The Hanyang Journal chose four Hanyang University (HYU) undergraduates who have studied abroad in four different countries and interviewed them about their overall experience. We heard the reasons why they chose each country and the fruitful memories they made. The interview questions were picked solely from questions asked by HYU undergraduates who are hoping to study abroad as well. We hope this article will give helpful advice to those who are wondering about life as an exchange student in the country they desire to go. If you want to read more about their interviews, please visit www.hanyangian.com
Yoon Kyung-duck (Division of Mechanical Engineering 14) studied at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) for two semesters. “I chose to go to America to experience new things and improve my English. Above all, I wanted to use expensive research equipment that wasn’t available in Korea. I was able to achieve all of those goals and thus highly recommend students with similar desires to apply for the program,” he said.
Q.Are the courses similar from the courses you took in HYU?
A.Engineering courses were quite similar; grading includes quizzes and exams about the lectures we listen to. However, unlike in HYU, in America we were required to take an average of 2-3 exams and frequent assignments and quizzes. Moreover, unlike HYU, all of the courses were based on an absolute grading system. Thus, most students were always willing to help each other out on the courses. From what I’ve heard, the situation is quite similar throughout most universities in America.
Q. Were there opportunities to make relationships with natives and other exchange students?
A. Yes, of course. UT Austin runs a program where they pair up an American student with an exchange student, just like HYU’s Hanmile. Moreover, there are other programs in which international students gather to go on trips together and enjoy diverse social events. Participating in club activities is also possible: I enjoyed Social Dance, and another exchange student I met told me how he was able to become friends with American students by participating in a cooking class hosted by the school every week.
Q. Could you explain the US university holiday schedule?
A. Winter break in the US is for 3-4 weeks, which begins around December 15th. During the semester, Thanksgiving Break is for about ten days, and Spring Break in March is also for ten days. In the case of the Thanksgiving Break, friendly American students usually invite exchange students to spend Thanksgiving with their family. During Spring Break, most American students enjoy going to the beach and partying.
Hwang Hye-jo (Department of Chinese Language & Literature 15) studied at Tsinghua University (THU), Beijing, for a semester. “HYU’s Chinese Language & Literature major requires students to spend a semester to study abroad in China. I chose THU because it is one of China’s most prestigious universities, and is ranked globally based on its academic reputation,” she said.
Q. What did you often eat during your time in China?
A. The university I went to has various kinds of restaurants all around the campus, so there are many choices you can choose from. Since there are many Korean international students, you can easily find cafeterias that cook Korean dishes, so you don’t have to worry about the food being too strong. To give you a helpful tip, delivery services are well developed in China, and due to the K-culture wave, you can easily have rice, kimchi, and stews delivered to you.
Q. Which means of transportation do students usually use?
A. Bicycles, motorcycles, and buses are mostly used for campus transportation. Most universities in China have an extremely large campus, so students generally buy a bicycle to move around. For those who enjoy speed or often go downtown, motorcycles are more preferred. Motorcycling in China does not require a driver’s license, thus exchange students ride it too, but you must always be cautious. Moreover, students usually take the bus when traveling out on weekends. Rickshaws, the subway, and taxis are other options, but these means of transportations are mostly used outside of campus.
Q, Were there opportunities to make acquaints with Chinese and other exchange students?
A. THU’s entire Chinese Language and Literature major consists of foreign students. Thus, just participating in class activities was enough to make friends. To make Chinese friends, participating in club activities is a good way. I enjoyed yoga and calligraphy, where I made a lot of native friends.
Lee Eun-sun (Department of Sports Industry) studied at ISC Paris Business School (ISC Paris) for two semesters. “I chose to study in France because I wanted to improve my French. ISC Paris being a part of the highly selective French Grandes Écoles, the academic reputation for its high-quality education was appealing,” she said.
Q. Are the courses similar to the courses you took in HYU?
A. Unlike HYU, ISC Paris had an active classroom atmosphere, where students were given the opportunity to talk freely during lectures. This had both positive and negative effects on my learning: I could express my own opinion and hear other students’ ideas, not just those of the professors’. On the other hand, at times when I wanted to concentrate on the lecture, it was difficult to listen to the professor and I was often distracted by conversations going on around me.
Q. Are there any precautions that exchange students need to take considering the current state of public security in France?
A. Not only France, but all of European countries are going through a difficult time because of terror. However, these threats are not eminent in our everyday lives, so there is nothing to worry about. Just remember, to stay out of trouble. There are rules to keep in mind: avoid going out at night by yourself in Paris, avoid the 18th, 19th, and 20th arrondissement at night, do not talk back to strangers following you, and keep your bag guarded in public places.
Q. What did you often eat during your time in France?
A.There is a canteen within the campus, which serves pastries and fruit for breakfast; pasta, sandwich, and pizza for lunch; and students can always get coffee to go. Still, most students prefer going to nearby malls to get cheaper and better lunch options. Personally, I prefer getting a takeaway sandwich from bakeries instead. For dinner, students cook their meal or go to restaurants of their choice in other parts of the city.
Song You-jung (Division of Materials Science & Engineering 14) studied in The University of New South Wales (UNSW) for a semester. “Since there were many immigrants, I believed I could experience diverse cultures. The fact that Australia is an English-speaking country was also a big thing. Above all, its exotic landscape and unique animals prompted me to choose Australia,” she said.
Q. What is the natives’ attitude towards Korean students?
A. There are many immigrants in Australia, thus it did not seem like the natives’ attitude towards foreigners was different from that of the locals. I stayed in Sydney, where there were especially more foreigners and international students, and I could not feel any kind of discrimination or see locals treating others differently. So, you don’t have to worry about racial discrimination or any other racial hate crimes.
Q. Is it possible to experience Australia’s exotic nature while attending classes?
A. Sure. I stayed in the eastern suburbs of Sydney where there were beautiful beaches within 30 minutes radius from the UNSW campus. One of my roommates even learned surfing during the semester. Furthermore, the Australian train system was so convenient that I could visit many beautiful sights in about an hour. On Sundays, public transportation systems in New South Wales cost only 2.50 dollars, so I enjoyed visiting distant places. I either rent a car with my friends or participate in one-day tours when visiting places that are hard to reach by means of public transportation.
Q.Are the courses similar from the courses you took in HYU?
A. There was a huge difference in the relationship between the students and professors. Students called professors by their first names, and professors were more interested in students’ daily lives and were less authoritative. Moreover, as a student majoring in Engineering, there were more lab classes in Australia than in Korea.