Central Washington University (CWU) is one of the six state-supported universities that offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the state of Washington. CWU was first established in 1891 as Washington Normal School. It became Central Washington University on 1977. Central is a public, four year university located in historic Ellensburg, Washington. Also nearly all students who attend CWU, a public school in Ellensburg, are state residents.
Before joining the exchange program, I had a big fantasy about life in a foreign country. Because I have never studied abroad before, it was the first time for me to live in a country other than Korea and live alone without my family members. I made plans to travel east-coast of the United States before going to CWU.
The travel was a good choice. Students who had a big fantasy like me have some trouble adjusting into new life. Sometimes they get disappointed and depressed because life in US is different from how they imagined it would be. However, in my case, I traveled before the quarter started and it let me adjust to the actual life in US.
First of all, the lectures of CWU were awesome. Unlike Ewha’s major courses, classes at CWU consist of small number of students, so it was easy to communicate with the professors. And there are only small numbers of international students in CWU, so students and professors show very kind attitude and interest toward international students.
Secondly, the Kennedy hall which is an international theme house, gave me lots of chances to hang out with local students. Basically, dormitory residents have strong fellowship because CWU has lots of dormitory-based events such as athletics competition. And in the Kennedy hall‘s international theme house, they held a monthly culture night event. Residents choose one country among international students’ home countries and the resident who came from that country introduces the country’s culture and history. During the event residents cook traditional food and organize some cultural experience.
Sometimes people are so straight forward, that they are not reluctant to ask about the prejudice about each culture directly. But this helps us to understand their culture deeper and resolve a possible misunderstanding.
In my case, on “Korea night”, I cooked Bulgogi and Gimbab. Also I shared pictures of Hanbok and many traditional monuments in Korea and taught simple Korean words to students. Through culture night event, not only could I introduce Korea to many other international students but also I was able to learn lots of other different culture and understand others better than before.
In addition, international students are very rare in Ellensburg, so local people wanted to invite us to experience their culture. For example, they invited us to Halloween party and Thanksgiving dinner party. They showed and shared the real American home culture with us. I think these kinds of experiences were really helpful to broaden my perspective.
During the exchange student program I tried to be more active and get close with others. This attitude made me see more of the world. It was very fun in the US but I also want to study hard in and enjoy life to broaden my world at the same time. And now I think to achieve this, studying hard and playing harder and enjoying life is the best experience in exchange student life!
*Jin Yi-ju (Economics, 4) studied at Central Washington University as an exchange student.