A Reflection on the Most Precious Moment in My College Years
A Reflection on the Most Precious Moment in My College Years
  • Yoon Kiyeon
  • 승인 2009.10.09 23:48
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—A life as an exchange student at Florida State University

As I grew old enough to settle my identity, I became more curious about the world and other cultures.  When I entered college, I decided to achieve my goal that I had always wanted to be involved in international related activities in my college years.  Among several different options, I applied to become an exchange student to study abroad.  Luckily, I was being qualified to become an exchange student with a good GPA and a certain high score on the TOEFL test.  The advantages of being an exchange student were nearly the as same as the goals that I had always settled to achieve in my college year.  

As I was really excited to go to Florida State University (FSU) as an exchange student, I expected many things such as experiencing another culture and learning English more intensively.  I had never thought that my world view would be changed.  However, studying in such a different country that has one of the most diverse cultures in the world gave me the potential to develop my identity in a larger perspective toward the world.  

To mention the three major things I successfully achieved in the , firstly, I learned about American culture by interacting and communicating with its people.  Secondly, I became interested in the cultural diversity in the by being involved in many different student ethnicity organizations and international conferences.  Thirdly, I found out more about myself and the main goals in my life, which I can also relate to my future career.  

By interacting with different groups of people and becoming friends with them, I realized that I had been keeping a narrow-perspective by only seeing things from my point of view.  The more I got to know about other people I came to understand more about others’ viewpoints.  I also found myself getting more interested in talking to other people while I was re-constructing my own identity.  Not only did I learn to accept the otherness but I also came to react appropriately toward ‘the othernesses’ even though it took me a while.  The lessons that I learned will continue to affect my life in viewing and seeing the world more appropriately with the respect toward the others just as I respect my own culture.  

Experiencing the diverse cultures in the was a goal I made for myself.  I had studied the ‘Melting pot’ concept which generally refers to how diverse the culture is in the , yet, before coming to the , I still had a sort of stereotype in my mind, imagining a country pre-dominated by a majority of white people.  Upon my arrival in Tallahassee , it seemed my imaginings of pre-conceived notions were true.  

In Tallahassee , I could see white people as the majority population.  According to the census 2000, Tallahassee ’s population was over 60% white.  Therefore, in my first few months, before traveling around to other places in the U.S. and getting to know people of different ethnicities, I was actually experiencing ‘America’ with the image I had kept in my mind.  However, once I began to get involved in activities and participated in other student organization groups, I realized there were so many different ethnicities of people thriving in the U.S.

Still, it is true that the matter I have discussed is very controversial in American society.  Various cultures in affect it in both good and bad ways.  If people try to manage and solve the issues together, the nation would finally become a country which is depicted in the concept of the ‘Melting Pot,’ the harmonious characteristic that makes so special. 

As there were not so many exchange students at FSU, I had a difficult time finding friends at first.  Before going to the , I expected to meet other international students since I had found that it would have been a little easier to become friends with them than the local students.  However, I realized the fact from one of the advisors in the International Center that FSU had less than three exchange students every year.  It was far away from my expectation.  From that moment, I had to find another way to continue my social life just as I had done in .  

Yet, I was not so ready to meet the local students.  I could have found Korean students which might have been an easy way to find friends.  Rather, I admitted the situation as a challenge that I had to overcome.  The mission that I gave to myself was to find American friends even though I was not even a Korean-American.  The first person whom I got to know was my roommate; however, I could not rely only on her.  The other way that I could come out was to find friends in class.  However, this option was also not so practical.  The air in most of the classes was serious and not so friendly for a foreign student to find new friends.  Even American students did not make friends from classes.  It seemed that they barely cared about each other.  Rather, they directly got out of the class room once the class got over.  Because of this, the first week at FSU was severely overwhelming for me.  I was desperate to find friends that I could share my life and rely on in such a new circumstance.  

Luckily, I heard good news that there was a social meeting going on every Friday at the International Center .  I never knew if the meeting would change my life at FSU!  It provided me the first opportunity to meet American friends.  At the same time, I could actively start my prosperous social life.  The friends I met there were interested in not only sharing their own culture but also learning about other cultures.  With similar interests, we suddenly became close friends and built our friendship by spending time together regularly.  Finally, I found myself more easily and adequately fitting into the American college culture with the help of many favorable friends.  

As well, by attending the ‘Florida International Leadership Conference 2009(FILC),’ I met more friends with diversity of culture with whom I could freely share experiences and thoughts.  They definitely helped me with developing my perspective toward the world and its cultures.  The most interesting part was that we always kept reminding ourselves that everyone had distinguished personalities that we learn from each other.  Their presence impacted me so much that I will never forget about them even after several decades.  Finally, I came to identify myself more clearly and objectively with the help of all the friends who were unafraid to give me an advice and encouragement.  Even though we had different viewpoints toward such things which ended up being a sort of argument, we learned more about ourselves and others with a strong bond.   The efforts to understand and accept each other better can enlarge our perspectives while we acquire the most valueless thing, ‘Friendship.’  

By experiencing such opportunities as an exchange student in the , my perspective toward the world enlarged and I began to perceive my identity more deeply than ever.  With the experiences that I have gone through, I realized that I am not only an individual but also a world citizen who has the limitless potential to change the world.  That is to say, I achieved confidence based on numerous experiences that have fulfilled me.  

Also, I became more independent and mature.  It was the first time that I had to live without my family and friends. There were several hardships that I had to get over.  However, making every decision by myself, I learned about the responsibilities as well.  I would not have been able to learn these lessons if I had not studied abroad.  My ideal goal is to make a difference in a way in the world with the experiences I have had in my college years, especially the time I had in the I strongly recommend to other students to be involved in such activities like what I have received from Sookmyung Women’s University.  I fully appreciate what I have received and never will forget about it in my entire life! 􀀀___




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