When Andrew Caldwell first arrived in Korea, he was the only English-speaking person in his community.
“For the first month, I couldn’t talk to anybody,” he says.
Weeks earlier, he had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies at Harding University in Searcy, but his career focus was a bit hazy, he says. The idea of going into the medical profession, which once appealed to him, had waned. A fan of “Saturday Night Live,” Andrew and a buddy considered writing comedy routines, moving to Los Angeles and trying to break into show business. Andrew’s father quickly discouraged him of the notion.
And now he was teaching English as a second language in Andong, Gyeongasangbuk-Do, South Korea, located three hours by bus east of Seoul.
The area was unlike anything he had experienced. Residents adhered to the principles of Confucianism, which originated from ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. Andrew learned that elders were to be treated with great respect and knew to bow deeper for older people who held authority.
“There’s a sense of honor that we don’t have here,” he says.
Through a different culture, Andrew began to fully appreciate the value of an education. Though he had been overseas before when he studied in Italy for two semesters as an undergraduate, his Korean experiences were different, he says.
“I learned so much about myself – about how I truly want to be,” he says.
During his two years in Korea, Andrew took a computer programming course. He liked it. When he moved back to his hometown of Little Rock, he worked at a couple of local restaurants and prepared for his Graduate Management Admissions Test
He was going to graduate school. As he applied to several universities, he says he discovered something. “The more I learned about the University of Arkansas, the more I liked it,” he says. Andrew met with the Walton College’s Graduate School of Business staff, and those meetings went well, he says. Affordability also played a role. “The University of Arkansas is such a better deal for what you’re getting,” he says.
Shortly after enrolling and attending his classes, he says he knew he made the right decision. “I loved the smaller class sizes,” he says, adding that he has found his professors to be accessible and attentive. Andrew says he is focusing on finance and business management and hopes to work in either field after graduation.
While Andrew pursues his master’s degree, he is interning at TracFone Wireless, a prepaid mobile phone provider, as a member of the company’s replenishment team in its Bentonville office. He says he analyzes data from Walmart’s retail link database and tracks inventory supply.
Andrew says he’s happy with his choice. He has already developed a camaraderie with his fellow students.
“Everyone wants to see each other succeed,” he says. “That’s been really fun.”