An Extraordinary Experience from a Different Perspective
An Extraordinary Experience from a Different Perspective
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2008.03.31 00:00
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: Life as an Exchange Student @ the University of Toronto

New experiences, diverse cultures, and lasting memories for a lifetime – this is how I would exemplify a year abroad as an exchange student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada. Being an exchange student in a foreign country enables one to encounter a variety of fulfilling inner reflections from the beginning to the end. Especially in Korea, whenever people mention the country ‘Canada’, one usually imagines a nation that is somewhat similar to the United States in terms of its culture, food, environment, and appearance of people. However, during my stay in Toronto, the biggest economic metropolis of Canada and one of the most diverse and multicultural cities in the world, I have learned to appreciate the subtle yet distinctive characteristics between these two neighboring countries that share a close borderline but a whole different tradition.

The reason why I came to the University of Toronto is because I immediately fell in love with the city of Toronto when I had visited Canada a few years ago. The vast city of Toronto has so much to offer, especially to exchange students who are filled with curiosity and open-eyed for new cultural experiences. As one of the world's most ethnically diverse cities, Toronto is home to more than eighty ethnic communities from around the world including Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. In addition, Toronto is a clean cosmopolitan city with a proficient network among the tall skyscrapers, clean environment, and cultural attractions. Every street and every corner, whether uptown or downtown, is filled with something original, something distinctive, and something delicious.

As an educational institution, the University of Toronto has been recognized as Canada’s top university and as one of North America’s best public research organizations. Moreover, in terms of student activity, students participate in some of the three hundred student clubs, seventeen newspapers, and three radio stations in and around campus. As an exchange student, the opportunity to soak into a new university tradition, interacting with students from Brazil, France, Egypt, Japan, and the U.S., has provided me with the insight to engage in a campus culture promoting broader perspectives for a broader future.

Furthermore, as personal advice to potential exchange students, I strongly recommend that you stay motivated and strong throughout your exchange period. Once you are in a foreign country, there are times when you think about your life back home, recalling the moments when you were having a bad day; also remembering happy times full of laughter, close friends, and loving family to support you. Life as an exchange student is no different as for going through the ups and downs in your life, except that when you are living in a foreign culture, the range of emotions may be wider and the feelings may be more intense because of the many differences you may encounter and the many changes and adaptations you are called upon to make. As a result, your year abroad is simply not a long vacation in which your principal objective is to have as much fun as possible. It is, in fact, another year in your life, in which a variety of good and bad things will occur; however, a special year filled with opportunities for individual growth and a distinctive academic learning experience.

Thus, while I will be returning to Ewha with the same course equivalents, I will be taking home so much more. The sense of accomplishment in finishing demanding lectures and group projects with fellow students, soaking up the multicultural atmosphere from the school campus, the thrill of looking down from the top of the CN Tower, cheering for the NBA Toronto Raptors basketball team. The memories of eating juicy hot dogs on the streets of downtown Toronto, Tandoori chicken from one of the many Indian restaurants, and gelato from the town of Little Italy …… These invaluable memories will last with me along with the intellectual experience and multicultural environment I have engaged in at the University of Toronto. An exchange term abroad is an opportunity not to be missed. It doesn’t matter where you go, but if you can go, do not hesitate!

Moon Je-sun (International Studies, 3) is spending a year at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada, as an exchange student



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