It? amazing how similar a student? life can be no matter in what country they are studying in and yet at the same time so different. Coming to Korea, I had expected this of course. I was not naive enough to think that I would be able to step into the role of an Ewha student so easily, but having completed the spring and summer semester here so far I find Ewha to be a fascinating place ?challenging yet adaptable in accommodating its international students.
Unlike the similarity that any student would find in the hectic-ness of classes and student activities, one of the biggest differences I?e experienced since I came to Korea is the way Korean students unwind as compared to the students in my country. It goes without saying that the biggest factor of such differences lies in the lifestyle and culture of both society, especially since Malaysia is a predominantly multiracial country with a huge part of the population belonging to the Islamic faith. Therefore, differences come in abundance should you want to compare between Malaysia and Korea.
For example, Korean students?favorite method of meeting up with friends to hang out would be in the local bars and drinking stalls where alcohol is the main menu. In Malaysia on the other hand, we have something called ?he Mamak culture.?Mamak?generally refers to the Malaysian Indian Muslim community that has very much embraced various local cultures, like local eateries.
They are a Malaysian institute by themselves and no self respecting student can claim that he does not head to his favorite Mamak with his friends in order to hang out, talk and have a drink. The drinks here are along the likes of tea and coffee but are mixed in ways that only Malaysians would understand. The all time favorite would be ?eh tarik?(meaning ?ulled tea? where the special method of preparation includes results in a frothy bubbled covered milk and tea concoction.
Another difference is the MTs or retreats that Korean students frequently take part in. Though the concept does exist back at home, it? not as common as it is here where all the students in a certain club or class regularly hold them. Not only that, Noraebangs and DVD-bangs?re not a common feature as they are here in Korea. Sure, people still go to karaoke now and then but they do not exist in ample abundance like Korea.
In all respect, there are many things that a Korean student might do which our average Malaysian student will find interesting but the basic concept of all these activities are all the same ?to hang out with friends and generally unwind after a stressful day of classes and homework. Students, be it here in Korea or back home in Malaysia are not that much different in my eyes and for all its worth, I enjoy the fact that having good friends here in Korea overcomes the differences in more than one way.
- By Nurliana Kamarudd (International Studies, 1)