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Adventures of a Rumanian Exchange Student

  Photograph by Kim Ji-seun  
   As they say, it is truly a global society in these modern times, and interactions between numerous universities around the world are thriving day by day. In order to be a part of this movement, Dongguk University is also in alliance with universities worldwide, and  has accepted 566 foreign exchange students from 107 schools in 33 countries. Because these international students are no longer considered as a minority, but are forming a great proportion of the school’s student body, it is crucial to interact with and get to know them. In this interview, we have talked with Emily from Rumania and listened to her experiences so far as a Donggukian.


Q.  Glad to meet you Emily. Could you briefly introduce yourself to the readers?

A.  Glad to meet you too. Hello, everyone. My name is Emilia Abigail Bucsan, but I prefer to go by Emily. I also have a Korean name that my friends here in Korea gave me, which is Seol-a Lee. I am from Rumania, a country located in Southeastern Europe. I am 22 years old in Korean age, and this is my third year in college so I could say I am a junior. I am majoring in both Korean and English language and literature. I like listening to music, playing piano, drawing portraits taking one or two days in my free time. Unfortunately, I have an exam in few weeks, so I do not have that much of a free time currently.


Q.  So you are a Korean language and literature major. Is there any special reason or motivation that made you choose such major? Also, do many Rumanians know Korea?

A.  To start off, not many Rumanians recognized the country before the K-Wave movement. As K-Pop and K-drama gained popularity around seven years ago, people’s interests were not only limited to music and TV shows but also extended to history and culture. Internal relations between Rumania and South Korea also took a big role. Personally, my parents have been interested in Asian culture ever since I was a young girl. In addition, my best friend in high school was really into Korean culture and she told me a lot about it, so I naturally got attracted to it as well. After I graduated from high school, I went to Babes-Bolyai University back in my home, as you already know, double majoring in Korean and English.


Q.   Then how did you come to Dongguk University then? It must have been a hard decision for you. And did you know it was a Buddhist school?

A.  After a year of my college life, I applied for an exchange program to Korea. Thankfully, my mother has been my best supporter ever since I have made that decision. I am an only child and I spent a lot of my time with her so it must have been hard for her, but she wishes what is best for me. When I first told my father about the news, he said, “Go for it if it is what you truly want.” Seoul National University was also on the list of exchange programs but the school had only one scholarship for a Romanian student, and it was for a semester. Since I wanted to stay longer and come with my friends who are also majoring in Korean, we all applied to Dongguk University and started our classes in March. And yes, I knew it was a Buddhist school and it was quite interesting to see Buddhist symbols in school after getting here. Although I am a Protestant Christian myself, I enjoy exploring other religions, so that was not a problem for me. I heard there is a temple nearby but I still have not had a chance to visit there, so that is definitely on my bucket list.


Q.  You are lucky to have supportive parents I can say. Now, could you tell me about your life on-campus? Maybe classes, professors, classmates you liked or school programs, festivals, or clubs?

A.   Well, all of my Korean Teachers were very nice. My classmates in Korean classes were mostly Chinese, so it was quite hard to communicate with them since we all were all in the state of learning Korean and only few of them spoke English. In English literature classes, I learned about Native American novels which were interesting. I also took English grammar for speaking class where I met a lot of Korean students from English Department. Also, Ms. Kwon from Office of International Affairs has helped me a lot throughout my first semester here in Dongguk. As a school event, I really enjoyed the school festival in May. Since I enjoy drawing, I am in a drawing club, Geurigo-Geurim, and my club members and I did face painting and sold candles during Daedongje. There is a seminar almost every week, so I go there, talk with my friends and draw things. I also enjoyed MT for the club.


Q.  It is great to hear you had many fun memories in school! What about off-campus then? Also what is your overall impression in Korea and its culture?

A.  I have visited a lot of places in Seoul. To begin with, I have visited Myeong-dong since it is located right next to the school, and Han River where I enjoy riding a bike and eating chi-maek. Other place I have been to include Shin-chon, Insa-dong, and Hongik University for its school festival. I was also in a K-Pop concert dance team, and I performed at an opening ceremony with fifteen other students. Also, I was interviewed on Arirang TV for one of its programs looking for foreigners who want to understand Korean culture and came to South Korea, and I met a lot of people from other countries and producers working there, which was great. A few days ago, I traveled to Gyeong-ju and Busan, and I visited several famous travel spots in Korea like Bulguk-sa and Haeundae. Listening to local people speaking their dialects was also a fun experience. As for Korean culture, I love every part of it, but especially the food. Ddeokbokki is indeed my favorite food because I love spicy food. I enjoy different options of adding cheese or ramyeon noodles to it as well.


Q.  I see. Could you tell me about your plans for the future?

A.  After I finish my fall semester in Dongguk University, and maybe in next January, I have to go back to Rumania since my VISA expires. However, I am currently looking for ways to stay here longer and possibly graduate here. Even if I go back, I still plan to come back to Korea for master’s degree after my undergraduate studies. On the other hand, I am also interested in getting master’s degree in music. Furthermore, I find psychology interesting these days especially on how human behavior reflects people’s personality in daily life. For the past few months, I had a clear vision of becoming a professor in English or Korean back in Rumania, but a lot of things are in my mind now.


Q.  Well, I am glad to hear that coming back to Korea is in your plans. Is there any last thing you want to say to readers of The Dongguk Post, your family or friends?

A.  Hello. I am Emily from Rumania, and I have shared my experience as an exchange student Dongguk University and Korea in general throughout this interview. I would have to say being here in Korea is one of the best experiences in my life because I could have an opportunity to learn Korean better, improve my speaking skills, and make lots of Korean friends. I also want to thank my parents and all my friends for supporting me. I love you guys and wish you all the best. Thank you and good bye.

Lho Hyun-jung  elenalho95@dongguk.edu

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