Repeating the same routine every day was draining. I wanted to experience something new and feel excited every single moment. I contemplated whether studying abroad could offer me such an opportunity and broaden my perspective. Tuebingen University in Germany was the exact place to fulfill my emptiness. There I was able to experience a new culture and learn much academically.
Widening My Perspective
I had never lived outside my parents’ home before. They were always there by my side and on hand to help me out financially or mentally. I realized this sheltered life was going to be problematic later in life. Therefore, I wanted to get out of my box and examine myself out in the broader world. Going abroad had always been a longing of mine. Right before the 2012 year, I skimmed through my old diary entries, written in high school day. There I felt my passion to study abroad. Coincidentally, at that same time, I had become fully accustomed to the routine at university and felt quite bored. University life was predictable with its assignments, group projects, and exams. Everything just seemed to guide me to leave for somewhere new and to dream of experiencing something new.
My stay at Tuebingen University
Germany has risen as a European nation leader after the Euro zone bankruptcy. This reputation draws students from diverse nations there. Also, thanks to the free labor mobility within European nations, Germany also attracts thousands of Erasmus students. Because most of the foreign friends I made shared the same motive for going to Germany as I, we could become good friends quickly. Also, because we were all students, we could discuss societal issues as well as our future careers. Although we were different genders and ethnicities and from different cultures and countries, we could freely talk about everything from love triangles to complaints about professors as though we had been friends since childhood. In Germany, I was in high demand. Not many friends I made there had met an Asian before, so I become somewhat of a novelty, showing others how to use chopsticks and translating songs like Gangnam Style, which was a big hit at the time. I was transformed from a typical Korean lady to a unique Asian attraction. I felt fully respected and made tight connections with friends. One of my closer friends approached me and said I was really cute looking because my facial features—eyes, nose, etc—were all small. She had no idea most Koreans desire European appearances and spend a lot of money on plastic surgery. Tuebingen University had a department of Korean language and literature. When I applied for an exchange to Germany, I wanted to gain firsthand experience of a foreign country's school culture as well as enjoy a lifestyle that totally differs from that of Korea, but what I found was a western desire to learn everything about Asia.
Adapting to the New Culture
The city, itself, was tiny. Not many residents had ever met an Asian before. Whenever I went out and wherever I went, I exemplified uniqueness. Sometimes it was annoying and became quite stressful, especially when someone would take a double look at me. However, I ignored most of this because I soon came to realize that smaller cities in Germany normally do not have tourist or travelers pass through them. There were only two shopping malls and two cinemas in the city centre. I had to take a train just to drop by a Starbucks as the nearest one was located in the capital city of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Before going there, I never expected such situations.
Memorable Activity and Lecture
I took many liberal arts classes to meet other passionate exchange students. Especially, I applied for a theater class during the winter semester of 2012. In Korea, I am a relatively active person, but my thought changed. Meeting Latinos and Italians in the theater class, I was overwhelmed by their energy. They were really energetic every minute of the class. Every day the professor assigned us certain roles. We had to play roles like murderers or prostitutes. I was a bit embarrassed with the requirements at the time. My classmates, however, felt at ease and seemed to enjoy it. In my business classes, most students were rude in my eyes. They corrected the professor’s mistakes, and sometimes they disagreed with theories the professor presented. Classrooms in these courses were usually a bit chaotic with all the questions and discussions with peers. During question and answer sessions, students enjoyed lively discussions. As new markets were increasing, they showed great interest in Far-East regions like Japan, China, and Korea. I was asked quite a few questions during those talks.