Ryan Jung’s best-selling college years

Ryan Jung
Ryan Jung

Ryan Jung, a senior honors student majoring in mathematics with a minor in economics, has achieved success with numbers even before he heads out into the working world.

His book, “Everything You Need to Know for Studying Abroad in the U.S.,” is a bestseller in Korea. More than 3,000 copies of the book, which is written in Korean, sold in 2012, making it a bestseller in the nonfiction/educational literature category. Jung says he knows of no other book like it in all of Asia.

Jung, who graduates this term, says he decided to write about his experiences as an international student because, despite the fact that international students can find quite a bit of information by searching the Internet, “there is a lot of false and unclear information regarding international student life in the U.S.”

He conceived the idea in January 2011 and got right to work. The book was published only 11 months later.

Jung was 19 when he first arrived in the U.S. “My goal was to lead an open-minded life and experience as many new things as I could,” he says.

But he wasn’t prepared for culture shock. “I didn’t know how to react to my environment or people.”

Many international students experience similar feelings when they step off the airplane. “For the next six years, I embarked on a journey, adjusting to my surroundings and learning from my mistakes,” Jung says.

One of those mistakes was serious. “I was sent to court for breaking Oregon’s ‘Open-Container’ law,” says Jung. In Asia, people are allowed to drink alcohol on the streets. Jung had no idea it was illegal to do so in Oregon.

Jung says if he'd had a mentor or access to the type of information his book provides, he wouldn’t have had to go through such an ordeal. “This thought intensified throughout my college life, and it led me to a desire to help others. What if I could be that mentor?” he says.

During six years of studying in the U.S., Jung took “lots of vivid photos,” allowing him to illustrate the book with images that showed many aspects of college life. As one of Jung’s hobbies is collecting things, he saved “receipts, emails, mail, insurance forms, tax materials, midterm and final exams, notes from conversations with professors and so on.” He says that level of detail “made the book unique and precious for Korean society because it shows real life and what’s going to happen in college.”

“Everything You Need to Know for Studying Abroad” covers academic life and more. It has a wide range of scenarios, including “how to meet and mingle with Americans, how to apply for a driver’s license and how to cope with culture shock,” as well as how to navigate the world of fraternities and sororities, Jung says.

Because his book is full of photos and examples, Jung says it gives students more confidence in knowing what to expect when they go abroad to study. “They think, ‘I can do it.’”

Jung graduates this term and heads back to Korea, where he will await responses to his MBA applications to several universities in the U.S. and undergo testing for admission into the U.S.-South Korea Joint Air Force program.

- by Aria Seligmann, UO Office of Strategic Communications