Chonnam National University (CNU) is changing into a global university every day. More and more MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) contracts with international universities are being developed and more and more exchange students are coming to CNU. From this point, we need to understand the life of foreign students at CNU. The Chonnam Tribune interviewed with one of our graduate students, Mohiuddin Ahmed (Bangladesh, English Language and Literature, Korean Government Scholarship Awardee Batch 2007), known as Mahi to most of his friends, who works for LG Electronics in Seoul.
Mahi decided to come to CNU, influenced by one of his seniors who was studying at CNU. Getting a scholarship simply accelerated his decision to come and study here. At first, he had hard time adapting to life in Korea because of the difference in food style. But he overcame this problem as soon as he discovered some dishes that matched his taste. He used the information that was taught in class to survive CNU.
In the class room, hewas eager to change the mood of the class and make friends there. He always tried his best to be active in class. After the class, Korean students approached him and their interest in him increased, so he got to make more friends and acquaintances that would help him to adapt to the Korean way of life.
He said that “My Korean friends also played an important role in breaking my loneliness. They were a great source of encouragement and enjoyment. In a word, they were the soul of my Korean life“. Here is the best tip that Mahi suggested: the most powerful tool to making Korean friends is one’s Korean language skill. When a foreigner speaks a little Korean, it impresses Koreans a lot. It will ease your conversation with Koreans and give you greater access to the Korean community and culture. For him, Korean language skills are like Aladdin’s Lamp.
As well as his friends, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) played an important role in changing his feeling of isolation. After one or two weeks at CNU, the OIA prepared a tour for the new students—it lifted his feelings and he saw an opportunity at CNU and in Gwangju. While the OIA is trying its best to provide ample programs and services to CNU’s foreign population, the expectations of foreign students are so high that CNU cannot reach them. He hopes that there will be a compromise between the two or at the very least, communication should be emphasized to break the barrier between the students and the administration.
Other activities that CNU provides to students are development programs such as the culture diversification scholarship and the challenge scholarship. Mahi said that these programs should be developed to create a CNU that nurtures foreign students who will be leaders in the future. However, he thought that employment after graduation for foreign students must be developed. He thinks that creating a separate employment development center for foreign students will be for the best because opportunities for foreign students are different and the requirements are different as well. Outside the campus, he uplifted CNU by representing his university at various prestigious events. For example, on four occasions he participated in Korean Speech Contests held by different universities and institutions and each time he ended up the competition with an award.
He emphasized that CNU is a land of opportunity to him. His overall experience at CNU was really good. Korean students helped him a lot and he thought he was fortunate that he was able to meet so many good people along the way. Foreign students should learn from him to be more active and try to participate and show to their Korean counterparts that “I can help”. With the cooperation of the administration and the Korean students and an open minded and talented foreign student population, CNU will be a good place to nurture foreign students fit for the world stage.
By Lee Yurim, Guest Reporter