One year before graduating college I decided to apply for an exchange program. I really wanted to experience more about a new culture after I had a chance to study English in Hawaii for a month, the same year. I was fully motivated to study abroad at that time. I studied TOEFL for the first time in my life by myself for two weeks and took a test one week before fall semester started. I remember when I checked my score. I was thrilled. I got 80. It was the minimum qualification to apply for the program. From that day I started working on my resume and finally got into the exchange program. My next adventure was studying at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.
Northwest University, located nearby Seattle, is a small Christian school but has strong bonds. They provide many programs and activities to join, so it was easy to make many friends. I took seven courses, fifteen credits. Except for two English classes I took five regular classes.
The most memorable class was speech class. Most seniors in the communication department are taking this class so you can imagine how hard the course is for a new comer from South Korea. Yes, it was pretty hard for me to catch all lectures in English at first but thanks to my friends and professors, I got used to college life in the states. While I was taking this class I had to prepare a speech every week. Of course I am not used to writing an essay and speech notes in English so I usually went to a writing center to get some feedback about my writing. I tried to practice a lot and had a small speech practice time in front of my friends in the dorms. At the end, I was nominated one of the TOP 5 students in that class and had a wonderful opportunity to have a speech in front of all my classmates. Without the help of my friends, I could not have done it all.
Also, I had a chance to work as a writer and a photographer at Talon, which is the Northwest University Magazine, for one semester. Different from Gachon University, they have a class called news production and anyone who takes this course can write articles and take photos to make magazines. I participated in the first edition as a photographer. When we had our next meeting I told my members that I really wanted to write articles. Thankfully they gave me a chance to cover a news brief. It was a really great opportunity for me to meet and talk with people in our school. While I was interviewing, I usually turned on the recorder on my iphone so that I could listen again and write it down later. On the last edition, I could cover a long interview article and felt so proud of myself.
After classes, I usually hung out with friends in the library or the dorm’s lounge. During weekends, most students went back home to have time with their families so the campus was almost empty. As I didn’t have any family to visit, I went to church with them and visited their homes. They were my family. We shared food, talked a lot and had a really great time. I felt a warm heart from them.
During the summer I had a chance to work at CELE, which is the Center for English Language Education, as a media intern. It was their first time to have a big summer English camp. Students from more than four countries including Korea, China, Japan and Mexico came to NU to learn English and experience culture. What I had to do was take photos, make promotional videos and guide people. Through this internship I could meet many people who have different backgrounds and I learned from them a lot.
Lastly, the most important thing was communication with people. It doesn’t mean English communication but talk with a positive attitude. While I stayed in the states for eight months I realized that pronunciation and grammar is not a big deal. An ‘open mind’ is the most important thing. If there’s someone who wants to apply for this program, I hope English is not their most important goal. When you jump into a new life bravely then you will get more precious experiences and lovely friends. I am truly blessed to have wonderful friends at NU and all experiences made my perspective wider. Now I am ready for new adventures with diverse experiences from NU and the love of the friends I met there.
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|Shin Eun Young Dept. of Mass Communication