||▲ Choi, front row far left, participated in various activities such as the Student Conference on U.S. Affairs, which was held at the U.S. Military Academy.
By: Choi Soo-an (International Studies, 4) is an exchange student at New York
"A frog in a well," as the Korean saying goes, can only
see what the narrow opening of the well permits. She has no desire to learn
further, no motivation to jump higher. Some who may be afraid of what is beyond,
who are complacent with what is familiar, choose to be that frog by choice.
Ambitious students of Ewha, such as I, do not. When I seized the opportunity to
leap out of the well, there wasn? a better place to broaden my perspective than
at a school in ?he capitol of the world, New York University
I had a bit of a fantasy about college life in the U.S.,
which I discovered to be all wrong as soon as I arrived in New York. Being in
the largest city in the world makes the typical life at NYU drastically
different from a small-town college. Football games and frat parties are
obsolete. There isn't a quad for all of the students to congregate after class.
Dorms are more like private apartments, not a place for kids to leave their
doors open and have late night pizza fests in the hall. In a school notorious
for lacking a sense of community, it was hard for me to fit in right
Going to class was the only time I felt like I attended
NYU. They ranged from 10-student seminars to introductory courses of more than
two hundred kids. I had taken several courses on politics and economics before,
and I was surprised that the professors at NYU never took a neutral stance when
teaching. They clearly stated their opinions and encouraged students to
disagree. The kids would constantly argue that the professor's assumptions or
calculations were wrong, to the point where I felt they were being
disrespectful. Instead of getting offended, however, the professor appreciated
that students were paying keen attention. In this atmosphere, I became more
comfortable with speaking up in class myself.
everyone goes off to their own activities. Many students work or intern
part-time during the semester. Having a student visa poses many constraints, but
I found an on-campus job to cope with the city's high living expenses. Also, I
kept my eyes and ears open for events that were being held around the city. I
attended the annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs held at the US Military
Academy, where college students from various countries came to act as US foreign
policy advisors. Being a student at NYU, I've become more proactive in searching
for opportunities rather than waiting for things to happen.
most valuable outcome of my year abroad, however, is that I have simply grown
up. Living in New York is getting a dose of the real world. I have always lived
with my parents, who provide me with everything I need. Here, I had to pay my
own bills, keep track of paychecks, and file income taxes. When I got sick,
there was no one to take care of me. Such fundamental changes shook me to the
core so that even things like studying or making friends did not come so easily
As the year passed, however, I got over my initial
insecurities. By realizing that it is possible to overcome any obstacle I may
face, I grew stronger. During my year in New York, I finally became an adult,
not just by age, but by experience. Although I might have been happier if I had
just stayed as a frog in the well, I cannot stay satisfied with bliss that comes
from ignorance. I am too much of an ambitious Ewhaian to settle for that. After
my year abroad, I now know that the well is no longer enough it is time for this
frog to take on the world.