|▲ Hu Nan, Doctoral Student, Dept. of English Education, Graduate School|
This time of November is perfect in terms of beautiful weather and we are spared from the hardest time because we are trying to overcome the epidemic crisis together. Approaching the end of 2020, I would like to go back in time to my precious moments spent at Chonnam National University as a graduate student. I hope that my reflections can share some insight to help future international students feel reassured and get themselves better prepared for studying abroad.
Since my first arrival in Incheon airport, admittedly, I began missing my motherland and had inevitable bouts of homesickness now and then. As a foreigner, I had to quickly adjust myself to the unique academic, cultural and social challenges facing me in South Korea and it was quite demanding and sometimes out of my control. However, timely support from the university helped to cure my ‘culture shock’ and stress quickly. In the very first week of enrollment, my university expressed a friendly attitude towards international students. For example, most of the general information which international students need to know is available from either the website of the office of international affairs, the graduate school office or the office of departments. Thanks to this useful information which is easy to obtain, I was able to better prepare myself for my future educational journey. Besides, I can always get an email response providing assistance within 24 hours in case I got confused or encountered a problem in campus life. If I had further questions or required more details, I would always have a happy consultation with supportive officers. Every time, they showed great kindness and patience to me.
In addition to academic challenges inside campus, culture and customs in the outside world is another adventure waiting for me. It is true that the feeling of frustration and homesickness may be magnified at first, however certainly there are some solutions to these problems. Firstly, from my own experiences, trying to practice self-care is definitely helpful. Let’s say taking a walk with friends is my number one tip. The best way to fight off loneliness is to stop feeling lonely and walk into the culture that surrounds you. It is known that Gwangju is a very livable city which means your walk will be very comfortable and relaxing. During your walk, the fresh breeze in the park will make you feel better and joyful. Also, the sunshine will trigger our bodies to release “happy” chemicals to combat the sadness. Actually, in addition to the timely and adequate assistance gained from the university, various people I met in my life also brought so much comfort to me. They are another source of comfort to me. I really appreciated the extra care and concerns received from my supervisor and peers. I am also grateful to the taxi driver who lent me a helping hand to carry my luggage. Moreover, my Korean roommate was so kind to translate every part of the Korean dorm routine into English for me. So, remember, we are not alone in our educational journey and it is important to utilize the resources and seek reasonable help from the university, department, professors and peers.
Looking back on it now, the new challenges I faced in the first place now have, for many reasons, been the motivation and reward for me. Unlike what I imagined, this year living and studying in Chonnam National University has turned out to be the most enjoyable year of my life. For the last year, Gwangju city has been home to me and I believe it has been home to many other students from all over the world as well. This is a land of tradition in which kindness from ordinary people makes me feel at home. This is also a land of innovation in which high-tech facilities make my study experience abroad convenient and effective.
Like the lyrics from Coldplay’s song say, “Where'd you wanna go? How much you wanna risk?” Going aboard and studying in foreign countries is a great opportunity for us to see how our life could be different. Being out of our normal life for a year or two helps us to learn not only about the target country but also more about ourselves.
Don’t panic. Embark on your campus life in South Korea and enjoy every moment of your dream journey.
By Hu Nan, Doctoral Student, Dept. of English Education, Graduate School
Hu Nan, 영어교육학과 박사과정 email@example.com