I went to the United States for 4 weeks in January 2011 for the Gachon Global Leader 3rd Study Abroad Program. I studied at the University of California and I stayed in Irvine, California. Luckily, I did home stay and my host was a single woman who is a secretary named Toni. She was very cool and always said to me “Sure!” Thanks to her, my roommate and I had a comfortable stay. Two Japanese girls stayed with us for two days and I talked with them a lot in English and Japanese---though it was for a brief time.
UCI was located 30 minutes away from Toni’s house. American public transportation is not better than that of Korea and I had to wait almost 50 minutes when I missed a bus. I always carried the bus time schedule with me.
I took two types of classes at the extension program. The first type was the main class. The main class is composed of Listening & Speaking, Reading & Writing, and Idioms. In Listening & Speaking we usually expressed our opinions and listened to other students. The teacher was Nancy Leonard and she was a good listener with a calm personality. Suzzane Chase taught the Reading & Writing class. Sue was a very strict and accurate person and she taught us how to write essays. She gave me a lot of homework, but I have to admit that was very helpful. The last class was Idioms, the most helpful one. The teacher was Emily Wong, who was well humored, and she still keeps in touch with me through Facebook. She taught me a lot of unfamiliar idioms.
The second type of class was the elective classes, and the good thing is that I could select the courses. There were TOEIC, Conversation, and American Culture, and I chose Conversation and American Culture taught by Nancy and Emily. I loved those classes, especially American Culture class because I was able to satisfy my curiosity about American Culture.
There were many international students just like me, from Brazil, Russia, Ecuador and many other countries. During the break, Gachon University friends and I taught them Korean and I tried to get along with those international friends, spending as much time as I could with them. We went to beaches and some tourist attractions. I cooked and shared Korean dishes with them and they in return cooked their own traditional food for me. Despite our differences in terms of culture and age, we could still become good friends.
On the weekends and holidays, I went to many nice places such as LA, San Diego, Disneyland, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. All those places were terrific, but the most eccentric place was LA. Five of my friends and I stayed one day in a motel, which was located in Downtown. While we were sleeping we heard gunfire and we were terrified until day break. The next day, on the news, there was a person injured by the shooting. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
There was an occasion in which I saw the differences between Korea and America in handling emergencies. One day, during the lesson, the emergency alarm rang suddenly. Sue calmly talked to us, “We should go out immediately.” Later I heard it was a simulation, but during the drill I believed it was a real situation. On the other hand, I think Koreans often do nothing when the emergency alarm rings, as we tend to believe that it is just a mechanical malfunction. It could be just nothing, but that situation impressed me.
Overall, it was a perfect opportunity for me to be improved not only academically, but also culturally. I also met valuable people that I still keep in touch with. I think the best way to study English is to experience other cultures in person. January of 2011 will always remain unforgettable memory in my life.
-Dep. Urban planning / Yoonjung Lee< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >