Many of the exchange students this semester would have contacted the person who helped them throughout the whole process of coming to Chung-Ang University. If you ever wondered who answers kindly to all of your questions and concerns, he is the International Exchange Student Advisor Assistant, Maxwell Langbehn! Let’s get to know Maxwell and the important role he plays at the Office of International Affairs. This post will help you learn more about Maxwell who will assist you throughout your stay here at CAU!

Q: Tell us briefly about yourself!

안녕하세요, 저는 맥스웰 입니다! 만나서 반갑습니다!
Hello, my name is Maxwell Langbehn and I am the International Exchange Student Advisor Assistant for inbound here at the OIA! I am from the USA, where I am an undergraduate student who studies Film Production at Minnesota State University, Moorhead (MSUM).

Q: Why did you choose to come to South Korea?

I was actually born here in South Korea, in the city of Daegu. But I was adopted as an infant, and lived in the US, all over the Midwest, up until after my first year of university. I have wanted to come to South Korea ever since I was young and I learned I was born in South Korea. I brought it up with my parents so many times, but there was never a good time that worked conveniently for all of our schedules to make a trip. So then, when my friend from my home university told me that she was going to study abroad at Chung-Ang University and invited me to come with her, I of course couldn’t say no. Thus, I would finally start my long awaited journey to South Korea. I have loved it so much here, that I have been here at the university since the fall semester of 2018.

Q: Care to recommend any of your favorite foods and places in Seoul, South Korea?

I would highly recommend these dishes to anyone if they have not tried them yet, they are my personal favorites:
Cheese Pork Cutlet (치즈 돈까스)
Sundae gukbap (순대국밥)
Black Bean Sauce Noodles (짜장면)
Korean Fried Chicken (한국 후라이드 치킨)
Shaved Ice (빙수)

When it comes to some of my favorite places here in Korea, these are a couple of my favorite places to go to and why:
Hongdae (홍대): No doubt one of my favorite places to go to in Korea. There are so many things that are all collectively located in Hongdae that I love, such as: shops, various types of restaurants, bars, clubs, arcades, singing rooms (노래방), and of course my favorite: the busking. If you ever find yourself in Hongdae someday (which I’m sure you will), you may find me busking with my dance team: ‘Red Spark’.

The COEX Mall (코엑스 몰): This is somewhere I especially like to go on the weekends when I have down time. There are so many things located in this one mall, not just limited to shops and restaurants, but also a couple arcades, a movie theater, and even an aquarium. It all feels like a giant ‘one stop-shop’ kind of place. There is even the SMTown COEX located right next door for anyone who is interested in K-Pop music from SM Entertainment. I really like to walk around the mall, and if I ever want to buy something or entertain myself, there is usually always something in the COEX mall to help me with that.

Hangang Park (여의도한강공원): This place is one of the most relaxing, fun, and nostalgic locations that I love to visit here-and-there whenever I have the chance. It gives me nostalgic feels because, where I live in the US, there is a lake near my town that my family and I would go camp at during the summer. So, when I go to Hangang, I think about those memories from back home when looking out at the river, and seeing the boats and jet skis. It’s especially fun in the spring and summer, for people will bring out bubble blowers, kites, and there are all kinds of events that are held there.

Q: What is the most interesting thing you learned about the Korean Culture?

If I had to choose one thing, it would have to be about the seniority among social groups. With age being an important social factor in Korean culture, it has been very different adjusting to this kind of social status based on age, where the oldest in the group has a more respected status. Terminology like 형 (Hyeong), 누나 (Noona), 오빠 (Oppa), 언니 (Unnie) being used in day to day conversation to acknowledge the seniority that a friend holds, is quite an interesting social exercise. In America, while seniority does exist in some social aspects, age is not something that is considered as significant in retrospect. Therefore, I am always trying to do my best to remember to communicate with my older friends, superiors, or elders correctly; though, I still happen to mess up sometimes…

Q: How did you get this job/position?

