Before I start, I would like to thank God for letting me have such a great experience in UCLA and return to Korea safely. Even though it is hard for me to fully describe how good it was, I am going to briefly tell you about the classes I took and the cultural differences I confronted.
I took two courses: "Speech for Non-native Speakers" and "Communication Studies." In speech class, I had to give four speeches and write brief reactions to other speeches. Also, we had group discussions and interviews with other classmates of different nationalities. From this, I learned that I can actually influence foreigners on what they think about Korea. The reason I took "Communication Studies" is because I wanted to try a "regular" course with "local" students. This course required students to write a paper and had both mid-term and final exams. Classes were not easy, but were a great chance for me to make foreign friends and get to know professors well. Along with a friend from Hong Kong and one from Japan, we helped each other on difficult parts of the courses.
I experienced many cultural differences. First of all, in the U.S., it is people who come "first." For example, cars wait for pedestrians however long it takes for them to cross the roads. Secondly, restrooms are much cleaner than in Korea. I almost never saw a single bathroom that was out of paper towels and soap. Thirdly, there are not many mirrors on campus as in Korea. On Ewha campus, you can easily find mirrors in buildings, but at UCLA I could hardly see any mirrors in the dormitory, so I got the impression that people thought, "I don't care what others think of me." At Ewha, many students wear high heels and mini skirts to school. However, I never saw anyone wearing heels in UCLA. Most students wear sneakers and comfortable clothes. They also wear dressy clothes when going to a party or a club. In that sense, another point I realized was that parties are definitely needed in Korea. A healthy playing culture should be established. In Korea, not so many people go out and play sports regularly or have parties. Lastly, relationships between professors and students are more equal in the U.S. Even though Korean universities are changing, it is still pretty difficult to get close with professors. However, in the U.S. many students chat with professors during breaks and have lunch with them. Moreover, students who came in late for class never apologized but said hello to the professor cheerfully. They also cut in during the lecture whenever they got confused.
To conclude, this six-week-session was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. Sometimes, Koreans who study abroad are not satisfied for not seeing great improvement in their English, and for not making a lot of foreign friends. However, for me, I truly appreciated my stay at UCLA because of the good facilities, weather, and people. Before this summer session, I had had a vague image of American universities with fear for unexperienced territory, but now, I know what it is like and I like it. Lastly, I am thankful for my parents, who supported me economically and emotionally during my time at UCLA.
Choi Jeong-yoon (English Lang. & Lit., 2) studied at the University of California, Los Angeles during the summer session of 2005.