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KU Insights

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Voice of International Students
  • Writer : Communications Team
  • Hits : 2395
  • Date : 2022-07-08

Experience with KU
Voice of International Students


▲(left) Phineas Underwood (U.S, George Washsington Univ. Business) ,(middle) Jasmin Julia(Finland, University of Helsinki Computer Science, (right) Zalwa Appiliana(Indonesia, UNPV Jakarta, International Studies )

Despite ongoing disruptions due to Covid-19, Korea University has continued to accommodate international students from all over the world. In fact, as of the Spring semester in 2022, the number has reached at 1,003, the largest ever for the past 10 years as we attribute such a growing number of international students to the increased awareness of KU and Korea as a whole. Below is the interview given for KU exchange and visiting students to get a better understanding of what they have to say about their experiences at KU and in Korea.

Q1: How did you hear about Korea and what made you decide to come to Korea University?

Phineas says: The first time I heard about Korea was through Chaebol firms like Samsung or Hyundai seeing these in my day-to-day life back home in the U.S. I walked into my school's study abroad office and learned about Korea University through a partnership my home school has with KU. When searching for abroad opportunities, I was searching for a different culture than I was used to in the U.S. A new experience that could teach me more about the world and my place within it. One that would provide me with opportunities to continue my growth and development in new unorthodox ways. These reasons highlighted Korea University as a great choice for me to continue my growth and learning.

Jasmin says: In 2017 I became a fan of the K-Pop group BTS and quickly my interest in Korea as a whole began. Korean culture and food, the language, and artistry all have their rightful place in making me fall in love with Korea and keep me coming back here time and time again.
The first glimpse at what Korea University has to offer I got through a YouTube video posted on the “영국남자 Korean Englishman” YouTube channel. It showcased the university festival culture which thoroughly blew my mind. Students singing, chanting, and moshing to songs performed by the KU cheerleading team. The experience is so unique to Korea, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I swore to see for myself!

Zalwa says: The fact that Korea University is included in this class, brought me a lot of consideration when I was choosing a host university under Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry program, IISMA. Korea University’s amicable values and promising programs for international students are the one that made me choose to study here for 1 semester.


Q2: What were your first impressions about Korea before and how they have changed since your time here?

▲ Startled by the hustle and bustle of the Seoul city

Phineas says: I remember my first experience of culture shock was a moped following me on a sidewalk, something I would never see at home in the U.S. I was a little startled after initially beginning my journey in Korea. As time progressed and I started to find my place at KU and become more familiar with Korean culture and values, I started to realize my fears were misplaced. My current perception of Korea is how wonderful and different it is from other nations across the world. I enjoy that my life here is an adventure that begins every day.

Zalwa says: As I have always only seen Korea through the screen such as Korean dramas, movies, and K-pop content, I can imagine Korea would be such a romantic and dramatic country. I was also encouraged by my relatives to meet celebrities since Hallyu has been world-widely spreading. Meanwhile, having a natural encounter with celebrities is not that easy. Some of the impression remained and some of it is not the same anymore. I still find Korea is one of my top desired countries to stay because of its convenient access to anywhere and its tasteful dishes.

Q3: How does studying at KU and the KU campus life differ from your home university?

Jasmin says: I noticed quite fast after offline classes started that campus life here is very different from back home. All different majors here are so intertwined, coming and going from the same buildings, sharing study halls, going to the cafeterias, studying at the many cafes around campus, and living at the university dormitory. You end up meeting so many different people from different majors and backgrounds. Back home in my own university, each field of study has its own campus so being a science major our campus is 40 minutes from the humanities campus where a lot of my friends are. We also do not have dormitory housing for students nor such an extensive student-oriented neighborhood. The dorms at KU are right next door to the campus so you are bound to be completely immersed in the KU student life.

▲Enjoying 2022 KU's Ipselenti Festival

Zalwa says: I experienced the collectivist value of connecting Korean and foreign students through student events such as ISF, KUBA Field Day, and IPSELENTI. Through these events like ISF, we can show and introduce our culture and lifestyle to Korean students and through KUBA Field Day, we can gather as one to play sports together with students not only from Korea but also other part of the world.

Q4: What are your most memorable moments at KU?

Phineas says: The first week I was at KU my KUBA(Korea University Buddy Assistant) buddy reached out to me and invited me to go out to dinner. To this day it remains one of my fondest memories. Everyone at the table had a different background and an original story to tell. All of us had extremely different experiences but were still able to sit and break bread and learn about our differences. We all sat for hours bonding over Korean BBQ and sharing how our cultures are unique.

▲Finnish Traditional pies called Karelian

Jasmin says: For KU’s International Student Festival exchange students hold booths that showcase their own cultures, food, songs, games, and anything that you can think of. For the Finnish display booth, we planned to prepare traditional pastries called Karelian pies. This meant baking hundreds of pastries until 1 a.m. the day prior to the festival. No regrets! the process itself was so much fun and everyone visiting the booth seemed to really enjoy the goodies with a shot of Finnish vodka!

Q5: what would you say about KU’s unique culture that you experience for yourself?

Jasmin says: There is such deeply rooted pride for students to attend Korea University, no doubt because it is one of the SKY universities but also because KU is a very lovable community of people. It is fascinating to see so many students around campus represent themselves with KU varsity jackets, hoodies, joggers, bags and-themeded study materials. You get a feeling that students really love their school and it is also a special feeling to be a part of that as an exchange student.

Zalwa says: The culture of KU’s senior and junior is quite common among KU students. It’s like a tight bond and close connection between KU seniors and juniors. I knew it through my Korean friends who told me that KU seniors usually take care of their juniors by buying a meal or helping with study, meanwhile the juniors always respect their seniors. I find this term very unique and very KU.

▲With KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistant)

Q6: How studying at KU has affected your career plans for the future and what is your plan?

Phineas says: I hope to one day work in international business after graduating college. KU has shown me that I have a passion for working with a variety of different individuals from different cultures. I have courses here with a variety of different groups with people from all different areas of the world. Everyone brings such unique experiences and perspectives to the project helping to enhance the overall final result. KU taught me practically applicable everywhere in my day-to-day life.

Zalwa says: I assume that it became my turning point and gave me a huge opportunity for my future career. Korea University would definitely become one of the universities that I would consider studying at because of all the amazing experiences that I had here. I would consider taking the same major, International Studies, or other departments for my graduate study. It would be such an honor to have an opportunity to come back again here.

Q7: Any additional comments you would like to share with KU community?

▲ (top left) Phineas against the Graudate School (top right) Zalwa at Tiger Statue (bottom) Jasmin at the Squirrel path

Phineas says: I would like to say thank you to the KU community for everything they have done to help me feel included and welcomed in Korea. The memories I made here will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Jasmin says: Whatever choice you make for your exchange, take everything out of your time abroad. Time goes so fast and even a year feels too short now that I am at the end of my two semesters at KU. You’re studying on the side whilst living your best life, so you’re bound to be busy, but take it all in. Even the studying because during classes in a different country you get a different perspective, to view the world through a new lens.

Zalwa says: First, I would like to thank all parties who participated in the process of becoming who I am today. I especially thank IISMA and Korea University who have given me such an incredible opportunity to study as an exchange student. And to all students of KU, as I respect all of my professors here, one said “If you have a chance and time, have it to go abroad as an exchange student”. I proudly could say it would bring such a turning point and gives you a lot of priceless experience in your life. I am hoping to meet you guys whether it is in Korea, Indonesia, or any part of the world! Sampai jumpa (See you), Thank you.

▼See their full interview video clips(Click)

Voice of International Students: United State of America


Voice of International Students: Finland


Voice of International Students: Indonesia


[Photo Su-yeon JUNG(Media & Commnuication 20), Yeji KIM(Chinese Language & Literature 19), Chongrak JUNG(Poltical Science & Int'l Relations 17)]


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