When he accidentally selected the wrong major on his application form for UIC, Arizton Pamplona didn’t realize he was changing the course of his future, but luckily, things have worked out well for him.


Arizton grew up all over the place, so it made sense that he wanted to study abroad. He was born in Hawaii, but then grew up in Zhongshan, China in his early years before later moving back to the United States to California. After finishing high school, Arizton originally wanted to study in Taiwan, to become certified to teach English eventually but ended up finding out about UIC and choosing that instead.

His family was moving to Hong Kong, so he originally looked for schools in Hong Kong; however, UIC was the more attractive option, since international students pay the same tuition fees as local students, while still allowing him to be close to Hong Kong. When Arizton filled out his application form, he meant to enrol in the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) major but checked the wrong box, and in a twist of fate, enrolled in Government and International Relations (GIR) instead.

UIC has been a great fit for Arizton, because it has allowed him to develop his passion for music, which brings him to Hong Kong frequently where he performs while learning about issues that matter to him on campus. He’s glad he ended up with his current major and has had the opportunity to get involved in several internships in Hong Kong, which have solidified his interest in working with GIR in the future. He is ideally looking for a role in an international firm or a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). His internships in Hong Kong ranged from Corporate Social Responsibility to helping refugees to international commerce NGOs, which all helped prepare him for a future in the field that he has a strong interest in.

When not studying, which Arizton says he sometimes spends 6-7 hours per day doing, he likes to play music. He loves music so much that he even added the Music minor onto his degree. The first instrument Arizton learned was the piano, but he lost interest and wanted to learn guitar and bass instead. He’s been playing these instruments for about 12 years now. The iMusic club on UIC’s campus through the Whole Person Education Office (WPEO) is how he got involved in music. It presented a good networking opportunity for musicians on campus to collaborate, and this is how he found his bandmates for his current band, Black Banana.

Through his internships, he’s done a lot of content development and copyediting as well as writing. He learned how to do these through GIR. GIR is a diverse major that stresses transferrable skills that can be applied in many different contexts. GIR major acclimatizes students to not only international politics but international history and business as well.

How does learning in America compare to China? Arizton says the schooling seems a lot more competitive at UIC, and he remembers in the orientation that the VP of UIC was talking about how this is one of the most difficult schools in mainland China because of the grading curve at UIC. He found it very difficult in his first year but has adjusted now.

Arizton also volunteers as one of the GIR tutors, focusing on helping Year Two students at UIC become familiar with Chicago style of citations, vocabulary, and more. His favourite class has been International Political Economy, which helped him to become familiar with political institutions, international institutions, as well as the origins of the monetary system.

When asked what advice he’d give to new students, Arizon says “It’s going to be okay, don’t stress out too much in your first semester.” His proudest achievement in his time at UIC has been receiving three scholarships. These make his parents happy and proud of him, which contributes to his happiness as well. He says that receiving scholarships is the great achievement academically he can receive because this helps him earn real money towards his degree. Arizton has received two International Student scholarships from Guangdong province, in addition to one Dean’s list scholarship from UIC.

Looking forward to the future, Arizton has a couple of things on his plate. He is working on making an album, and also looking for work in Hong Kong, perhaps with one of the organizations he interned with before. Whatever he ends up doing, we know Arizton will be successful, even if he accidentally applies for the wrong position.

Reporter: Samantha Burns
Photo provided by Arizton Pamplona
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He
(from MPRO)