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Hidden complaints of Exchange students in DonggukWhether Foreign students continue to come or leave depends on how school tries to solve the problems

 

“Huh, huh, tap, tap pant, pant.” The sound of feet on the asphalt and the huffing breath just spread around the Namsan Park in the morning. It reminds me of the scene of the famous Nike advertisement in which women are running the road without any string to attach.  One exchange student of Dongguk University(DU) starts a day like this,  running and smelling the fresh air. After returning to the guest house which is 10 minutes away from Namsan Park and DU, he is fairly busy eating the food that he made in the kitchen and prepares to go to school in the same way as the Korean university students do.

According to the research of International Relations, there are 250 foreign students in DU now.  From this fall semester, 2010, 85 students from 21 countries also have come and begun to study as exchange students, including the first African student. This result   shows not only the remarkable growth of the number of foreign students but also how diverse country's students are coming. In other words, globalization in school blooms marvelously. However, it has a limit to understand the satisfaction of the foreign exchange students’ life in DU from this statistics. 

The 97% exchange students stay in guest houses run by school. Regular guest houses located in Chungmuro and Banpo-dong, however, can't accommodate all the exchange students. To solve this problem, school usually prepares and rents temporary accommodations depending on the number of exchange students every semester. In this semester, two other buildings in Chungmuro and Nonhyeon-dong were leased for them. Lack of unprepared regular guest houses gives students confusion and awkward feeling because they live in rooms different from they had expected.

"I was crying for several days after I was assigned to the room of the basement." Nameiso Dorothy, an exchange student from Botswana, who lives in Guest house at Banpo-dong, a temporary building said. "It was not the room that I had expected and seen from the photo that school gave before I leave my country!  The room was not well-ventilated because of the un-locked windows.  Also all the noises from outside such as car, construction sifted through the room." Now she moved her room to upstairs of the Banpo-dong Guest house but waved her hands refusing to remember that day. Guest houses are far from comfort that is needed the most for foreign students.  Moreover, many students have complaints about shortage of storage space in the room and the kitchen appliances.  "I bring a lot of books and clothes to live in Korea but there is no enough space to put them all. I need more shelves but it is too much for me to purchase because I plan to live here only 6 months." Gauhar from Kazakhstan said.

More than 600 foreign students including the students who just came for language training take a language course in DU now and participate in the cultural experiences held every month like experiencing Samulnori.  Considering a number of students, it is no surprise that the Korean education center in DU is well-known for a great language course as to have been selected as a great Korean education center by the government in 2010.  Also, school tries to make an event to get to know each others better. In that sense, foreign students were invited as students of DU on 2010 Home Coming day, a big school reunion held on October 2nd, and took a great time with Korean students.

“We put a lot of emphasis on making exchange students to feel the sense of kinship. 2010 Home Coming day was a kind of day to get along with each other." Shin ha-geun ,a chief manger of the International Relations said.

However, exchange students want more opportunity to get along with Korean students. Lgua Funka Fuuha from Lithuania said he registered the class of English speaking to get along with Korean students. He added "There is little chance to talk with Korean students unless I take a class like speaking practice. I even receive an impression from Korean students that they are afraid of me." Dorothy from Botswana couched a complaint that she had a hard time in finding the Korean friends or clubs to share with her hobby together. She said "All the club posters are Korean so I can't figure out what kind of clubs are in DU.  In my university, many clubs were composed of students from diverse countries. And we share our thoughts and hobbies freely. I really miss that time."           

In the case of Yonsei University, Yonsei Global , an independent student organization under the Yonsei University, plays a role in helping to connect Korean and foreign students. Students have voluntarily conducted programs like G.I.Joe, visiting to Korean IT and Game Industry, Global Angel, doing volunteer work with foreign students, and YG United, the soccer team. These programs are notable in that they are reflected to the demand and interest of the foreign students.

"Foreign students have a lot of interests about Korean industry so we made a G.I.Joe program to meet their needs. Also, we can share our thoughts and ideas touring the companies together as a friend." said Lee Jun-hak, the team leader of the Global Angel. Ton Chia Hong, an exchange student from Singapore who participated in the Global Angel said that sharing the same interest with Korean friends is meaningful. "There is less chance to speak with Korean students in school. Through this program, however, I can share a similar interest and experience with many Koreans." Also, YG United, the soccer team mixed with diverse nationalities practices every week. More than 80% of the foreign students actively engage on it.

Most of the classes spoken in English have foreign exchange students. Korean students said that these classes help to understand more deeply on other cultures. "I don't have to go abroad to get to know other cultures. During the class, exchange students introduce their culture and compare it to ours. I can feel the class and my mind becoming more globalized." Jang Min-ji, a student in English literature said. Some exchange students, on the other hands, have a different opinion about the class delivered in English. Students have a difficulty in understanding the lecture.

"I took the lecture because it was planned to speak in English. However, professor usually speaks in Korean so I can't understand anything. I should study alone." Gauhar from Kazakhstan said. Another student from Malaysia said "Professor uses English but most of the times  use in Korean. I know that professors try to speak Korean to help Korean students to understand the lecture. Meanwhile, I feel like I'm alien when he explained something in Korean."

As ranked at 5th in the field of internationalization of the University's Evaluation conducted by JoongAng daily, it is no doubt that DU rapidly becomes a hottest sanctuary of students to develop the insight which is necessary for globalization.

"I know that school really endeavors to have a reciprocal arrangement with University in other countries. How significant it is that all the students from diverse countries meet and study in the DU." said Kim eun-wha, the professor of English. "However, we should remember that whether foreign students continue to come or leave depends on how school tries to solve the problems that foreign students take burden now such as accommodations, lectures and so on. School must keep improving them."

Park Ji-hyun  bungaeo0@dongguk.edu

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  • Pablo 2015-12-01 23:02:21

    "Korean...so therefore...you know...like...not a full psroen"I've seen this phenomenon before with both males and females who have Korean significant others -- the non-Koreans cling together and hesitate to approach the Koreans at the table, whether because they're unsure what language level they speak, or because they're just excited to be around other native speakers, or because of a little latent "othering" going on (I don't want to call it straight-up racism, but there's a little "otherness" at the table, you know?I've seen couples where the Korean half loses interest in hanging out with the western half's friends because s/he's tired of being ignored, or treated like an accessory. I've also seen couples where the Korean half gets right in the thick of the social interactions... but usually through some effort.궗엺 留덈떎 떖씪슂.INP: I'm annoyed by eve because she didn't answer your specific questions. And in the same way I call down western men who disparage western women in Korea as ... you know the tropes ... I tire of western women trotting out the tired stereotypes of western men.   삭제

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