I'm really enjoying meeting new people from different parts of the world. Being an exchange student is a great opportunity to meet new people. I was fortunate enough to have two chances of being an exchange student. In 2010, I went to the USA, and two years later, I visited Malaysia.
Life as an exchange student wasn’t easy at first. When I first studied abroad in America, my English was not fluent enough and I couldn’t understand teachers and friends. During class, I recorded the lessons and replayed and reviewed them when I came back. Also, I tried to speak to international friends as much as possible. This was how I improved my English.
While taking classes on campus and the exchange student center, my presentation and writing skills improved. However, I want to tell you that studying only at the exchange student center might be ineffective because it is similar to taking private classes at an English institute in Korea. My principle as an exchange student was “Do things which I can do only when I’m here, not in Korea.” That was, to have the will to change myself and become open-minded.
Being exposed to a new environment is as important as studying hard. While I was in the USA, I got used to the Friday night culture, which was house parties, drinking, watching the Super Bowl, and playing board game with friends. This was part of our daily lives. We celebrated different holidays from different cultures. Celebrating Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Halloween was memorable as well. Since CA has many Christians, I attended an American church regularly even though I don’t have a religion.
When it comes to residence, I stayed at a dormitory for 9 months and home stayed for 3 months. It’s hard to meet Americans when you live in a dorm, but by home staying you can experience real American life. Though it was expensive, I thought it was one of the best decisions ever.
I ‘ve thought the success of exchange student life depended on the number of friends you make.
I made hundreds friends and traveled around together expanding our view of our lives.
Now, I want to move on to my stories of Malaysia. Since it was my second experience, I had less difficulty. Food and weather might be trouble when you study abroad. However, think positively. I did it.
Malaysia is a very attractive country because it has a diversity of ethnic groups who communicate in English. Chinese, Indian, and Malaysians take up a big portion of the country but I could see many African, European, and Asian students as well.
For this reason, the range of experience was wider. I got a chance to play piano with a drummer, Khariul from Bangladesh. We played three songs, which were River Flows in You (Yiruma), Flower Dance (DJ Okawari) and the OST of Full House. I also performed at a Fashion show wearing traditional Indian clothes. Being invited to a Malay traditional wedding was also lots of fun.
As I went to church services in the USA, this time I visited a mosque and learned the Muslim culture. Experiences in these two countries made my life colorful. With these beautiful memories and friends, I will never stop growing.
-Moon Bo Yeon, Dept. of English Language & Literature< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >