EDITING : 2021.9.9 목 22:57
The Gachon Herald
I Became an Exchange Student During COVID-19!
kweagle  |  g.herald1984@gmail.com
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Updated : 2021.06.24  03:28:32
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 “Are you insane?” This was the first word I heard when I delivered to my friends the news of my acceptance of an exchange student position last semester. Many friends had negative perspectives on going on a student exchange during COVID-19. In August 2020, Korea was at the end of the First Epidemic Shutdown and England was beginning the First Epidemic Shutdown. My friends’ reactions were also valid. People could not believe I would go to a country where the number of daily confirmed cases was at least 1000 cases. I was also worried about it. At first, going alone to England without a single friend was a big burden for me, and I was worried about many problems such as racism and COVID-19 infection. But because I like to experience new things, I thought an ‘experience abroad’ was more precious than the concerns. I felt the release from quarantine and the decline of the number of the infected people were a warm welcome from England. Therefore, I became an exchange student in England during COVID-19.

 After a flight of about 16 hours, I arrived at London Heathrow Airport. Even though the tourists lined up in a long line, I passed the notorious visa screening with help from Sam who was in charge of me in England. Thanks to the taxi driver who was waiting for me at the airport, I arrived at Burton safely. When I met the homestay family at 11 p.m., I realized for the first time that I had to spend time staying in the foreign country from tomorrow.


[130 days in England]

 Although I had daily memories that were precious and happy, I want to talk about some special memories with some precious people. At first, I want to tell you about Christmas day with my homestay family. On December 25th morning, there were various presents under the big tree decorated by my family and me in the sitting room. I ate bread and salmon for breakfast and spent time opening the presents. The most memorable gift among many was a teddy bear. My family gave it to me to protect my way back to Korea safely, and I held it tightly on my way back home. I cannot forget the memory of listening to carols while eating Christmas desserts together.
The second one is doing homework at the café with my buddies. Fortunately, there was a buddy program at BSDC(Burton and South Derbyshire), so I did various activities with Hannah, Mike, and Cat. Our hideout was the COSTA café. It was a common experience, but studying at a café always felt like a new experience in England. One day, I had difficulties understanding the English daily papers. Then, my friends, Hannah and Mike considered it their problems and helped with my English studies. I thought at the time that I could be real friends with foreign people. Also, my friend Alice invited me to her house. As I worried about visiting her house in COVID-19, she told me not to worry about it. I had good memories having fun playing the PlayStation and cooking. I felt thankful to my friends who welcomed an unfamiliar Korean. At last, I had to go to London one day to have a photoshoot. Although I tried to look like a native, I was too nervous to get around London alone. But the photographer I met for the first time helped me so kindly. Telling me attractions and good restaurants, he gave me his phone number to help me. I only had good memories evening I expected such memories. What I felt in London was that people are so kind and gentle. Host family, Sam, and BSDC teachers. Also, I was convinced that my friends presented me with precious reminiscence.


[So I…]

 Many students will avoid going for a student exchange because of COVID-19. However, I recommend this strongly. Of course, the activities were limited. In addition, you may not be able to go to places you wanted to visit, and you may be discriminated against. But I really enjoyed England alone thanks to COVID-19. When I went to Oxford, I enjoyed my trip regardless of schedule, seeing the scenery out of the window and being deep in thought. Also, I had opportunities to grow up through communication with new people whenever there were difficulties or curiosities. Another positive output from being an exchange student is realizing that I am not afraid of challenges! I was timid before, but I learned from students who debated without hesitation with professors, gave and took their feedback. As a result, I think the exchange student was a new chance for me, and I hope many students try it.
 

 

   
▲ Lee Ye-Jin
Dept. of
Media Communication

 

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