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Foreign Students on Korean Campuses

Posted November. 29, 2006 06:44,   


“Several years ago, it was granted that Korean students would make up their own English names, but now American students prefer being called by Korean names such as ‘Min-soo’ rather than their own names like ‘Douglas.’ Also, there is a growing number of foreign students who like to interact with Korean students, for example, cheering together at games between Yonsei University and Korea University, or giving gifts on Bbaebbaero day (November 11),” said Choi Eun-seok (26, senior in political science), a student at Yonsei University.

Foreign students are proliferating on Korean campuses. They make up their own Korean names, join school clubs, and follow Korean students’ culture in order to mingle with Korean students.

Universities are competing to increase lectures in English and establish a special space only for English in which foreign students feel at home, such as Global Lounge (Yonsei University), International Lounge (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies), and E-Lounge (Chung-Ang University). As a result, interactions between Korean and foreign students are becoming more active.

“I can encounter foreign students anywhere because there are many lectures done in English, even Chinese Classics and Korean History,” said Lee Se-ho (24), a third year student in sociology at Korea University. “Every Korean student has two or three foreign friends as we have many team projects. As a result, I don’t need to take a private English lesson.”

Chongju University has attracted 800 Chinese students. Among Korean students at Chongju University, there is an increasing number who go to China to travel or study.

However, some criticize that there is a limit in active interaction because most foreign students usually hang out with each other in their groups.

Kim Ji-hong (25), a third year student in Electrical Engineering at Korea University, said, “Two out of four major lectures are done in English, and there are five or six foreign students in each class, but it is not easy to make friends with them because classes take up much time and they only communicate within their group.”

Meanwhile, foreign students point out that universities are only trying to attract students from abroad without any conditions. Rather than accepting foreign students with ability, universities accept anyone coming from overseas, thereby lectures sometimes do not work.

“It is not too much to say that there is only an interview as an admission test. I’ve never heard of anyone failing to get admittance from graduate schools,” said a Japanese student at the graduate school of Yonsei University. “It is good to increase the number of foreign students, but it is more important to attract excellent students.”