I studied at Fudan University in Shanghai, China from 2008 fall to 2009 spring. There were two goals that I tried to achieve at Fudan University as an exchange student.
Firstly, I wanted to accumulate practical knowledge and experience to follow my career goal as an expert in China. For this reason, I tried to focus on my major which is Chinese language and literature while I was at Fudan. I also visited Shanghai Museum and other historical sites to acquire understandings toward Chinese society and culture so that I can get more professional information on my major.
Secondly, I looked forward to fulfilling my personal cultural interest in China and gain spiritual attainment. Every Tuesday, I participated in Fudan University’s student club for calligraphy. Also, as an exchange student for a year, I was able to stay on my own being away from my family. This experience made me to decide on my own and be responsible for my choices which was an opportunity to grow and be matured as an adult.
The most difficult thing I experienced during my stay at Fudan was the sense of inferiority that I continuously felt when comparing myself to the other Chinese fellows. In China, average class size is as big as 50 to 100 students. In such a big class, it was hard for a foreign student to make friendly contact with professors. Therefore, there were only few chances that I could consult with professors as an exchange student.
For the first semester, I was mostly defensive since I feared about lectures and in-class discussions due to my lack of confidence. However, for the second semester, I could study with more relaxed mind, telling myself that I should fight against myself rather than comparing me with others. As a result, I was able to achieve better grades and I even exchange pleasant jokes with my professors. I will never forget the memorable experience of burning the midnight oil with my Chinese friends eating snack during the exam period.
One of the most remarkable experiences was participating in Fudan University’s student club for calligraphy. Every Tuesday, I practiced various styles of Chinese characters with other friends and learned traditional Chinese culture. Each unique style not only displayed difference in the shapes of Chinese characters, but also contains the historical change within Chinese characters over 3,000 years. At first, I learned calligraphy to simply understand Chinese characters and practice how to write them, but as I learned more, I got interested in the history of Chinese characters. By enrolling in a graphonomy class in the second semester, I obtained a proper way of understanding and appreciating the styles of calligraphy that I had learned. I spent my last semester at Fudan University being fully immerged in the charms of Chinese characters.
When I came back to Ewha, I made a decision of choosing Chinese language and literature as my major out of a hope to learn another second language besides English.
My interest on studying China became more determined through this one-year experience in China; I hope to be someone professional who can contribute to strengthen the relationship between Korea and China.
*Son Hayesl (Chinese, 4) studied at Fudan University in Shanghai, China.