For the spring 2019 semester, I was one of the GSIs who worked in the E-lounge for the semester. Near the end of the semester, the former OIA Fellowship advisor assistant, Mark Belocura, informed us that he had to return home from his studies and duties here at CAU, to finish his degree back home. The office was then looking for a new advisor assistant among us GSIs then. I was a little hesitant at first to put my name into the hat when it was brought up. But eventually, I decided that this was something I wanted to try and went in for an interview. About a week later, I got an email from the office saying that I was accepted as the new OIA-Fellowship recipient. I was honestly so surprised, but ever since that day, I have been learning so much and doing my best to adjust to the Korean office work environment while being an intern here. It has been quite a wild ride and a completely new perspective, and I will surely never forget what I have learned here when this time is over.

Q: How has your responsibilities and experiences changed from working in the E-lounge/GSI vs now in the OIA?

When I worked in the E-lounge, the environment there was very relaxed, conversational, and most often lighthearted. This is because the E-lounge operates in a social atmosphere, where talking and listening is the main aspect of the job. As an E-Lounge representative, it was always important to keep a conversation going with a student. So I would always try to come up with various kinds of conversation topics to help. Conversations would span from talking about simple things such as: “What do you study here at CAU?” “Where do you want to work after your graduate?” “What year are you in university?” To slightly more interesting conversation topics like: “Do you like watching any specific kinds of shows on Netflix?” “Do you have a favorite musical artist?” “Is there anywhere in the world you want to live/work?” 
Here working in the OIA, the environment is very different, where everything that you do has a lot more weight to it, since the position is so important. Things of course are not as social, with having to work at a computer every weekday, but that doesn’t mean that a conversation won’t spark up between coworkers every once in a while. The way that the OIA gets busy is drastically different compared to how the E-lounge would get busy. Where instead of it being ‘A lot of people that you will have to talk to help with their English’, instead it’s ‘A lot of emails to send out, files to update, and information to save’. 

Q: What is the best and worst part about your position?

The best part of working here in the OIA is some of the global perspective I was able to gain from student’s who came all over the world who have done their exchange here. Especially during the 2019 Global Fair, I went around and got to know about so many different schools, and the students as well. It was also really nice getting to know the GSIs who worked during the fall 2019 semester, and also the GLAMs who I’ve worked with for this academic year.
Not necessarily the worst part, but I think that one of the hardest parts is that sometimes, students can become a little too dependent on the position. In the sense of being repetitive with their questions and concerns, while we always try to provide that information ahead of time in our emails, guides, booklets, and presentations. It can be a little frustrating when we get a question that was answered in one of those examples given, but I also understand that it is part of the job.

Q: What do you think was your most memorable experience working in the OIA?

So for Halloween, my dance team decided a couple days prior that we were all going to dress up and do a special kind of “Halloween Busking” in Hongdae. I didn’t know what I wanted to dress up for Halloween because I had no ideas, but eventually, with the influence of my friends and some other people, I decided to pick the most unoriginal Halloween costume of 2019 and dressed up as Joaquin Phoenix’s: Joker!  On the day of Halloween, I went to the office with all the stuff I needed. I put my make-up on and green color in my hair during lunch. At that point, I only had a couple hours left until I would leave the office to go to Hongdae, so almost everyone at the office was getting pictures of my look for the holiday. It was truly a different kind of day at the office. I even have pictures that my supervisor, Layla Park, took of “Joker working his day job”.

Q: What will you miss the most about Korea and your experience at CAU?

I feel like I have been in Korea, especially CAU, for so long now that it has become like a second home to me. I think what I will miss the most, is that I won’t be able to make any more experiences and memories here for a while when I leave. I of course plan on coming back to Korea sometime in the near future, because I don’t think I could ever stay away after all this time. But it will still be sad and hard to say goodbye for the time being. CAU has given me such a unique experience in my life, and I will cherish it for years to come.

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