met various professors, some of whom are very intelligent and admirable people. My academic advisor is someone I just enjoy talking to, and we sometimes talk for hours when I meet him. The campus itself is quite small and compact, which is quite useful if you want to quickly get from one place to another. It isn’t very financially demanding either, as the tuition and hall fees are heavily subsidized, various facilities are free, and many of the restaurants on campus are discounted for students.
What do you miss most about KIS and Bangkok?
I do miss some of the people. KIS had a very intimate class which a large lecture hall can’t do. Even small seminar groups are sometimes a bit quiet. It is also quite hard to come across Thai people in my university, so much so that there aren’t enough people to form a Thai society. I do miss the cheap and delicious food back in Bangkok as well, as it is hard to find anything like it here.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Hong Kong?
It was quite a scary decision really. I was going to be the first KIS student there, and I had no alumni to rely on. I had been to Hong Kong several times though, had family there, and I felt like Hong Kong was a politically intellectual, informing, and liberating place. With the University of Hong Kong also being one of the most highly ranked universities in Asia, why wouldn’t I go there?
What are your future plans?
I’m still not entirely sure yet. My most immediate idea is to do a Masters at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, which might lead to a career in international organizations in the UN, or go for an academic career and do a PhD on Southeast Asian politics.
What advice do you have for aspiring ______?
I left this part blank, perhaps because it had me thinking about aspirations. Some people in KIS perhaps don’t know what they aspire to do, while others have many aspirations. I have trodden on many paths, so perhaps I can advise on how to navigate them.
To aspiring writers, I advise you to write. This is as simple as it is true. I find myself wanting to be a good writer, but you won’t get anywhere if you just want it. The only way to be a better writer is to write. Whether you are writing fiction, a political article, an academic essay, or even a simple blog post, you can only get better if you start putting pen to paper (or in most cases, finger to keyboard).
To aspiring PhD candidates, make sure you know why you want to do it. Getting a PhD is not about getting the title “Dr” or getting a better pay. You should do it if you truly want to learn something new, be intellectually challenged, have a lifelong fascination. This path should be internally motivated. You want to do a PhD, because you want to do a PhD.
To aspiring workers for international organizations, I advise you to be more engaged with the world. A professor of mine advised us to intern in the UN, as your colleagues will be from all over the world. Read up on the culture and history of various countries and peoples. Try to learn a new language. Talk to people from a different country. It helps if you have a vision for what would make the world a better place, and how you would do it.
Having many options seem overwhelming, but the fact is that you never always have to pick one. If you find out you don’t like it, you can try another. We live in a world where people with multiple specializations are becoming more valued. Don’t feel bad if you feel like you can’t choose between two things. It might be a good thing.
How have you contributed to the university? What clubs, frats etc. have you joined?
I’ve done quite a lot more than I expected I would. I hadn’t done many activities when I was in KIS, and I had a goal before I went to university that I would try to do more. The first thing I did was join the Hong Kong University Students’ Union Choir a while back, and I found myself being in the Executive Committee later. It was quite an odd thing for me to do, since I had never been in a proper choir before then, let alone running a society. However, I came out of it with an understanding of administration and better Cantonese.
Other than that, my life in university has given me activities and roles beyond my imagination. I was a student ambassador, did and taught public speaking, debated, joined a business program, wrote articles and personal diaries, various volunteer work, translated Thai in public events, and other things I couldn’t remember.
Do you continue to exemplify the IB Learner Profile even though you are studying in university? How?
I had felt like I was an inquirer and knowledgeable in certain aspects, as it allows me to bring novel ideas into a discussion. I did show myself to be a communicator on several occasions, as I have done public speaking then, and I am doing it now.
I found it surprising that aspects of my IB Learner Profile were developed at university. Being reflective is particularly important as I looked at my old life in KIS, and wondered how it could be better. This taught me to be a risk-taker when I joined more clubs and did more activities than I ever had. I also became more balanced as I learned how to make better schedules and plan my work better to make quality assignments. So far it has helped me do well in school and I’m happy to do well.
How has the IB program prepared you for university?
I found myself frequently verbalizing that even though the IB had been absolutely demanding, I felt lucky that I did it.
I felt that way when I observed many of my friends who perhaps haven’t gone through something as rigorous as the IB. We joke sometimes that the IB teaches us to write good last-minute essays, but the reality is that a lot of people in university still struggle to do this. Knowing how to write thesis statements or making a clear stance is still novel to some of these people, but the IB has prepared us for this.
The IB also taught me to be more internationally minded, and contrast to many of my local friends who had never left Hong Kong before. You understand the importance of understanding the world globally and critically, and perhaps I truly owe that to the IB.
Is there an alumnus you’re dying to hear from? Leave a comment below and I’ll try my best to get into contact with him/her.