Since high school, I was determined to study abroad as an exchange student. I did not have specific reasons, but I thought studying in a new environment would be exciting. Therefore, after my first year at Ewha, I applied for an international exchange program. When I did see my name on the list of the selected, I was very excited. I had almost half a year, and it was enough time for me to prepare myself both mentally and physically.
I did, of course worry about a few things. First of all, I have never lived in the U.S., and especially food may become an issue. Also, I have never shared my room with anyone else, but I will be living with a roommate. Then I realized this experience would not only have a strong impact on my studies and career, but on my living style and personality also. Half excited, half worried, I went to Baldwin-Wallace College; the place I decided to spend one year of my life time.
After coming back home, my whole experience in Baldwin-Wallace can be connotated in one simple word; experience. It was actually a little bit shocking to find out that there were only four Koreans on the whole campus. In addition, almost 90 percent of the students were all from America and Europe. It was my first time to realize that I was really living in a globalized world, and that I could be someone who can be looked as a minority. Due to the small number of Asian students, there were not any clubs that were specifically open to Asians. Naturally, I had to learn how to blend in with other groups regardless of one? race. I was worried at first. However, I learned how to overcome any barrier. I soon found out all these worries were worthless. My closest friends were my American roommate with a German background, and a Brazilian exchange student. Our differences did not matter at all.
Another significant experience was actively participating in school events where I could develop leadership. Luckily there were two huge annual events in school; Culture Night and Chinese New Year Celebration. I thought this was a good chance, and I made it to the emcee of the two events. I also did Korean traditional dance with my dear American friend Eddy. In addition, I volunteered to be a member of a community group. I learned that there were actually many people with desperate needs in the U.S. as well. In addition, I also applied for Youth Service Project. 12 of us were picked to go to New York during Thanksgiving to do voluntary work for people who did not have much financial leeway or family to enjoy this holiday.
Lastly, I learned to be appreciative of little things. There is a saying in Korea that you never know what you have until you lose it. That was exactly how I felt. In Korea I always complained how busy I was, always connected to people through cell phones and the Internet. Yet, soon in America I craved all that.
It was only one out of 80 years, if I am to live close to the average life longevity of Korean women. Yet, it is the everlasting memory that I would cherish throughout my life. I wonder what kind of new experiences and excitements my life would lead me in the near future. Whatever it is, I am ready to jump into it.
Hwang Seung-eun (International Studies, 3) went to Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio, U.S. for two semesters as an exchange student.