Kory McMahanHistory and political science
Orange City, Iowa

Born in South Korea and adopted as a baby, Kory spent the first few years of his life in Seattle before his family moved to Orange City. An active member of Northwestern’s International Club, Kory sings in the A cappella Choir and plays a number of intramural sports. Kory is also minoring in Christian community development and cultural studies and is considering working with the Peace Corps after graduation before returning to Seattle for grad school.

Raider role models
I chose to attend Northwestern because people I admired as leaders had attended the college and left with life-changing experiences and memories, through both their time on campus and their study abroad experiences. Many of them had participated in the Romania Semester, and hearing their stories about their time abroad really made me want to experience it for myself.

Cultural curiosity
Prior to Northwestern, I had only traveled outside of the United States once to visit South Korea for a two-week tour. During the fall semester of my sophomore year, I studied in Romania, and I participated in the Oman Semester as a junior.

Reflecting on Romania
There were quite a few highlights during my time in Romania, including a backpacking trip through the Retezat Mountains. It was a great way to get to know the rest of the study abroad group and build community with each other. It was also one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I really enjoyed working with the kids from IMPACT (service-learning clubs), and helping out at the Viata Camp (an adventure education program). But what I enjoyed most was spending time with my host family. Getting to know them and how they lived their day-to-day lives meant a lot to me, and I will never forget the impact they had on my life.

Life lessons
I learned a lot during my semester abroad in Romania. Some lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life include: Take nothing for granted because there are so many with so much less than us. Enjoy your time in nature and value it as God’s creation. Be slow to judge, as people at first glance are not always what they seem.

Reflecting on Oman
The devoutness and hospitality I experienced in Oman has altered my worldview and how I view those who come from an entirely different culture and background. Even though there were differences in how we were raised and are called to live, I found I could build deep and close relationships with those I encountered. There was a shared humanity and compassion that astounded me and taught me much about how I am called to live in this world, particularly with those who do not share my faith or culture. My Christian faith has grown deeper from the love, respect and hospitality I was shown during my time in Oman, and I use the knowledge and wisdom I gained there to further build and strengthen ties between Muslims and Christians. 

Northwestern is ranked among 50 American colleges and universities with the best study abroad programs. The listing, by Best College Reviews, identifies the most desirable study abroad opportunities that are unique to a college or university and provide a personal experience for the student. Read more