This fall semester, more than 150 exchange students came to Ewha. What these students from all around the world brought with them to Ewha not only new and different perspectives or an open mind to learn about the Korean culture. Rather, they also brought and continue to bring with them “someone.”
Many international students on the exchange program have invited their relatives, friends, and especially their parents to come to Korea. During the last two months, at least 10 international students invited their parents and families to Korea. Alban Caron (IESEG School of Management, 3), an exchange student from France, said that it was a good opportunity to invite his parents to come and to show them his life in Korea. As he is French, it is his first time coming to a distant Asian country to study for 4 months. His interesting daily encounters, life as an exchange student at a women’s university, and the unique culture of Korea caused him say over the phone, “Mom, come to Korea!” “I like the Korean food very much, and after I started to learn Korean, I discovered more interesting aspects of the culture of Korea,” said Caron.Temples, palaces and Korean restaurants are some of the places he visited with his mother. They commented that drinking traditional tea in a nice cafe in Insa-dong was especially enjoyable.
Another exchange student, Lydia Cho (University of Denver, 3), a Korean-American, said that it was quite touching for her parents to visit their motherland again after such a long time. “My parents immigrated to the United States 27 years ago. But they had not come back even once. It is a great chance to invite them to come back during my exchange in Korea,” said Cho. Her parents came to Korea last month and took her to their hometown.
Is it a common practice for all exchange students to invite their families and friends to the country in which they stay? The case does not seem to always be the same for the out-bound Ewha students who are going abroad for an exchange program. An anonymous Ewha student who had been to the United States as an exchange student last year said, “I went to America because I wanted to experience a different way of life, and enjoy freedom in another country. I was so busy with my new friends in America that I don’t think I really considered asking my parents to come.”
As exchange students live in Korea for several months, they have more time to understand Korea than any typical tourists. They usually visit different historical sites during holidays and experience different life styles through hanging out with their local friends. Yu Hashimoto (Mukogawa Women’s University, 4) who has been studying at Ewha for almost a year says, “So far, about ten of my friends visited me. Since I can speak Korean, I can act as a guide for my friends when they tour around Korea and also take them to some great places to hangout.”