2012 (Pilot Project)

Why I had to go back to Korea? Concordia exchange student tells his story

korean_exchangeFrancois Paradis would like to thank Korea: “Travelling removes prejudice and I totally agree. I’ve never been this open to trying new things in my whole life. There is something about Korea that makes me forget all my worries and appreciate life.” Concordia University has bilateral exchange programs with other top-tier schools around the world. One of these top-notch schools is Inha University, a private co-educational university in Incheon, Korea.

Francois is a Concordia International Business student who, after spending 6 months of exchange at Inha (fall 2009), felt so homesick for Korea upon returning that he went back to do a Master’s in Global Studies at Yonsei University (2011-2013)

Why Inha? Why Yonsei? Why Korea? He begins by passionately saying that “Korea is such an attractive country.” He tells prospective exchange students that the first thing they will relish about Korea is that prices of pretty much everything is economical: taxis, buses, the subway, and good-tasting pretty cakes. “The cost of eating out in good restaurants around the university is cheaper than cooking for yourself.”

On housing, he says that Inha university has dormitories, which are not only cost-effective but also offered him the golden opportunity to often meet Korean students and pick up the Korean language with much ease. For example, “cooking together around 2 a.m. and chatting till the morning is exactly how I picked up and improved my Korean Language.”

He continues telling soon-to-be exchange students that “most people in Korea are so kind and there is this social thing of taking care of others. So many times I’ve found juice, coffee and fruit on my desk given by my lovely roomies. And together, there is this culture of giving small gifts, which I love so much.” He advises that joining a club is an effective way to make the best out of your stay in Korea.

Francois also thinks that Koreans are very fashionable, with most girls wearing high heels and some guys even wearing make-up. He sums up the fashion by saying “everything is so cute, cute clothes and all Korean girls are cute.”

On academics, he offers some wise advice: “Don’t go to Korea if you wanna only study because Korea is really beautiful and it would be a shame not to travel to different places.  Students take 4 to 5 classes. Most of the classes in the exchange program are not difficult to give exchange students the allowance to experience the Korean culture. Moreover, because English is used for the classes and the University wants more Korean students to study English, the classes are made less difficult just to encourage students to take them. On that note, exchange students should not be surprised to see that the finals last just 1hr and is worth only 25%. Therefore, try to network as much as possible and travel as much as you can. I remember I felt homesick for Korea when I travelled to Tokyo. I recommend you go to Busan and Seoul as often as you can.”

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