Kang, Min-ji 기자2016.08.29 03:42:23
Already a month and a half have passed since I arrived at Incheon National Airport, and the final exam of my summer session has just finished. The adjustment to Korea was way faster than I had expected. The memory of five months in Europe was beautiful and dreamlike. Looking back, participating in the international exchange program was one of the best choices of my university life.
Beyond doubt, studying abroad as an international exchange student was a great opportunity to grow up as a global leader. As my future career goal is to be a global financial specialist, international experience seemed to be a must. For me, the life of an exchange student meant living in a totally unfamiliar place, communicating in a foreign language, meeting various people, studying business from a different perspective and method, and travelling around a lot. Furthermore, the exchange program was a great opportunity to experience foreign countries and universities.
Although being an exchange student was an exciting thing, the process of preparation was extremely stressful. The biggest problem was that the ICN Business School in France was not my first choice. It was not even on my application form. Frankly speaking, I never expected to go to university in France. I had no information, was not influent in the French language and was worried about the high cost. Besides, since ICN starts its second semester on the second week of January, I had to finish all my preparation before the end of December. It was such a headache to prepare all the documents and administrative processes while taking 19 credits, doing extracurricular activities and studying French at the same time. Actually among all the selected KNU exchange students, I was the first to leave Korea. What was worse, terrorists attacked Paris a month before my arrival in France, so whenever I felt like dropping everything, continuous self-persuasion was necessary: "It will be okay. The experience will be valuable and worth this stress".
The biggest gain from the exchange life is friends from all around the world. The English track of the ICN Business School consists of 30% of French students and 70% of international students. We could easily become close friends thanks to many common points. The students of the English track were divided into two groups and students in the same group as me took every lecture together. Lots of group projects made us even closer. Besides, most of the international students lived in the same student residence, which was allowed to have dinners and parties. 'International Dinner' and 'Amsterdam travel' were the most memorable events that I had with my international friends. 'International dinner' is literally a dinner with international food. Each team or individual has to prepare food of his or her own country. Thanks to this event, I learned how to make Gimbap, Bulgogi and Jeon. Although team Korea had difficulty in explaining the difference between Sushi and Gimbap, preparing and sharing each other's food was extremely joyful. It was also very exciting to travel to Amsterdam with 10 international friends from USA, Thailand, Denmark, France, Germany and Mexico. We rented cars, shared the hostel and walked around together. It was the first time for me to travel with foreigner friends and it was successful. We had a huge group but enjoyed three days without trouble.
While getting along with my international friends, I always tried to set a good example. That is because my behavior, attitude, words and everything were probably the first image of Korea and KNU for others. I tried my best to be punctual, considerate, responsible and kind. Actually, so-called Western students sometimes had the preconception that Asian students are shy and always stick together. To overcome the preconception, I tried to say 'hello' first and to start conversation with a smile. I realized that communication itself was important, even if not in perfect English. Trying to communicate and get along with international friends improved my English speaking fluency too. Due to my effort, I could make really close friends who still keep in touch with me by Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, What's App and so on.
Not every moment was happy. The French are proud of their own language, which made my exchange life several times more difficult. French people do not know English of do not like it. Living in France as an Asian stranger without speaking French was an extremely tough thing to do. Documents, websites and everything else were in French. French administration and strikes are already well known but they were far worse than I expected. It took a month to open a French bank account and two months to get the subsidy from the government. The electricity company charges money without a full explanation and all the administration was done randomly. Institutions habitually lose documents of clients and require new ones. They have web pages, but most administration has to be done by snail mail or personal visit. I really missed Korean fast work and customer service. Strikes are not unusual in France and I myself had difficulty in taking trains because of the strikes. Lastly, the wifi and internet service in France were terrible.
Looking back on my 5 months, including 4 months as an ICN Business School student and one month of traveling, numerous things happened. I tried to take as many pictures as I could and kept a diary. All the bad memories faded out and became trivial ones. Experiencing a new world, becoming more independent, and communicating with various people, were the benefits of my amazing days in Europe, in addition to increased knowledge of Business Administration. If someone is hesitating to study abroad, I would strongly recommend him or her to grasp the opportunity and explore a new world.
The KNU Times