For her semester abroad, Solenne, a student at the INSEEC BBA in Lyon, chose a continent far removed from anything she knew: Asia. Attracted by the economic boom and the cultural effervescence of South Korea, she tells us about this incredible experience on the other side of the world!
A DIFFERENT SCHOOL RHYTHM
By leaving to discover this country, I wanted to discover the Asian culture and new working methods. The academic rhythm is really different, students finish their work day late at night. Koreans are very individualistic, it is common for them to eat alone for example. They are also very competitive and the search for excellence is omnipresent. This is really very different from France. Every day I discover a new aspect about this country.
TIME TO EXCHANGE AND VISIT
All foreign students and a large number of Koreans live on campus. We all live in a community. It is very common for all the students to get together after class to eat together or to have a drink of soju. The classes are composed of foreign students of all nationalities. We have 18 hours of classes per week, which gives us time to talk and visit the capital city of Seoul. The courses are very varied, they are mainly discussion classes where each student explains his or her point of view or culture on a subject that has been prepared in advance. Several sports clubs are available to discover the most popular activities such as taekwondo, Japanese fencing, squash.
SOME APPREHENSIONS BUT A SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION!
When we arrived, the foreign students were welcomed by the BDE of the University. Each student had a Korean sponsor to help us adjust the first few days. I was a little apprehensive when I arrived. It was my first time living on a university campus and having to share a 10 m2 room. The meals are served in the cafeteria and even if I like Asian food in France, I was not sure to find the same flavors here in Korea and indeed it is different but it is to my taste. I miss real pasta though.
I get along well with my roommate so everything is going well fortunately because we have very little private space.
KOREAN LANGUAGE, ALMOST INDISPENSABLE
Koreans speak very little or no English. So it is very hard for us foreigners to make ourselves understood. As soon as I arrived, I had to learn the basics of the Korean language in order to be able to get by in restaurants or in stores. Korean is a difficult language to learn so I try to get by as best I can. At the self-service restaurant, the names of the dishes are incomprehensible so it is always a surprise when you discover what you have ordered when the dish arrives.
YOUR BEST MEMORY IN SOUTH KOREA?
My best memory was visiting a temple with a group of foreign and Korean students. The Koreans gave us a tour, explained the culture, customs, etc.. It was for me a very beautiful exchange and moment of sharing between all our traditions. I am enriched by all the cultures of other students, not only Korean.
I am really happy with my stay in Korea!Updated 24 February 2022