You wake up with the sun rise and get up. Looking around, you find three guys from different countries: Nepal, the U.S. and Germany. It makes you think that you are not in South Korea but somewhere international.
However, you are in Korea.
I have lived my entire life in Korea. I do not have any experience in any foreign countries using English. The only traveling experience abroad I have is to Japan for five days about 20 years ago. As a native Korean, I attend Handong Global University, and this semester I started to live in the I-house, the dormitory for international students.
I had never been exposed to international students from different countries before.
As I was growing up, I became interested in English through American dramas and TV shows. Shows such as “Friends,” made me indulge in English. That might seem like an overstatement, but at that time, I realyl indulged in English. I watched every episode at least 20 times. It came to the point where I knew the lines by heart.
But I admit that the first few weeks at I-house were very difficult to adjust because it was not as I expected. I thought I was able to hang with them only if I was extroverted and outgoing. However, the reality was different from what I thought.
The main hardships were due to the language and cultural differences. We could only understand 70-80 percent of our conversations. And cultural differences made us hurt at first.
However, despite my initial situation, everything has been going well because the international students at HGU are very friendly and sociable. That is to say, even though I still have difficulty understanding what they say and what they want, many international students in HGU are open-minded and like Koreans.
It just amazes me when I look back at the few weeks I have lived in I-house because I made more than 50 friends from countries such as the U.S., Canada, Germany, Mongolia, Cambodia, Kenya and even countries like Uganda and Burundi.
“Living on campus together makes students globally united, and it leads to international harmony,” said Daniel Jung-hun Seon, a freshman who has experienced three countries ― Germany, Egypt and Korea.
Professor Scott Lincoln of the School of Management said, “All people have a natural tendency, so they are inclined to be gathered with people having the same nationality. However, HGU offers a cross-cultural environment through several programs like the International Buddy System based on the Christian atmosphere and we are studying more effective training programs.”
HGU offers native Korean students the chance to broaden their perspective safely in Korea. We can learn cross-culture without going abroad. Also there are various programs for Korean students to interact with foreign students besides classes like festivals, club activities and society. This provides the chance for all students to mingle together.
By Byung-ho Anderson Park
Byung-ho Anderson Park is a third-year Global Management and U.S. and International Law student at Handong Global University in Pohang. ― Ed.