The sight of foreign exchange students walking around Dongguk University (DGU) Campus has now become quite commonplace. These exchange students are truly global: some come from English speaking countries, and some from more traditional Asian countries. When the Post visited the Center for Foreign Students at Hyewha Hall, we found a Chinese student working very hard at her Korean lessons. Her Korean name is Choi Mae-wha.
She entered Northeast Normal University - (NNU) (located in Jilin) - in September 2006, and has been a DGU exchange student since September 2008. She is majoring in Japanese and works part-time as an assistant in Japanese language and literature. She has been very active. She has attended meetings held by the International Exchange department, which this year took charge of supervising exchange students and has also experienced a variety of activities in Korea, from part-time work to taking part in several club events. "I am very happy with campus life” she said. The problems and difficulties are always neglectable and easy to deal with".
The Post interviewed this committed foreign student:
-What made you choose DGU?
Originally, I planned to attend a university in Japan on an exchange scholarship because my major is Japanese. Then, when I was a sophomore in NNU, my school life became a little tedious. At that time, I wanted to leave China. NNU had an exchange student arrangement with DGU; this enables Chinese students to study here for two years. In addition, I heard that if I went to DGU as an exchange student, I would receive a good education from your excellent scholars. So I decided to learn Japanese at DGU.
-What are the differences between Korea’s campus life and China’s? How do you compare Northeast Normal University with Dongguk University?
A clear difference appears in the school hours. When I attend a lecture at DGU, I am very surprised because the classes are too crowded and non-interactive. Although the professor in charge tries to encourage students' participation, most keep silent. On the other hand, Chinese students participate in a much more interactive way. Many students like to express their opinion in China.
There is another difference between the two countries. The university clubs are very well organized, lively, and active in Korea. There are some groups in NNU with interlapping concerns, but these groups are not as active and as diverse as they are at DGU. In addition, going to an M/T and drinking in a club would be unimaginable in China.
-I heard that you joined many activities. What did you do at DGU last semester?
Although my major is Japanese, I am interested in business and international trade. I joined the Frontier club (a club that encourages people to imagine taking business risks) at DGU. The club provided a wide variety of activities. We discussed our ideas about projects for starting an enterprise. To sell my ideas, I spoke to a large audience from the marketing and financial management. I also used the time to explain the Chinese market to club members.
In addition, I joined the tennis club at DGU as a way of making Korean friends. I am able to get rid of lot of stress by playing tennis. All these experiences were valuable to me.
-Please give advice for other exchange students at DGU.
If you are chosen as an exchange student, you should learn not only the language but also the culture. I think that the best way to learn the language and culture is to make friends in the country. In my case, I was able to learn all this by keeping good company and involving myself in many club activities. These diverse activities might help you learn more about the nation.
-What is your dream? When your time here is up, will you come back to Korea for a visit?
I am going to live in Seoul after my two year stint as a DGU exchange student ends. I hope to get a place as an intern at a foreign company located in Korea. To be truthful, I am not at all certain what the future holds for me. After graduation, I want to be in the position to play an important role in connecting the business concerns of South Korea with Japan and China. I will then enter the global stage by going to the United Kingdom. That is why I am studying English hard.
Kwak Gyu-ryeong email@example.com
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