Adding spices to Ewha
Adding spices to Ewha
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2008.03.03 00:00
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Matti was an exchange student from Finland. He taught me many interesting things about Finland and Europe last semester. One of the more intriguing lessons I learned, however, was from an incident that involved him and another exchange student, Johan, from Sweden.

We were on the bus ride of our trip. The trip was an event organized for exchange students by the Ewha PEACE buddies. Matti and I sat in the back part of the bus. He was explaining to me how he found Korea to have a similar history with Finland. He claimed that Finland, just like Korea, had been under the control of powerful neighbors in the past. Before he went into the details of the Swedish invasion, however, he suddenly paused. He turned around to find Johan, who was sitting on the other side of the aisle. Then he asked, “What year was it that Sweden invaded Finland?” Johan, seeming surprised, replied, “Sweden never invaded Finland. That area of the peninsula was a part of Sweden until Russia attacked and claimed it theirs.”

Matti was speechless. This was not the answer he expected. Yet sensing the tone in Johan’s voice, Matti carefully chose his words to re-explain his position. Johan, however, was frustrated to have to explicate himself again. He started to speak faster. Segments of his speech became a language I did not understand. By then, it was clear that Matti regretted bringing up the topic to Johan. Matti quietly backed out and agreed, in appearance, to what Johan insisted.

I know little about Northern European history therefore cannot tell whose statement is more credible. One thing certain, nevertheless, is that Finland and Sweden have a historically sophisticated relationship that is today interpreted in possibly more than one way. Though unintentional, Matti and Johan showed me how Europe is consisted of diverse cultures and as a consequence various perspectives. It is only ironic that I learn this lesson while studying abroad in Korea. 

             Approximately 150 exchange students studied at Ewha last semester. Most of them are gone now, including Matti and Johan, but I expect just as many to arrive this spring. Each student brings a unique individuality and perspective to Ewha. I plan to share with the rest of the campus, through the Ewha Voice, the various experiences that exchange students have in Korea; of course, however, I rather recommend Ewhaians to take part in the experience firsthand.


Assistant reporter, Lee Jee-woo (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3)

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