I know that making a first step is difficult for anybody. However, I also know that just taking a shot is better than doing nothing. I caanot remember exactly what triggered me to apply for an exchange student, but I obviously needed to bring something special to my life. Now I’m pretty sure that my life in Baldwin-Wallace College (B-W College) helped me achieve my goal. I experienced a totally new life and it changed me to communicate with people with different cultural backgrounds.
B-W College is located in Berea where it takes only 15 minutes by car to Cleveland main city. At the first week I went to Cleveland city by train with the ambassadors, who are the regular students of B-W College and in charge of helping international students adjust. At first glance, Cleveland was not a big or fancy city at all. However, that small city was so beautiful. All buildings were covered in heavy snow, even the frozen lake in the middle of the city. That might be my first impression of Cleveland; a beautiful snow city.
Compared to Ewha, B-W College is a small school. They have around 4,000 students and most of them live on campus. For one semester I took five classes all of which had less than 30 students. I think that’s why I could do my best in my class everyday. I remember I was always nervous when I just started out. In class, the professors asked me to explain my opinion to the other students, which was very stressful. However, looking back, those chances to speak out and debate with native English speakers made me braver. I always feared making mistakes, but soon I found out that my classmates and professors didn’t expect perfection. My job in class was sharing ideas and providing a different point of view.
During the week-long Easter vacation of the spring semester I travelled with my friends, which was hands down the most exciting moment of my experience abroad. We took a train from Cleveland to Washington D.C. and another train to New York. Everything I saw and heard was special. We kept walking the road, following the American history in Washington D.C. and visited every attraction in New York. I sent a post card to my family and wrote; “I don’t know how to say thanks for letting me come here. I’ve learned how big this world is and am motivated to go on with my life.”
Since I came back to Ewha, a lot of students preparing for the exchange student program have asked me about my experience. I always answer; “there is no reason to hesitate. Just take the first step and then everything in your life is going to be fantastic!”