NEIU Independent | Interview with exchange students
Recent exchange students attending NEIU have had some time to adjust to studying at an American university, such as the recent midterm exams in early March. American society is different from other countries in the world because it is famous for being a place where several cultures and nationalities live together successfully, and the government supports every ethnic group living in the United States.
Having an experience as an exchange student in an American university is the best opportunity for students to broaden their mindset, their horizons and to develop multicultural communication skills which are essential for their future professional career. The Independent interviewed three exchange students who attend NEIU about their experience so far in America.
Our first question was why students choose America for their exchange program. The response was almost unanimous: they wanted to experience an American lifestyle and what American freedom is all about.
Gina Jung, who was from Kyung Hee University in South Korea, told The Independent: “I’ve always wanted to come to the United States since I was very young. I used to watch American movies, TV shows and I began to feel this diversity of unique American freedom that I hold so dear. As a result, I realized that I had to feel and see this “freedom” with my own eyes and soul and I promised myself to visit the United States one day.
Aron Hwang, another exchange student from South Korea, who is studying 3D design at Kookmin University, said one of the reasons he chose America was to improve his English. He said that when you study English in your home country, it is not the same as if you study it in an English-speaking environment.
Hwang added that in South Korea he cannot meet many non-Asian people, and here he has the opportunity to make friends from all over the world and he does not have to go far, everyone meeting in the United States. “I’ve always struggled with my expectations of America, and I wanted to experience for myself what it’s like to be around people of different nationalities.” he declared.
The experience of studying at an American university is an advantage because during the time allotted to students during the exchange program, selected students can learn essential skills by traveling and studying abroad.
Like Dominika Musilova, whose main campus is the Metropolitan University of Prague (MUP), in the Czech Republic, said: “Once I come back to Europe and apply for a job in Europe, to have a note on my CV that I was in America even for a semester would be a really big plus for me, not only because my language skills improved, but also some other skills like communication and getting acquainted with the new environment easier and faster.
What’s different in America?
Jung told the Independent of the differences she’s seen between her home country and America: “Almost everything is different, especially when it comes to tipping culture in America, we don’t have one in Korea, and it’s actually kinda weird to me, it’s really hard to get used to.
Hwang pointed out about his life in America that it feels like a place where no one judges, “In Korea, you can’t really understand what diversity is, and America doesn’t put much pressure on you like this is happening in South Korea.”
Musilova from the Czech Republic has the same opinion, but she added that in Europe it feels like people are less separated than in America: “For example, if you’re broke and you don’t have money, you lose your position in a certain group because American society is very much dependent on an endless circle of consumption and production and the idea of ”quantity”, specifically how much money you make.
She also points out that Europeans are more likely to help if someone is having difficulties in life: it is more a question of the quality of a person that is worth more than money in Europe.
Besides that, Hwang mentioned that finding good quality coffee is also another thing that stands out. From his point of view, American coffee tastes like water with a hint of coffee aroma: “Maybe it’s because Americans usually drink tap water, so that means coffee is made with that water as well.”
Is it easier to study in America than at your home university?
The responses were, once again, unanimous. As Jung said, “I feel like when we compare NEIU to my home university, the professors at NEIU are much, much nicer, and they try to be nice to the students and respect.”
She also added that she likes the small size of the classroom, which is more private, however, there is not much bonding with her classmates. Hwang and Musilova told the Independent that at NEIU, teachers don’t give students a lot of homework, but instead focus on the study process and learning new things by integrating it into situations. and real problems.
Musilova said: “We have more practical tasks and the teachers encourage us to study more outside the classroom.”
Some additional quotes from participants
Musilova then spoke about how an experience in an exchange program at an American university will influence her future career opportunities, she said: “I am really happy to have this opportunity to see all these people [international students] and learn from them, especially their nationality characteristics. She also added that, “It will definitely be different. You will be the one who has seen the world from different angles.
Jung explained the difficult process of meeting the requirements of the program application. She said: “The deadline was so close that I only had a week to prepare for the English exam and to write cover letters and other types of letters. The competition was also very high, the preparation of documents to apply for a US visa was really difficult. But once I got over it all, I finally achieved my dream.
Hwang closed saying, “I’ve always had the American dream which is associated with words like ‘freedom’, ‘fun’ and ‘comfort’, but after coming here I realized it wasn’t the same thing, the people here also struggle with their own difficulties and not everyone smiles at you.
Thank you all for reading this article. And we have one last message for future exchange students: the American “dream” is just a dream, and to see the real country and the real society, you should take off your rose-colored glasses and look at every corner with your full attention. This is how traveling in America and studying in America differ.
If you are still considering your participation in the exchange program, we strongly recommend that you participate. Watching videos on Youtube, reading books and articles about countries is good, but nothing can replace your presence in the foreign environment and being surrounded by it, and the experience of being an exchange student allows you to see the country with your own eyes and understand its secrets and peculiarities. Good luck!