Imagine reading, writing, listening, and speaking in English 24/7 in a completely different country that has a totally different culture! Wouldn't it be exciting? Every day is a challenge and a series of achievements. It might be a little stressful because it's harder than you think to be thrown into an unfamiliar language and culture. However, many people still want to go abroad because there are more valuable advantages than difficulties. Only people who have experienced living abroad can recognize what values are waiting. I hope my report will motivate you to participate in the exchange student program.
Why England? Why Sheffield?
I have been studying architecture for a year as an exchange student at Sheffield University in England. When I applied for the exchange program, there were various university options that I could apply to, but the only one I wanted to go to was Sheffield University. First of all, I chose England because the only language I can speak as a second language is English, and it is an advantageous location for traveling to Europe. Furthermore, Sheffield University is famous for its architecture course. Sheffield is a university city in South Yorkshire, England. It's a very small city compared to London, but I'm very satisfied. It is relatively safe because there are university buildings throughout the city. Also, it is in the central part of England, so it is very easy for domestic travel, and it is good for traveling abroad because it takes only an hour to get to Manchester Airport by train. Sheffield University has various programs for international students and a Korean department, so I think it was a perfect choice for me.
My university life
I'm a student who had not fully experienced freshman life due to COVID-19. If I hadn't participated in the exchange student program, I think this would have been a lifelong regret for me, a person who loves going out. I'm really enjoying my university life here. I live in school accommodation called Allen Court, where most of the students are freshmen. The community space in Allen Court is very good, so I naturally spend time with other freshmen. As a result, I was able to experience the party culture of England. Since it is a flat-type accommodation with a shared kitchen and living room, flat parties and pre-drinking often happen. Also, society activities are one of the highlights of uni life. Sheffield University has many societies. Even if you don't join them, you can experience society activities through a program called Give It a Go with the Student Union, and you can even go on a day trip at a low price through this program. In addition, the university gives you the opportunity to participate in various activities and events, so you can enjoy your uni life properly. I am satisfied that my uni life, which was full of coursework and study in Korea, has become fruitful and rich here.
If you become an exchange student, you will have more opportunities to travel. Sheffield University has three vacations: Christmas vacation, Easter holiday, and summer vacation. In addition, because the university does not check attendance for each module, students often go on a trip during the semester. During that period, I went on a domestic trip on weekends, and I traveled to European countries leisurely during the vacation. When I became tired from traveling, I had a place to go back to anytime. So, I could enjoy each city without any burden. While traveling, I met various people and made friends. They all grew up with different backgrounds, but one thing in common was that they like to travel. Therefore, we couldn't stop chatting. I became an open-minded person by accepting differences while experiencing the daily lives of the people of the city and talking to various people while traveling. If I had planned a trip to Europe while living in Korea, it would have been a simple trip for pleasure, but I'm grateful that I had a chance to see a wider view because I traveled leisurely.
Focusing on myself
Studying architecture is the most satisfying part of my life as an exchange student. This university has a very different curriculum from Korea. Unlike computer-based architecture in Korea, we learn an art-based one. No one can judge something as superior, but at least for me, art-based architecture seems to be more helpful because the results come directly from my hands. So, I can understand the design process better and strengthen the foundation of my architecture study. Also, as I study in a less competitive atmosphere compared to Korea, I have been able to find my own path, not a set path. When I studied architecture in Korea, I thought many students set similar goals, which is to be one of the best, and go down similar paths. I did what I didn't want to do because others did it, and there was no way to know what I really liked. It was like a fight between which students ran the fastest on the set route. However, when I talk with students here, each direction they want to go is different and specific, so there is no need to compete hard with each other. I thought that I would be happy to learn architecture in an environment where everyone's design styles are different and all of them are accepted. While studying here and talking about careers with students in the same major, I got the desire to study architecture more after graduation. Of course, it may be vague so far, but can I continue to live in Korea after realizing how wide the world is and how much time we have?
Just do it!
The world we're seeing isn't everything. Since I participated in the exchange student program, my expectations for the wider world that I can see in the future have grown. No matter what I do, my stage is somewhere out there, and someone will recognize my worth. I still have another semester in Sheffield, and this semester I will have more time to explore what I like and become a more ambitious person. If you're hesitant to apply to be an exchange student, just do it! Let go of all your worries in Korea for a while and focus more on yourself in a new environment! I'm sure it'll be worth more than anything else.