Guidelines for Foreign Students on Making Friends
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Guidelines for Foreign Students on Making Friends
  • 민 주 기자
  • 승인 2007.03.02 00:00
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             Friends are just friends to Korean students studying at Ewha. However, friends mean more to those at Ewha with different hair, eye and skin color. “Korean students have their own life and family here, but foreign students are different. Foreign students do not have anyone else to share their life with. So, we tend to rely a lot on our new friends that we meet,” said Mario Willems (University of Cologne, 3).

             Just as many students are excited about their upcoming years at Ewha, but at the same time are worried about the difficulty of making real friends at a university, foreign students are equally or perhaps even slightly more burdened by these concerns.

             There are various ways for foreign students who have just arrived at Ewha to make great friends, as well as for those who have already been here for some time. To provide a guideline for those who are worried about making friends, take a glimpse of how some foreign students are making friends at Ewha:

Clubs

              “The best way to make friends at Ewha is to find a club that matches your interest. I have joined EDiS, a debating club, and met many great friends,” said Nurliana Kamaruddin (International Studies, 2), who came to Korea last year. She did not even sign up for an EGPP mentor during her second semester because of the great friends she already met in her club. Kamaruddin advises other foreign students not to hesitate joining a club at Ewha for the fear of being the only foreigner. She added that even though some Korean students speak broken English, they can be as good of a friend as any other foreign student.

             Elisabeth Ingelgum, who came to get another degree after graduating from Katholieke Universitieit Leuven, has joined the marital arts club at Ewha with two other foreign friends. “It is hard to meet Korean students and become friends with them during class, but I had the chance to get to know a lot of Korean students in this club,” said Ingelgum.

             Moreover, there was also a tea party and a piano concert for international students last month held by Ewha MOSAIC. International students, including students from Yonsei and Handong University, gathered to associate and listen to other students playing the piano, ocarina and saxophone. Students also learned to sing in different languages.

             Last but not least, there is the Ewha PEACE (Professional Ewhaians at Cultural Exchange) Buddy, in which a great number of foreign exchange students at Ewha take part. Six months have passed since Ingelgum first came to Ewha. However, she was confused and lonely with no friends when she first arrived in this unfamiliar land. Her PEACE Buddy assisted her in adjusting to the new environment by helping her with her foreigner registration, buying a new cell phone, becoming her friend and by introducing her to other foreign students. The club also organizes programs to provide exchange students with memorable experiences in Korea.

Dorm Life

             “There are so many memories that I have of living at the Hanwoori Hall in the past year. The dorm is a place where I could encounter fun that I could not experience in or out of our campus” said Josephine Gachwe (Computer Science, 1) as she was moving to the graduate dormitory, where the EGPP students live after one year in Hanwoori hall.

             “I will miss the dormitory deans at the Hanwoori Hall. They feel like part of my Korean family now because I see them every morning and night. The EGPP students even became friends with the security guard and he even helps us with our Korean class homework,” said Gachwe. She says that it is important to always smile and be open-minded to the people that you meet in the dormitory. Just starting a conversation with someone inside an elevator will become the first step in making a new friend.

Outside of School

             There are also activities that foreign students can enjoy outside of the campus. Many foreign students go to parties or gatherings that are hosted for foreign students. For instance, on February 28, a festival for Japanese students in Korea was held in the Yonsei Alumni Building. About 300 hundred students participated in the festival to meet other Japanese students in Korea. The students enjoyed Korean traditional music, dance, and taekwondo. There are a lot of parties for like these for foreign students to enjoy. “If you participate in these parties, you will be able to meet a lot of other foreign friends who are from Ewha,” said Willems.

              Moreover, there are many programs offered for foreign students to experience Korean culture outside of Ewha. There are gatherings for foreign students to group up and go sightseeing around South Korea. “I often go to Yonsei University and watch movies at Yonsei Movie Day, which is held every two weeks. During Yonsei Movie Day, they show us Korean movies with English subtitles. The Movie Day is for foreign students, but Korean students sometimes come with their foreign friends too,” said Ingelgum.

             Foreign students do not seem to be any different from other Korean students studying at Ewha in terms of where and how they make friends. As with other students, they make friends during club activities, at dorms, and outside school. However, there is one thing that is particular to them: whether they are the ones being sought out or the ones reaching out to others, there is a need for open-mindedness among international students when making friends. “No one, international student, will be unfriendly if you reach out to them first, whether you are a foreign student or a Korean student,” says Gawche.


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