I can still describe so vividly how the first day of my life as an exchange student was in Norway. Not only was I all alone in the country, but it turned out that I was the only Korean at the University of Agder (UA). So I decided to start talking to other people, even though I was a person who was too shy to do such a thing. And I started a conversation with a Polish girl next to me and she became a really good friend of mine. Soon I also met a lot of exchange students who were from all over the world and I hung out with them all the time having fun. Every day was full of excitement and joy. The series of days in Norway was like Christmas Eve for me, since I could not wait to wake up the next day.
After finishing my semester in Norway, I also traveled by myself for almost two months, around Europe. Sometimes I met friends who actually lived in a city where I was traveling, and sometimes I visited a friend’s house, too. It was quite an amazing experience. Not knowing who I was going to come across, what was going to happen, without even a clue, I just started a day. Surprisingly, it felt so great and I found out that six months of life abroad had changed me. Then, for the first time in my life, I truly understood the meaning of a sentence which says, “We cannot know what would happen even right at the next moment. That’s why it is so much fun to live life.”
The me of the past was a person who was afraid of living knowing nothing about the future. So, I chose to be stuck in my daily routine rather than to try something new. I thought that ‘being safe but not happy’ was much better than facing the fear of unknown. But now, I have experienced that whenever I got out of my daily routine and started something new, amazing things happened. Whenever I decided to accept the unpredictableness of life and enjoy it, life always gave presents to me. I finally have become a person who knows how to embrace the unpredictableness of life and enjoy riding the waves of life.
|▲ Park Su-min with her international friends on a trip to Oslo|
Actually, I was able to have such a valuable experience in Norway because I met so many good friends. And the exchange student program helped me to meet such good friends. UA operates supporting programs for international students’ adjustment to new circumstances. First, events for exchange students are held mainly through the Erasmus Student Network, which organizes a variety of parties, excursions, etc. for international students. There is also a Facebook page where you can get information about various events and participate in them. There is also a gathering which is called 'Coffee Hour'. Every Tuesday, from three to four o'clock, you will be given free time to eat coffee and waffles. Most of the exchange students are there, so you can have fun chatting with your friends as if you were in a cafe. If there is anyone who is still considering whether to go abroad as an exchange student or not, I would say, give it a try. Because “on the other side of fear are all of the best things in life.”
By Park Su-min, Senior, Dept. of English Education
박수민, 영어교육학과 4학년 firstname.lastname@example.org