Selasa, 18 April 2017

[Exchange Student Life] - Life of a Student

Back then when I had a chance to visit Japan in 2014, the mighty sakura hadn't bloomed yet. It seemed like I miscalculated the date, since flocks of tourist will flood Japan at around April or May to witness the glorious Sakura, but it wasn't.  I didn't want to miss my class on my first semester after I returned back for good from Korea, so flew to Japan before my semester was started. 😒

Just because Sakura is incredibly popular in Japan, so most people (or was it just me?) placing Japan and Sakura in a complementary term. I thought that Sakura is only existed in Japan, that's how it become famous, because you can only meet them in Japan. But I was wrong. Spring in Korea, taught me that Sakura is also exist in Korea in the name of blossom. They have a different name, of course. We called it Potkot in Korean. My American teacher, called that flower 'cherry blossom'. From that time, I stopped calling that type of flower with Sakura, and calling it with cherry blossom instead. It's like you meet a Jasmine in some western country and you call it 'Melati' in Indonesia. Same type, different name.

Sakura in Japan, Potkot in Korea, Cherry Blossom in... all over the world?
But wait, I'm not completely wrong, right? Evidently you can meet Sakura only in Japan. If you meet that flower in Korea, you won't call it Sakura, but Potkot instead 😝😝😝


Okay, back to the business.

When I took a walk, I recall it with Moe-chan, we went to the building that I expected to be my faculty, where my classes will be held into. My faculty, the Business and Economy Faculty, located near by the rear gate, side by side with the big library ad also the office of international student affair. The building looked a little bit old compared to the other building. It had 4 floors, my business classes usually held in 3 and 4th floors. The size was almost equal to other faculty. The Business and Economy Faculty building had an L shape and they have garden with benches and a wood canopy in the middle of it. 

Business Building and clear-blue sky

Magnolia trees were existed in the outer side of the building.I pressume that magnolia is one type of spring flowers? Because I didn't see them in the other season. The magnolia's petals are quite big, probably it was on size of the palm of my hand. Sometimes it's purple, sometimes it's white. 

I took courses that mainly taught in English. Well, I wasn't that confident to take Korean taught classes, except the languange class. There were several class where Korean students were the main attendees and also there were classes where international students became the main attendees. When I joined the class, I could sense different atmosphere among the classes.

 On the class where the vast majority of the attendees is Korean, the classes were usually quiet. The lecturer gave a long and uninterupted speech. Even in the class the lecturer always asked if we had a question, as far as I remember, there were no question. If they have question, the students came in the end of the class, and asked it pesonally to the lecturer.  The korean students tend to sit on the back so the first 3 or 4 rows were usually empty during the class. Sometimes the lecturer gotta asked them to move forward so the class wouldn't look so empty. I usually sat on the second row, just in case the lecturer forget about me 😜 When the lecturer, or we called them professor or Kyosunim, threw questions, the class went silent. The lecturer sometimes needed to point a random student to answer his or her question.

An Indonesian, A Japanese, Chineses, Argentinians, Hungarian, Taiwanese,A Kazakh, An Ethiophian, and a Thai and Koreans in this North-East Asia Economy Class.


However, I found that there were Korean students who were quite participative in class. Not many, but they existed. Those students were usually very clever too, like, if the professor wants, they can mention 20 countries that joined G20 without any single mistake! On the other hand, the passive students, you wouldn't hear any noise from them unless it was the end of the class. I guess it resembled my class in Indonesia? Except the fact that in Indonesia, I know some people who were not participating enough in class but they talked during the class😝

In the class where international students were being the main attendees, the class usually more vibrant. Well, you can expect it from a room full of different nationalities, languange and perspective. Students were more participative to give their opinion or perspective, or even experience. This vibe, somehow brought positive energy that made the Korean students became active as well. Often times, they were afraid to give their opinion because of the language barrier but slowly, they could overcome it. When Korean students join the hype, the class will be more interesting since we had new perspective from natives.

My Canadian Teacher



Also, there was a class which most of attendees were Korean, but most of them speak a good English and they were very active in class. It was an Advance English Grammar Class.

The students were allowed to take classes outside their major, I don't know if it was a privilege for international students or not. I took some classes from my major in International Trade, and I took several classes from Economy Department, English Department, or Languange Classes. I had been taught by professors from various nationalities. I have a Korean kyosunim, a Canadian teacher, an American teacher, a Ethiophian teacher, a British teacher, or sometimes I've been taught by a Korean teacher who had lived in US for several years so you can say it was like you have a Korean- Westerner teacher. One thing that I learned, the lecturer, or so called 'Dosen' in Indonesian, usually have been through more than 3 degrees. I had a Korean lecturer, he taught me Finance, and he graduated from around 5 different universities, and around 7 degrees. I think that's why the profession of a university teacher is seen very highly with the community. Because they study a lot, in a very long long time.

Talking about the classes, I am reflecting into something that you can say, a regret. It wasn't about things that I did, but things I didn't do. I feel like, I should initiate more conversation with Korean first. Sometimes, I was so nervous and I wanted the Korean people initiate the talk with me. To think about it.. it's not their culture to talk to stranger, but it is my culture to talk, and to smile to people whom I don't even know in Indonesia. When I was in Korea, I feel like they put a barrier to foreigner. I saw the barrier and I was afraid if, they won't like it if I talk to them first. Little did I know, perhaps they were thinking the same. Perhaps, they're afraid to bother me if they initiate a talk with me since they're not familiar with my culture. Perhaps, I didn't give an obvious sign that says "Of course you can talk to me!" I wish I can understand about it earlier, that they were not put their barriers intentionally. When you initiate a talk with them, slowly, the barrier will be lifted. I wish I broke more barriers with them. 

The language probably limit us to talk about a lot of things that we want, but it doesn't mean that we can't become a good friend. Korean have a nice sense of humor (well you can see it from their drama or variety shows) and they love talking. They love belong to a group and they hate eating alone - probably that's why a lot of Korean asks "Bab Mogosso? - Have you eaten yet?" to their friends. English is not their first languange, neither mine, so I should understand that hesitation when I have to initaite a talk in the language which isn't our first language. The thing is, you cannot expect people to do what you want (in my case, initiating a conversation). You gotta start it by yourself first. You can't always expect people (in this case, Korean) to come to you, greet you, asking you questios about where do you come from, what do you think about Korea or even a question like 'why don't you wear a hijab when your fellow Indonesian wear it' (the most common question that I often got from the taxi driver). Well, they exist, but not many and most of them were ahjussi and ahjumma. You should initaite the talk first. They won't bite you, and it won't kill you.

To think about it, it's impossible for them to do rude or bad things to me just because I initiate a talk nicely and politely, right? 

That stranger, the man in the middle, was just a passer-by who took photo with us. Oh yeah, he was the only Korean in this photo as well.


That's travel 101 from me. Talk to strangers.

1 komentar:

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