• Name: Min Kyung-tae
• Grade: Senior
• Major: Department of Architecture
• School: Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
Q1. Why did you choose Germany as an exchange student?
From early on, I was interested in Germany. I wanted to go there to travel. Therefore I thought it would be a great opportunity to go there as an exchange student to live for a certain period. There are some other reasons why I chose Germany, such as the stage of great literary, philosophers activities, the culture of enjoying beer, and enjoying music. About all things, I think the biggest reason was that I wanted to live in Germany and experience how rich Germany and what is the leader of the European economy and a good country to live in.
Q2. How did you prepare to be an exchange student?
First of all, I needed to get a good English score, because the qualification for an exchange student requires a TOEIC or TOEFL score above a certain score. I got an appropriate TOEIC score, and I practiced German for six months because the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences̕ classes were conducted in German However, when I studied at there, the words that I practiced did not have a chance to use. Personally, I recommend you to choose a school that teaches in English. It was too short time to learn another language for six months and take a class.
Q3. What is the most memorable class during your exchange student period?
I remember the German language class. If you go to Germany as an exchange student, most of the schools held German language classes for one month before the beginning of the semester. From the beginner to the master, they can take a class which fits their situation. I think it was a meaningful time to know about Germany before the semester started. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity for me to get to know other exchange students.
Q4. What are the differences between Korean culture and German culture?
There were some differences in public morality, individualism, eating, living, and leisure culture. One of the most memorable things was public morality. Especially there were some strict actions not to do, such as walking on a bike road. However, there was lenient morality. Lots of people were smoking on the street compared to Korea. I think many German thinks it was okay. That was also different from Korean culture.
Q5. What was the most memorable or impressive activity?
I think it was traveling. It was also the first reason why many students choose European countries to go to as an exchange student. Unlike traveling in one or two Europe countries for short time, if you live in Europe, you can travel many Europe countries for long time. For example, I had lived in Frankfurt, Germany, which had convenient transportations. Therefore I traveled a lot. I took a train to Paris, France during the weekend, and boarded a plane to go to the Amsterdam, Netherlands for the next weekend. There was the pleasure of traveling that you can only experience during the exchange student period, just like you were invited to your friends’ house.
Q6. Did you have any problems or inconveniences as an exchange student?
Cooking was the hardest. It was very inconvenient to cook in Germany. Some of my friends were okay to eat bread or pizza every day, but I was not. Thus, I went to Korean supermarket, bought some ingredients, and cooked in the dormitory. It was hard to go around to buy the ingredients, and the kitchen was a communal kitchen, so I usually skip meals. However, people might say “why don’t you buy it?”, but German’s eating out price was high (about twice that of Korea’s) and I did not like German food. Though I felt difficulties because of the food, when I left there, I miss the food that I ate there.
Q7. How was your dormitory life?
In Germany, unlike Korea, the dormitory has a communal kitchen. We ate ourselves and only the bedroom is independent. I liked that I could use a sufficient single room in an inexpensive cost. Although it was quiet inconvenient to cook, it was good to make some friends who lived in dormitory when we were using the kitchen together. One of the inconvenient things was that we all had to use the key to enter the room. To German, using an electronic button door was not familiar.
Q8. How did you feel when you came back from Germany?
Before I left Germany, I missed Korea so much. People who live in Korea all the time may not know it, but when you go out of Korea, you often suffer from unfamiliar surroundings and culture. I also went to Germany alone, and I was very tired of learning and going through strange things. It was the most convenient time when I was in an airplane returning home. However, when I came back, I regretted that I did not do everything I could do in Germany. I think I could do better if I went back again, but it is probably hard to go there again as an exchange student.
Q9. What do you want to say to students who are preparing to be an exchange student?
Do not hold back and give it a try. I think it is a precious experience that you can only do when you are an university student, and it is an opportunity that you can develop yourself. There are so many countries in the world that you have never seen before, so I hope you will step into the wider world with this opportunity. Before you leave, please improve your English skills (especially conversation) and learn in advance about the country’s culture and history. It may not only be helpful to your early life adaptation, but also be a good background for making friends. I hope you can experience a successful exchange student life.
Byeon Sae-eun, Cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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