The only thing I knew about Korea was the location on the world map. I only knew that it was a dynamic country where the rate of growth despite the crisis freeze 3 percent. I didn’t want to know any more about Korea because I wanted to discover everything by myself.
Very quickly I was surprised by the wealth of Korea. Its culture, its people, and everything led me to believe that I made the right decision to choose this destination and start my life as an exchange student.
I have been in Korea for almost seven months and I have no regrets. Koreans always treated me very well. I will never forget their smiles, their generosity and their sympathy. Meanwhile, the cultural clash between France and Korea is not violent, but it’s nonetheless noticeable due to the language and food.
I study Business at Ewha. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be doing that, I wouldn’t have believed them. This is probably my best university experience. Unfortunately time flees and the end of this trip is already looming on the horizon.
At first I found it a little intimidating to be the only boy in my class. Lost in the middle of Korean girls with my beard, I struggled to understand my classes and Korean culture. But day after day, I realized how nice it was to discover this culture and meet such great people. Even though I occasionally miss France and my family, there is always something in Korea that makes me feel good.
Every day I have a surprise, something that surprises and disorients me. It may be the shoemaker who offers me a glass of Makgeolli, Korean traditional alcohol or my neighbor who invited me to an exhibition.
I think I was very lucky. I always met friendly and generous people who made me discover the country and the culture. I had the privilege of experiencing incredible things in Korea like the Seoul Success Awards, a Korean wedding or rafting in the mountains. I am pleased and honored to live in such a country, where the subway is always clean, where people almost never sleep, where there is kimchi at every meal.
At first, I had trouble eating Korean food. It is always hard for a French guy to live without his cheese, his wine and his baguette! I spent a lot of time to get used to Kimchi. But I am happy to have discovered so many meals and to have been able to eat live octopus or dog soup.
In two months I am to leave this country which had so graciously welcomed me. I will miss many things. But I sincerely hope to return to Korea, whether for work or to visit this country again with my family. I have to enjoy the rest of my time here to do what I did not have the opportunity to do. I cannot see what we can say disapprovingly about this country. I cannot see what kind of negative memories I could bring back to France.
Experience at Ewha taught me a lot about myself, about how to look at another culture. All my time in Korea will help me later for work and for my social relationships.
I will never forget the memories in this rich and beautiful country.