In Hanze university. there are a lot of Korean students!
“When the earthquake struck New Zealand, one of my Korean cousins was apprehensive about my safety and called me on Skype hurriedly. Isn’t it funny? At that time, I was in the Netherlands,” says Sungyi Yoon (22). She was an exchange student from Chung-ang University. Her cousin was confused and thought she was studying in New Zealand because the names of both countries have similar pronunciations in Korean. However, her cousin’s mistake mainly results from the fact that New Zealand is a popular country for Korean students who want to learn English, and the Netherlands is not a well-known country to Koreans.
Nowadays, Many Korean students are eager to take part in exchange student programs or to study abroad. It is because learning English is an important skill needed for getting a job in Korea. Usually students would like go to English-speaking countries such as America, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Jeongwook Heo (20) says: “In my case, I told my friends that I would go to a Dutch university for studying. They didn’t believe it and asked me why I wasn’t going to America.” He is a student of Hanze University and his major is IBS. He continues: “The only things Koreans know about the Netherlands are tulips, windmills, marijuana and Guus Hiddink. That’s all. To Koreans, the Netherlands is too far away.”
Although most Koreans are not interested in Dutch education, there are some Korean students in Groningen. An exchange student from Han-yang University Danbi Park (22) says: “Why did I decide to study here? Actually, I had no option to go to English-speaking countries. I had to select one county in Europe except England. My adviser recommended going to Holland. She said the Dutch have better English skills than other people in Europe. I took her advice. Now, I am in my second semester in Hanze University. I am satisfied with my decision.” Nara lee (20), another exchange student from Han-yang University, mentioned internationality in the Netherlands. “I heard many things about Dutch cultures from a previous exchange student. She told me Dutch society is composed of various races and there are so many Students from other culture in Groningen. I really wanted to make foreign friends and experience other cultures. I thought the Netherlands would be able to give me many opportunities.” In addition, Sungyi yoon and Jeongwook Heo also intimated similar reasons for studying in Holland, namely English and internationality.
On the other hand, Soye Cho (28), who is studying for a master’s degree in Scenogaphy, has a dramatic story of coming here. “In 2003, I was doing stage arts in a theater company and preparing to go to graduate school. At that time, I visited the Prague Quadrennial, which is the Olympics for people who work in stage arts. I saw plays from Netherlands. It was my taste and I felt something different from Dutch plays. That experience made me study here in the Netherlands.”
In 2008, Nuffic Neso Korea was established for the purpose of promoting interchange between Korean institutions of higher education and Dutch ones. It is putting in a great deal of effort but the situation is still inadequate. Sungyi Yoon says: “When I prepared to go to Holland, I was looking for some books about Dutch culture in a local library. There were only two books. One was a guidebook but it was published in the 1990s, and the other was a novel “The Dutch shoe mystery” by Ellery Queen. So, I had to find the information on the web. However, information on the web was also hard to find.” Nevertheless, all Korean students that I interviewed are satisfied with living in Holland and studying in Dutch Universities. “Would you recommend studying in Holland to other Korean friends?” About my last question, they all agreed.
Text and Illustration by Duhyun Ko.
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