Experience is the Best Teacher
International Researchers of the Campus
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What could be the most difficult challenge a student can face? Perhaps, it is to get all straight A’s in every class, socializing with new people, making it to graduation, or getting the degrees. Then, what if all these tasks had to be carried out in a foreign language and in a foreign country? It is easy to decide to go abroad for a short trip, but it takes considerable prudence and courage to make the decision to go abroad and reside for studying. From ordering food in a restaurant to attending Hanyang University, the international research students in Hanyang are facing daily challenges in Korea. Three international research students shared their story this week.
میں کوریا میں خوش ہوں. (I’m happy in Korea)
Saba Haq (Life Science, Doctoral Program) is a research student from Pakistan, whose research primarily lies in the treatment of cancer. Since her youth, Saba has always been interested in biology and not in any other subjects. After majoring in Life Science, she was determined to go abroad to get her Ph.D. The time period during which she was offered the scholarship for foreign students by the Korean government was called the Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSV). After coming to Korea, she spent a year in a language school in Busan to learn Korean. Through her experience of studying Korean in Busan, she was able to familiarize herself with Korean culture. She added that staying in Busan was one of her best experiences because she became acquainted with students from all over the world and learned about their cultures as well, while learning Korean. “I also love Korean dramas such as ‘It’s Okay, It’s Love’, ‘Boys over Flowers’, and ‘Secret Garden,” smiled Saba.
It has been a little more than two years since Saba came to Hanyang, and there has been many ups and downs in her life. Although she barely has any communication problems because her professor is a foreigner, and a lot of her lab mates are English speakers, she sometimes struggles with her research. “When it’s the end of the week, and I don’t have a satisfying result, I can’t motivate myself for the following week. In such a case, my friends and I encourage each other because we are in a similar situation.” She confessed that compared to her own country, the working hours in Korea are generally longer, which makes her feel exhausted, sometimes. “This could be one cultural difference. In Pakistan, we have time for family after working. But in Korea, people work until eight or later. I wonder when they spend time with their family.” Nonetheless, Saba has had no particular difficulty in adjusting to her new life in Korea. “I think I became a stronger and a more self-dependent person because I taught myself how to survive by myself.”
"不怕慢，只怕站.” (do not fear slowness, fear stopping)
Yu Chung-won was a transfer student from the Business School in Hanyang in 3rd year, heading into the graduate school after graduating. Currently researching on the relationship between the street culture and the result of the Olympics, Yu is interested in finding out the impact that street culture has on the number of medals a country could acquire in the Olympics and how the Olympics could affect the streets themselves. As Chinese is her mother tongue, doing the research in English is one of the difficulties she faces. Having to understand English and translating the knowledge into Korean requires a strenuous effort. However, this could be an inevitable aspect of studying in a foreign country. “I want to thank my Korean friend for catching the errors in my paper after writing,” grinned Yu.
Her interest in Korea first sprang when she was a middle school student. Being a big fan of the K-pop group named Super Junior, her decision to come to Korea was not only fueled by an academic purpose but also partially by her love for hallyu. Even to this day, she buys albums and goes to concerts. “I went to a Korean language academy in middle school to learn Korean, which was run by a Korean couple. I always wished to live in Korea and experience the culture.” Now that she has fulfilled her dream, she has a lot to talk about her experience. Since Yu is from the southern part of China where it never snows, she was not comfortable with going to the public sauna at first, not to mention the body-scrubbing lady who continuously offered the service, both of which she is familiar with now. She tries to improve her Korean skill by trying to watch the television without subtitles, communicating with her fellow Korean students, and enjoying the culture. Yu is still not certain about her goals after graduating from Hanyang. As for now, she is enjoying her life in Hanyang.
ຂອບໃຈ! (thank you)
Toulany Thavisay, entering Hanang as a Ph.D. student from Laos, is in his 5th semester now and has done a wide range of research so far in the field of International Management; the broad idea of which is sustainability of the economy in Korea and consumer behavior. As a research student in Hanyang, Toulany has a tight daily schedule: waking up early in the morning and studying late until the night, barely having any free time. When first coming to Hanyang, one difference he noticed was the education system. He confessed that as a foreign student, adjusting to the system was a bit challenging. In Laos, the university makes the syllabus and provides students the syllabus, whereas in Korea, students are responsible for every task from organizing the time table to registering and dropping courses. Nonetheless, he never considers such difficulty as an obstacle, but rather, a positive challenge. “When you’re living in a different country, it’s something you have to go through and learn. I try to view all the challenges that I face in a positive manner.”
As a KGSP student and having studied Korean in a language school for a year, Toulany’s Korean is very fluent, going beyond just communicative. “My Korean teacher told me that if I wanted to learn Korean, I had to like Korea first.” He remarked that practice makes perfect and that being good in a language is very beneficial because the more you communicate, the more friends you make and the more things you can explore about the culture. Being fluent in Korean helped him to understand Korean culture better. “What excites me a lot in Korea is the style of living and its infrastructure, in terms of the public transportation and its accessibility and speed of the Internet.” He refused to call the cultural difference a culture shock but rather an experience. After going back to Laos, his goal is to become a professor in the university he graduated from. He is eager to contribute his knowledge and the experience back to his school and expand the educational development in his home country.
It’s all about the climb
Even though taking the first step is always difficult, nothing is impossible. Through consistent effort and continuous challenges, big, hard walls can be broken down into constructive stairs. The international research students of Hanyang will always surmount any difficulties and move toward their goals.
Jeon Chae-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Jin-myung
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