Yun Da-sol, The Dept. of English Language & Literature
In recent years, more and more students consider the option of studying abroad. The notion that only a selected few can study outside of the country has been broken for quite a long time now. This year, The CBNU Globe introduces the experiences of CBNU students studying from all over the world to help many others, who are preparing to study abroad. This month’s “CBNU Abroad” will be about the life of an exchange student in the United States. Since the US is a very large country, every state and every city has its own uniqueness and is very different from another in many ways such as in culture, people, and weather. For that reason, this writing will mainly focus on one specific partnership university which is the University of California, Davis.
What to Prepare
Some people would disagree with the fact that practicing English is necessary before going to study abroad. It is true that one can learn the target language after one has arrived in that country. However, if the process of learning the target language is taken place after arriving, the time that should be spent actively using that language will be shortened. For example, freely talking with native speakers, getting immersed in that language, and adjusting to the new environment will take up too much time that is already set up to spend in that country. In that sense, using CBNU’s Language Education Center to study English speaking is a good way to prepare for those much needed and valued English skills before going.
Packing is always the hardest and most stressful thing to do when traveling or leaving for somewhere for a long-term stay. In such a case of studying abroad, there are so many things to pack, which will also make the luggage really heavy. A tip here is to pack as lightly as possible. Carrying less stuff is always the best answer because there is always going to be a store where one can buy anything, even for Korean groceries. Also, another tip is to first make a list of things to pack and sort those into categories like immigration and important documents, clothes, electronics, and others. This way, it is easy to check when packing and spotting the unpacked items.
- Personal Purpose
It is imperative for exchange students to prepare a personal purpose before leaving. To explain more, if one has made up one’s mind to study abroad, there must be a certain reason for one’s decision. The reason which will become the motivation to study abroad will give incredible strength to keep on moving forward. With that motivation, it is good to come up with a purpose for this whole experience and make it into a list. Because, thinking about ‘what do I want to achieve through this experience’ can really help one to straighten the path that he or she might walk while studying.
Residence is also an important matter that will influence making a study abroad experience successful or not. The first thing to do when finding a place to live, is to set a budget of how much one can spend on housing. After that, it will naturally narrow down to the type of housing one should search for. For example, some of the types of housing can be: renting a whole one bedroom apartment, ‘one-room’ studio with a bath and kitchen, or sharing an apartment and finding a roommate. The next step is to actually search for those rooms. The most common way people use to search for housing is through ‘Craigslist’. However, sometimes, one can get a much better deal through ‘Facebook’ group pages if there is one for the city or suburb in which you want to live. For example in Davis, there is a private page for UC Davis students to post housing on sale. And what is good about this page is that it is safer because it is private to only the members that are inside the group and also it is more direct since the purchaser and the seller can be directly contacted through Facebook messaging.
What to Expect
In the US, most of the regular four-credit classes have a discussion session or a lab session. Discussion sessions are usually in liberal arts division classes and labs are usually in science related classes. The interesting thing about discussion sessions is that, it requires active participation from the students to speak up during the session. To actively participate, students must be prepared to discuss about the topic. The professors are more down to earth and asking questions are more than welcome during the class. In some science and writing related classes, assignments and reports are counted as more important than midterm or final exams.
One of the best things about US schools is that they have so many types of clubs such as sports, religion, academics, volunteer, music, dance, crafts, and so many more than one can possibly think of. Joining a club can be a great way to make new friends and also just to socialize with people.
Also there are centers on campus that can help students to succeed in their academic studies, careers, social life, and more. If one is having a trouble with one of the classes, the person can go to the academic success centers for tutoring and can get help with whatever the person is having a problem with.
The location of the school is also important. Since studying abroad also means actually living in another country, it is wise to know where one will be living for the time away from home. For example, UC Davis is located in the city of Davis, which is situated in the northern part of California which is on the west coast of the US. Davis is a small college town mostly populated by UC Davis students and staff members. It is well-known for its beautiful nature surrounding the campus, as well as a safe place with a low crime rate. Since the town is small, one could go anywhere in the city on the city bus. Another great thing about UC Davis, is that it is quite close to other big cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley, which are all in the Bay area. People also drive to Los Angeles on weekends to have fun.
Compared to Korea, eating out is expensive in the US, so many students make their own meals at home. Thankfully, groceries are not that expensive so it is common for students to buy their own groceries and cook themselves. Because the US is a multicultural society, there are all kinds of foods from all around the globe. This can be a blessing to those who like to try out world cuisine. The good thing is that, not only can one go to an authentic ethnic restaurant and be served that type of cuisine, but there are also many different kinds of ingredients from all over the world that one can make their own delicious meal.
The last thing to share about, is the frequent use of SNS interfaces like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others. It is true that many people in Korea also use SNS. However, the point here is the way in which Facebook group pages are used. Like the UC Davis group page for housing that was mentioned above, there are other great group pages that can make life much more convenient for students. For example, there is a ride share group page that is used for both passengers who are searching for a ride to the same destination and also for drivers whom are posting offers for rides in the direction of their destination. This is extremely helpful to those who do not own a car and cannot drive, but need to get somewhere specific, not on a bus route. Furthermore, it is even much cheaper than using public transportation so it is a real deal. In addition, there is a page called ‘Buy and sell’ where people actually post about things they no longer need, but are still in good condition and can be sold. As mentioned above, the transaction and communication is fast and convenient through the message function. It is also safe, since the page is only for the group members. For socializing, there is even a group page for that, which is called, ‘Events and parties.’ In brief, SNS is much closer to everyday life in the US than it is in Korea and it is quite helpful for getting information about many things.
The whole studying abroad experience is really up to one’s self. It could be an amazing memory and a beautiful experience if the person really puts a lot of effort into it, or it could be a sad and lonely time for someone if he or she does not actively engage in their own life. Having a specific purpose for studying abroad is crucial for maintaining a successful studying abroad experience. And it is better to have set those goals before going. Try to stick to them or at least remember them when the hard times come. Lastly, it is best to be active and talkative with others to make friends. The shyness lasts for a second, but the friends you’ll make will last for a far longer time.