Neither Clarke Foster nor YuJeong Ra initially planned to end up at their study abroad destination.
Foster, a fourth-year International Development Studies and Political Science student at Dal, had planned to spend an entire year abroad in Sweden. “But then someone else wanted to go as well, so when I picked up my acceptance letter, it said I could spend one semester in Sweden and the second in South Korea. I thought, ‘Okay, why not?’”
Dalhousie wasn’t YuJeong’s first choice either. A fourth-year student at Kyungpook National University in South Korea, she nonetheless was excited when given the opportunity to come to Dal. “I got really lucky … Dalhousie is wonderful.”
As an English and Management student at her home university, YuJeong was elated to come to Dal to “learn more about English. I want to experience the language fully.”
Considering the options
Foster works at the International Centre as the inbound exchange student assistant, helping guide students like YuJeong through their Dal experience. Having been through the outbound application process himself, he says it’s not that complicated at all for Dal students to take advantage of more than 100 study abroad opportunities at approximately 30 different schools around the world.
“All you have to do is go online and fill out the forms, research the university you’d like to study at and find a professor who will be your reference,” he says.
“The experience is great,” says YuJeong of her time at Dal thus far. “You get to experience something new every day. Even the ways of thinking here are so different. I have felt to many things since coming here and I have grown more as a person. My perspective is totally different than before.”
Foster had an equally eye-opening experience in South Korea.
“We take Romanized language for granted!” he laughs. “In Korea everything is in Hangeul — it just looks like boxes and lines. It was a learning curve, for sure, but a really exciting one.”
YuJeong is living in residence at Dal (Sheriff Hall) and making the most of campus life.
“In Korea, at my university, there not as many international students as there are here at Dal. I get to meet people from all different countries.” YuJeong was also surprised by the hospitality that has been extended to her while on exchange. “Here, there was a party for international students almost every week when I first arrived. It’s not like that in Korea, where we only really invite friends. Here everyone is invited.”
Adjusting to a new classroom environment
When asked about how the classroom experience differs from their home universities, both students say they adjusted pretty quickly. “The subject matter is very similar in Korea,” YuJeong says of her management classes. “I have learned so many different things from classes here, [like] how to do presentations and participate in group discussions.”
Foster actually met YuJeong while he was in South Korea after giving a presentation about Dalhousie. “I remember telling her that if she came to Dal she would need to speak up. She would need to be more assertive. In Korea, students don’t engage with the professors in the same way.”
“I want to ask so many questions!” says YuJeong. “Here it’s more informal and the discussion between students and professors is amazing.”
Both encourage others to take advantage of study abroad opportunities. “It will change your life,” says YuJeong. “It is really the best opportunity you will have in your degree.”
“No one regrets going on exchange,” says Foster. “You will meet friends you will have for life and employers look on it favorably. It really is a win-win situation.”
The application deadline for Dal students to study abroad is Thursday, January 31. Students can apply online at the International Centre's website.
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