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The Gachon Herald
Student Column
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Updated : 2015.03.25  15:54:45
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

  To study abroad as an exchange student is on my bucket list and something I really wanted to challenge myself to do. Fortunately, I got the chance and was able to bring back unforgettable memories. I am very happy and feel honored to share my experiences through this short essay.
  I’ve never lived in another country before. Also, it was my first time to live away from my family and friends. I was so excited but also a little concerned and frightened at the same time. Since the winter semester in Canada starts in early January, I needed to leave as soon as my semester finished in Korea.
  I stayed in Kamloops, which is four hours away from Vancouver by car. Kamloops is not a very big city. It's similar to a commuter town, so there are lots of accommodations like houses, apartments and hotels but they are not bustling like a big city is. I studied at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. International students account for about 35% of the students attending TRU, and among them, the greater part of Asian students were Chinese. There were only about ten Korean students. I personally think it was an advantage that not many Koreans stayed there. It would be a waste of time and money if I lived with students of the same nationality in a foreign country. I chose a dormitory as my residence, rather than home-staying. Therefore, I was able to live freely, hang out with friends, and get familiar with how Canadian students hang out. However, I had to make every meal by myself. I needed to buy all kinds of daily necessities, such as a pot, spoons, chopsticks, and blankets. In addition, I went to the grocery store to buy some food at least once a week. When the temperature was about 20 degree below zero, it was extremely hard to hold the many things I bought with both hands. Besides, cooking everyday stressed me out because I was not a very good cook. I guess this problem was the hardest for me. I had to do my laundry and clean my room as well. Doing these chores made me feel homesick.
  I took both ESL classes and academic classes. In the very beginning of the semester, I hardly understood the lectures. The speaking speed and pronunciation of the professor was not clear, and I couldn’t even understand some of the jokes he made. Nevertheless, I was able to adapt quickly to the class, thanks to the confidence and active participation of other students. I learned how to study by watching those other students. I used to think that I was behind the other students in class, so I previewed and reviewed every single day to catch up with the class. Of course, during the exam period, I did my best. Unlike Korea, absolute evaluations were used in Canada. That’s why most of the students who had enthusiasm for studying cooperated with each other. The most memorable class was music class. I selected this class because I wanted to be closer to more people in an active class. We sang many songs in a chorus, and we learned ‘Arirang’, a Korean folk song. I was the only Korean in the class, so my professor asked me to teach everyone how to pronounce the Korean properly. I taught them how to sing the Korean lyrics of Arirang as if I were a Korean instructor. I still remember vividly how great I felt that day.
  I believe ‘courage’ and ‘broad-mindedness’ are the most significant things when we stay in foreign countries. We are likely to feel timid when we are not fluent in other languages. At first, I was nervous whenever I went out of my dorm because I couldn’t predict who I would meet and what kind of conversations I would encounter. Accordingly, before going to bed, I wrote down some expressions and responses that I would use the next day. A little while later, I was no longer afraid. Also, I realized that to have a friend, you need to greet first and break the ice, and exchange contact numbers. If you hold back, it is unlikely for someone to come up to you and talk. Furthermore, to challenge yourself with courage helps you grow up quickly. There was a kind of spring break called ‘reading week’ during the semester. I travelled to Western America by myself for ten days. I started my travels with only self-confidence but this short trip made me more mature and inspired me to study even harder. I met a lot of nice local people and got help from them because I was alone. After my semester finished, I traveled to several big cities in Canada with my three friends. Although we had unexpected situations and even lost large amounts of money, I was able to finish the trip with great satisfaction.
  It’s actually impossible to improve your English skills dramatically during a short period of time in an English-speaking country. However, I can say that you will become more confident in speaking English. Also, your attitude towards foreigners can change a lot. I was able to look back on myself and be more passionate about life through this unforgettable experience. If you're hesitating to go abroad, I strongly recommend trying and not to worry! It's possible that you can change your attitude and mind about life. In conclusion, even though my essay may be poor, I hope that those who read this story will get the confidence to start their own unforgettable journey.

   
Park Hyerin Dept. Tourism management
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