Around campus, we can often find groups of international students cheerfully chatting with each other on their way to class from the international dormitory. Also, they seem to attend several classes together. Regarding the gradual increase in Ewha students preferring to stand alone, exchange students seem to be more united and close to each other since they are under similar circumstances of staying for a semester or two in a new environment. However, within the ordinary lives of students in their home countries, opinions on Stand-Alone differed from country to country. Some people think this kind of phenomenon is similar to that of their countries, while others think it is totally different.
Andrew Wade (Georgia State University, 4) says there is nothing wrong with eating alone in the United States. “In my school, lunch time is for 45 minutes at noon. There are students who eat with their friends and classmates, or just eat alone. Nobody thinks that someone eating alone is weird because it is common in the U.S,” said Wade. Professor Greg Skwarok (English Program Office), who is from Canada, agrees and says, “Aside from departments such as law in which studying in group for researching and discussions are needed, students usually prefer to stay and study alone.”
Then how about in Japan which is known as a country with one of the most individualistic people in the world? Eri Ohashi (Seisen University, 4) from Japan said, “You can see many people who are on their own in cafes or restaurants eating alone at anytime in Japan, more than in Korea. As the number of those people increases, different places
where you can enjoy yourself alone has increased.” She also viewed this phenomenon in a positive way in that people are becoming more and more independent, rather than viewing it as people becoming indifferent.
Contrary to these cultural background where being alone is viewed as not a negative factor but common, some international students said that it is totally different in their countries. Cristina Kim (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, 4) from Mexico said that students are always with their companies, in and out of school. “When you are alone, people would regard you as weird who don’t have any friends at all. Also, friends of the same major always attend the same classes, so you seem to be always with your friends.” In the case of Linda Luedde (University of Flensburg) from Germany and Ching-yi Chan (Hong Kong Baptist University, 3) from Hong Kong, studying alone is preferred by students while eating alone is regarded as a strange act. “You can see students studying alone in the library, but you would never see them eating alone. Also, unlike many Ewha students who study in the school cafeteria or library, students in my school used to borrow books from the library and study at the dormitory,” said Luedde. It seems to be the same case in Hong Kong. “In our country, you would see students studying alone, but it is rare case to see someone eating alone. If you eat alone, people think that you are a loner,” said Chan.
“Going to the theater alone? You would never see people going to watch movies alone. If that happens, it is a very sad thing for us back in Germany,” answered Luedde with a surprised look when asked if she has watched a movie alone. Wade also says that Americans also watch movies with close friends. However, he added, “When friends are busy and do not have time to hang out and go to the theater, it is totally acceptable for one to download a movie and watch it on one’s own. That’s what many people do these days too.”
Regardless of the different perspectives toward Stand-Alone people according to multinational cultures, most of the international students do not seem to view those who stay alone in school cafeteria as weird because people tend to be too busy to meet and eat with their friends.