In order to support students learn foreign language skills and cultures, the International Affairs department carries out an exchange student program in the second half of each year. Changwon University is in contact with about 18 foreign universities in five countries now: Russia, USA, China, Philippines and Japan. This is a challenging and competitive program because it can be a special experience for students. So, why did exchange students choose Changwon University? Are you wondering what they are learning and experiencing in Korea? These are exchange students, Wang Xinran from the "Jilin Huaqiao Foreign Languages Institute" in China, Kasai Yumeno from "Yamaguchi University" in Japan, and Olesia Shaposhnikoua and Tatiana Shaposhnikoua from the "Pedagogical Institute of Pacific National University" in Russia.
Wang: I am Wang Xinran from China. I am studying at Changwon National University, Department of Korean Language and Literature. I came for one year as an exchange student and will go back to China this summer when I finish my second semester. I like watching romantic movies and traveling. So I traveled to six cities in China during the last vacation.
Shaposhnikoua: We are juniors in the Korean Language and Literature program at Changwon University. We are twins and best friends. People seem to want to be our friend because we are twins. We came from Khabarovsk, Russia where we studied Korean for 3 years in the language translation department. We like to watch Korean dramas and like playing volleyball.
Yumeno: My major in Japan is Global Science and Studies. This means I learn a variety of subjects. At Changwon University, I am in the third grade in the Dept. of Japanese Language & Literature. I like to communicate with foreigners and teach others new things. So I want to be a teacher in an academy like a cram school. I also like to play guitar. Actually, I learned how to play guitar in Korea, but it has been more than six months since I started learning it from my professor.
What is your first impression of Changwon University?
Wang: I think the eco-friendly atmosphere is good. There is a lot of fresh air and trees, and the size of the school is larger than that of Chinese schools. All the Korean friends I met are very kind, so I get a lot of help from them. When Korean students first see us, they usually speak English. However, I would like to note that the international students here want to learn Korean rather than English.
Shaposhikoua: Our school is the largest university in Far East Asia. There is one building in the school, but Changwon University is huge and the buildings are also pretty. There was a school festival when I first came here. I watched K-pop idols and participated in events to win gift certificates. So far living in Korea has been full of joy so I believe I will continue to be happy here until the end.
Yumeno: First of all, the University is huge. So when I walk from dormitory to the building where I have classes, I feel a little tired because there is a steep hill. It takes about 15 minutes. Students in japan often do not talk to exchange students first, but I think Korean students are very friendly..
Why did you come to Changwon University as an exchange student?
Wang: First, I want to study Korean and experience things like Korean culture and lifestyle directly. The second reason is to achieve my dream. I want to be a Korean language professor in Seoul, in what are commonly called SKY universities (Seoul, Korea and Yonsei). If I have experience as an exchange student, I can get a good score when I get a job. I am majoring in Korean in China, and I have a lot of interest in Korea as I have established a club called "Korean Culture Club" at my university. Therefore, I want to get a job by making use of my major and teach Korean to foreigners in Korea. The third reason is that it is cheaper than the Seoul metropolitan region.
Shaposhikoua: We wanted to experience being exchange students in Korea together. As there are many foreigners around the Seoul metropolitan area, it seemed that we could not improve our Korean skills when meeting friends there. So we chose Changwon, a city near Busan, to practice Korean with more Korean students. Also, when we were in Russia, we had a friend who came from Changwon University as an exchange student. That friend is living in Busan and promised to meet with us. Also, it is very convenient. There are many convenience stores and we think in particular, "lunch box" is an amazing product, which is not found in Russia. There are also many cafes and restaurants that are pretty and themed. This is good, too.
Yumeno: Actually, I wanted to go to Europe at first. But I couldn't go because of my physical problems. So I came to Korea and chose Changwon. Another reason is that I am very interested in education. The foreign teacher whom I met when I was a high school student really impressed me. I want to be such a teacher, an English teacher, not a Korean teacher. The reason for learning Korean is not for a certificate or studying hard, but to communicate with friends, to understand Korean dramas, and to travel. The reason I chose a Japanese major here is because I don't want to get tired of studying English. I just want to try new things that I’ve ever experienced. And it's fun because I'm also learning various fields in my major.
What are the differences between Changwon University and your school?
