More often than not, it is a matter of weak will that we point our fingers at. Let’s imagine one certain familiar situation. You are waiting in line at a cafe in the Ewha-POSCO building, doodling with your chosen product with nothing to do, and notice a person in front of you is a foreign student likewise looking around his surroundings with nothing to do. You might bite your lip and search your brain on how to handle your mind conundrum: To talk to him or not? In the end, regret comes over you as the cashier cashes in your product, the foreign student is now out of sight: scenario over.
Most Koreans seem lack the confidence to converse with exchange students out of fear of their own language communication skills. Whether these people will accept you for yourself, and mostly the possibility of them being judgmental of an accent, tone, and everything about the way you talk, is on the line. Most people appear to have problems handling the pressure itself. If so, it seems worth challenging.
“There is no chance to get acquainted with them” is a cliche and an obvious excuse. The fact that many foreign students are around us every day, sometimes somewhere, is in itself a perfect chance to meet these individuals. We work, study, and eat together on the same campus, even in the same classroom, and in the same cafeteria.
Yet we still complain and conjure up these make-believe excuses to cover for our own weaknesses and cowardliness. We could go on easily with our lives and continue to overlook our own limitations, but what of ourselves and even of these foreign students of no fault? What of the impression of Ewha Womans University itself will they have? What of Korean culture? If we think about it, these students have the same motivations as we do when signing up for exchange programs that is to learn of cultures unlike our own for a single short semester or two. The impressions that foreign exchange students construct from the school is all on us students.
There is no doubt that there is many chances to meet foreign students but for those of weak heart, an alternative can easily be provided. The school can play its part and activate more international events where Korean and foreign students can gather to interact and get to know each other. If students often visit the Web site of the school, they can easily get information about internatioal events held on the campus.
In addition to the school’s role, more important aspect for students to work on is their way of thinking. If some consider the boundary between themselves and foreign students, students ought to realize that equality still exists, just like chivalry does in modern society, as cultural differences being aside.
Once one takes the first step of talking to a foreign student, quite assuredly one will wonder what the big fuss was about. It seems foolish in thinking that there was that much difficulty to be a sociable individual, when one does not act in the same way towards one’s own friends. Taking the first step may be challenging, but it is needed to conduct a better image for school, for oneself, and even for the foreign students.