- By CIBA International Program
- Posted November 2, 2015
Short Exchange @ Kyungdong University, South Korea
by Ms. Phisatthaya Suwannaphirom
Kyungdong University (Dong-U-Dae campus) is located in Sokcho city of Gangwon-do province which is famous for the Seoraksan national park and the wonderful east-coast. We arrived at Incheon International Airport on the 1st of June and it took around 4 hours to reach Sokcho. Preparing stuff and managing things after taking such a long trip was quite tiring, but luckily, we met an Indian Unni (means older sister in Korean) who came to study a Korean course for 2 years. She helped us since buying stuff, introducing places, being a translator, and even being an expert advisor. The next morning, our class began with a daze. Our teacher cannot speak English at all and we had just realized that we missed some chapters compared to other groups on this course. By the way, we were provided a tutor who can communicate with us in English and after that, things got better and better after only 1 week. We had more fun both while studying in class and the life outside university.
With our little (but much better than what it was) Korean skill, we spent our lives outside the dormitory by hanging around the town with joyfulness. The Sokcho market was the most frequent place we visited. There was a lot of gorgeous seafood, traditional Korean dishes in Sokcho style, and even North Korean dishes. One thing I like the most of Sokcho is that it was located both by the seaside and the range of Seorak Mountains. Actually, during our first month, the Mers virus had hit all the nearby cities which meant that we could not travel to others cities. But because of the perfect location of Sokcho city, we could visit Seoraksan, Sokcho Beach, Young Ran Ho Lake and River. It has many natural places for traveling!
Sometimes, we also hung around with other groups of students from Indonesia and Vietnam. For us, our Indonesian friends were like old friends as they were the only group that could speak English!! We talked about our countries. We shared many stories both sense and nonsense stuff at the dormitory. We helped each other a lot. I still remember their sad and teary faces when we were leaving.Tthat moment was the first time that I think of how quickly thes 2 months had passed.
Another group of persons who I will always feel thankful to was Seon-Sang-Nim (means teachers). Teachers here mean both the real teachers, teachers at the dormitory and the International Office officers. I have to admit that it is very, very, very hard to communicate things when we don’t know how to say it in Korean as they barely understand English. But above of that, they were always calm and kept trying to understand what we talked about which was very, very kind of them. Firstly, some teachers who once taught or traveled in Thailand were more exciting than others as we were the first exchange group from Thailand. One was the dorm teacher who always made us surprised by knocking on the door at any time. When she was free, she chatted with us about her impressions of Thailand. Another teacher had taught Korean in a high school in Bangkok for a year. She lent us many Thai-Korean study books and gave much advice. The teachers who we most frequently visited were the teachers at the International Office. They were truly friendly. They always joked with us about things they could think of. The funny thing they always teased us was that ‘Hey! I don’t get why you guys don’t have a boyfriend until now’. Do you imagine what my first feeling of that question was? Of course, it was like ‘hmm… so, does that really matter??’ By the way, this is the way of Koreans to get rid of the distant atmosphere which I just found out two weeks ago…
Many people might think of South Korea as a land of cosmetics, trendy Asian fashion and a famous music industry, but as if you are open-minded and think of the other side of a coin, you will clearly see that among those things there are many other things to discover in South Korea especially a small rural city like Sokcho. If you have a chance, it is the great opportunity to learn Korean, try new experiences and feel its own unique warmth and beautiful natural scenery, peacefulness, orderly but simple life, kind people, and new friendships.
And these are all my stories about the short exchange experience in Korea…