On this week’s Students’ Perspective of CAU series, American student Ashleigh gives you her thoughts about being an exchange student in Korea!
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Ashleigh and I am from Colorado, USA. I attend college at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where my major is East Asian Studies.
I came to Korea because my East Asian Studies course curriculum required Korean courses, so why not complete them in Korea?
What are some major cultural differences and/or similarities?
The transportation. There is a significant difference between public transportation in Korea and public transportation in the United States. Everything is super connected and efficient. But compared to America, I think both countries have a strong working culture.
Any tips for American students coming to Korea?
Study! Do not expect to pass a course in Korea without studying, especially when it comes to your major courses.
Also, if you have dietary restrictions or food allergies make sure you do your research about the food around campus and in Korea in general. Sometimes you might have to request certain ingredients to be removed.
(To learn more about vegetarian options and helpful Korean phrases, visit our CAU Vegetarian Guide.)
What Korean cultural aspect do you think attracts foreigners?
I think a lot of it has to do with trends. Korean pop culture is relatively new in western countries–so I think there is a fascination with this new pop culture (music, movies, etc.). Also, the spicy noodle challenge was trending a lot online and put a lot of attention on Korean food.
For a lot of westerners, the relative closeness of South Korea to North Korea is interesting! How is South Korea so peaceful and safe, being that it’s so close to the north? A lot of people are curious.
Why did you choose CAU?
I had a few different choices, but I ended up choosing CAU because my study abroad adviser recommended the school! In all honesty, I was told the mascot was a dragon (I love dragons) and there was a McDonald’s. I was sold!
What do you think of the CAU dorms?
They are really nice! For the cheap price you pay, they are nice! I really like how each floor has its own lounge area for the students.
What are some of your favorite courses at CAU?
I really enjoyed Arts of Korea. The professor liked giving us the opportunity to showcase our culture but also research about Korean culture. You learn a lot about pop-culture as well as history in that class.
What are some differences between CAU courses and your home courses?
The courses are longer. Typically, the courses are 3 hours and the class meets once per week. Attendance is also emphasized in Korean classrooms. Usually, students use a scanner to tap their IDs or use an app to mark their attendance.
What do you like to do outside of class?
I really like watching the street performers in Hongdae! Otherwise, I like to visit the palaces and just go out and explore or eat with my friends. It’s so easy to hop on the subway system and explore Seoul.
What is your most memorable experience in Korea?
I have a few but my first memorable experience would have to be seeing BTS, my favorite k-pop group, live in concert. If you listen to music outside of your home country, you’ll understand that it’s really hard to come across opportunities like concerts.
The second most memorable experience I had in Korea was during the International Summer Program. We went to a Mud Festival and visited a Buddha shrine. The shrine had an engraving of 3 Buddhas in a rock that was on top of a mountain. During the trip, I also saw rocks stacked into large mounds called prayer rocks. The whole experience was so beautiful!
*Photos taken by Ashleigh
Want to read a student’s perspective from France? Brazil? Uzbekistan?
We hope to see you at CAU