Two years ago, I was one of the students who were eager to participate in Student Exchange Program. I took the TOEFL and prepared for the interview during the summer vacation and finally got accepted to Deakin University in Australia. To be honest, going to Australia was not my real dream, as I study Art History as a double major, I wanted to go to New York or Paris to visit world-famous museums like Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Pompidou Centre. However, during the final interview, I was still hesitating to choose a school. At the last minute, a simple sentence from the interviewee changed my life. “If you choose Deakin University in Australia, by this time next year, you will be lying on a beach, getting a tan and sipping cool juice from a coconut.” “Sold!” A few months later, I was lying on a beach with some of other exchange students from all over the world. I travelled almost everywhere in Australia with other international students and did almost everything I dreamed of: Fancy parties, crazy dormitory life, scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef and even skydiving. However, my exchange student life was not perfect. As soon as I arrived in Australia, I started to struggle with racism. It was very difficult to make local friends. I could feel some distance and felt like an outsider for a long time. But I knew that I did not have enough time to be frustrated by these problem, so I gave myself quick solutions: First, be sociable and confident. Show that you are sociable. Second, try not to hang out with Koreans or speak Korean no matter how lonely you are. The solutions worked. Koreans like a calm and modest personals, but Westerners like outgoing and sociable personals and parties are the best opportunities to show your confidence and social skills. Also, hanging out with the people from the same country and speaking your native language is isolating oneself from the society. It has been almost two months since I left Australia and I miss there so much. The experiences in Australia gave me an opportunity to face and overcome problems that I would not have known if I had just stayed in Korea. So, Ewha Students, why don’t you join the exchange program and experience what you have never expected? It could be hard but worth it, because we are young!
* Bae Ju-young (Chinese, 4) studied at Deakin University at Australia.