Wang: I think there are many differences between the two schools. First of all, the education is different. Although the contents of the class are the same, the atmosphere of Korean education is casual and you can be friends with your professor. In particular, there are many presentations and tasks that require teamwork. So, I can meet not only Koreans but also friends from various countries such as Japan, Russia and Vietnam. In particular, the biggest difference with Chinese schools is that there are questions and discussion sessions after the presentations. In Chinese classes, simple speaking assignments such as excerpts of Korean dramas and making a dialogue were the extent of my speaking practice. This is why I was embarrassed when I was asked a lot of questions after my presentation, but it was also interesting. Also, the seating position is fixed in China, but in Korean classes, I can sit wherever I want.
Shaposhikoua: Meeting new friends in each class and making your own timetable seem to be a big advantage. You can choose the classes you want to take, and there are many more foreign professors. Many presentations are group projects, instead of individual, so it is easier to make friends. However, Russian teaching materials are available in the library. But here, we have to purchase textbooks that are very expensive. And we think Koreans feel embarrassed when they see or talk with foreigners. I want to tell them that you don't have to worry.
Yumeno : Actually, There is no big difference in education here. We also think that grades are important, and if you fail, you can take the class again. And the school building is clean and I am happy because there are many places to shop around this city.
What are the inconveniences of living in korea?
Wang: Personally, I don’t like a lot of Korean food because Korean food is a bit bland and has a lot of oil. Also, fruit is expensive. Most people in China use online payment. However, when I first came to Korea, I had no cell phone, alien registration card or bankbook, so I had to suffer an inconvenience when I paid in cash. But now I am using a card by opening a bank account.
Shaposhikoua: I'm a little fed up with the dormitory diet because there’s always rice even if the dish is different. And I can only use my phone over Wi-Fi because I don’t have a Korean phone number. So it's a pity that I can’t use the food delivery service. But, everything is a valuable experience for us.
Yumeno: I still have a hard time speaking Korean. Because I learned mostly reading and writing, so sometimes I use body language when I go to a restaurant or my friends speak Korean instead of me. If you have interest in an exchange student program, I recommend learning the basic grammar of the country's language.
What is one of the most memorable classes?
Wang: I made a presentation about the differences between Korean and Chinese dramas in "Read and Write" class, which is open to foreigners only. At this time, it was an opportunity to understand more about the Korean sentiment and culture by emphasizing the age limit, acting, differences in content and political topics. Also, "Korean grammar (intermediate)" was fun. In particular, the teaching style of the professor is fun and easygoing, so I love it.
Shaposhikoua: Here all classes are interesting. Professor Daren's presentation class is memorable. We have individual, and also team presentations and meet multinational friends during this class. And Professor Kim Gil-seop of “Korean Beginner Dialogue” is also interesting. Not only can you learn to speak Korean but also to read and write, which is practical. Especially, the professor's jokes in Korean are really funny. Last time, he asked us, "What's my name?" and he said, "Kim Mi-nam." (Minam in Korean means A good-looking man.) But sometimes I can't understand the professor's dialect. I think the male professor has a stronger accent than the female professor.
Yumeno: The class of “Japanese expression research”, which is a class in my major, is the most memorable. Korean students and foreign students take this class together, and there is one interesting part. In this class, Koreans should speak in Japanese and Japanese people in Korean. I realized it is important to try to speaking a lot even if the grammar or expression is wrong. I’m sure it is helpful to practice speaking a lot.
Do you have opinions about the “One-To-One Program”?
Wang: I want to say thank you for helping with the 1:1 match of a Korean friend through the One-To One program. I usually go to a cafe with my Korean friend to chat or eat and study. While talking, I can improve my listening skills and learn practical Korean (like slang) better than through textbooks. It is a practical program for me. Some Korean partners are not good at Chinese or English, so I would like to have a friend who can speak English and Chinese.
Shaposhikoua: In Russian schools, teams are made up of a majority of Koreans and a single Russian, not a 1:1 match. So it is not as helpful for every student. But here, it's 1:1 match so we can learn what to say, grammar, and other confusing things. This semester, there will be various events such as CWNU International students sports day and festival. We are really looking forward to that.
Yumeno: I’m so lucky that my Korean friend can speak Japanese fluently. I have to speak English or Korean all the time during classes, so I feel a sense of freedom when I speak Japanese with my friend. Whenever I miss my family, I relieve my stress and have a good time with my friend. By the time, when I go back to Japan, I will miss this friend.
By Lee Yeon-ju, reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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