I am currently living as an exchange student in Müenster, Germany.
What do I need to prepare for as an exchange student? First, the most important thing is language grades. Many students misunderstand that applying to a non-English-speaking school requires language grades in that country. Many universities in Europe include English proficiency in their qualifications for admission. My German is just at the beginner’s level to say hello. I applied for TOEIC certification, and was selected by a university called FH Müenster in Germany.
FH Müenster, my legation bridge, as the name suggests, is located in Müenster. Though it is a small German city, which has a population of about 300,000, you can still experience various cultural events. Müenster’s major lifestyle mainstay is the ‘bicycle.’ Müenster has more bicycles than its population. Bicycles are not just a hobby, but they are a means of transportation in the city. Since there are so many bicycles, there are many bicycle traffic regulations to ensure safety. The most prominent feature is the presence of three traffic lights on a single road. It was very difficult at first with the vehicle signals, pedestrian traffic lights, and bicycle traffic lights, but now I’m used to using bicycles to get around rather than riding buses and subways.
COVID-19 has affected many exchange students. All classes are conducted online, like those experienced by Soongsillians, but the hardest part is that all communication with the school is possible only through non-face-to-face. When I become an exchange student, I have more work to do than living in this school. You need to ask the international team of your counterpart for many courses, from enrollment to grade calculation. Before COVID-19, we were able to visit the office for consultation, but, due to COVID-19, all inquiries were coursed through e-mail only. Of course, you can consult by phone, but German universities are more familiar with the e-mail culture. I’d like to give you some tips on how to write an e-mail to German universities. I felt that in Korea, people write greetings, introductions, main points, and auditors more politely. German schools prefer a more straightforward e-mail format. At first, e-mails used to get longer when I wrote them in Korean style, but now I can send you very simple e mails based on the advice of professors and friends. Familiar with Korean culture, I felt awkward because I thought it was rude to send a simple e-mail. However, in Germany, I learned that delivering opinions concisely is considered an ability.
I had many experiences as an exchange student during the semester. Soongsilians must try becoming exchange students when having opportuniites. Exchange students can learn more about the dispatch country, as well as experience various cultures by living with friends coming from different countries. I went to Germany, and became close with a friend from Kurdistan. I didn’t know much about Kurds before, and I learned about the history and culture of the Kurds. They have a large wedding culture, where they perform Kurdish traditional dances with friends to the tune of traditional Turkish wedding music. It was the most enjoyable memory of my exchange student life. Isn’t it a noble experience to learn about a culture that you’ve never experienced before by making friends overseas? I highly recommend exchange student programs to Soongsilians who want to learn more about the world around them.
(Department of English Language and Literature, 19)