Precious Experience in Australia for a Semester
Precious Experience in Australia for a Semester
  • Yoon Sookyoung
  • 승인 2012.09.08 09:50
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Dreaming of Professional Convention Organizers

Since I got into my university as a Culture and Tourism student, I’ve always been interested in interacting with foreigners, so I joined the one of the leadership groups named “Sookmyung Interpretation Volunteers.” Doing a lot of interpretation activities and participating in various
international conventions, I’ve dreamed of being a professional convention organizer because I thought could interact with various types of foreigners and learn a sense of organizing some work.  After deciding my dream and future career, I ran against a stump with my communication skill in English more professionally, and also had difficulty learning specialized knowledge of event organization and management.  I felt a limit to my ability and there were no subjects related to the convention and event management in our university, so I decided to go abroad to learn conventions or event organization more specifically and professionally and improve my English skill.

Preparing to be an Exchange Student

I decided to apply for an exchange program in September, 2011.  In fact, the decision of my career  had been made right before the period of application, so I had to hurry preparing some stuff necessary for applying.  At that time, it was the start of the 2nd semester; I was very busy preparing many things taking classes simultaneously.  However, I made more effort in applying for the exchange student program, because I thought it would be the only chance in my life, especially while I am a university student.  Since I had a TOEFL score that satisfied the criteria for application, I concentrated on writing a letter of self-introduction.  In addition, I prepared for an interview with one of my friends who was preparing to become an exchange student.  Finally and luckily I could go to Griffith University in Australia, which is very famous for business classes which consist of event management, tourism management, and hotel management.  I arrived in Brisbaneinternational airport on February 18.  The semester started only just a week later.  Fortunately, I met my old friend who had studied event management since she was a freshman.  She helped me a lot, from making a student ID card to guiding me around the school area.  If I hadn’t met her, I would have confronted numerous difficulties.  Thanks to her help, I could prepare everything needed to start the semester.

Two Problems that I Had While I Studied

In Korea, most students including me have learned American pronunciation.  Like other students, I usually was accustomed to American pronunciation and didn’t tell the difference of pronunciation among English speaking countries.  I couldn’t feel any difficulties and inconveniences hearing English in my country.  However, these problems rose to the surface studying in Australia.  In the orientation day, I was shocked that I couldn’t understand what some professors explained.  It was totally different and awkward pronunciation that I faced.  Much bigger problems appeared.  Even when I attended one of my classes named “Tourism management,” I faced the same problems that I experienced in orientation day.  That case was more serious because the professor was so old that I couldn’t understand what she explained specifically.  Her pronunciation was real traditional Australian.  For overcoming this understanding problem, I tried to keep listening carefully and recording her lecture and listening again in my dorm.  After 1 month and half, I could understand a little bit and at the end of the lecture, I could understand 90% of her lecture.  And another problem that I had was the method of class.  I took 3 classes in Griffith University: Event Management, Tourism Management, Professional Purpose of Spanish.  What I felt awkward and difficult is the method of education in Griffith University.  Most Australian universities follow this curriculum in every subject; every subject consists of lecture (2 hours) + tutorial (1 hour).  Lecture is the same as what we’ve learned and gotten used to.  Meanwhile, a tutorial is unique in Australian university society.  It is like seminar that one teacher leads 10 to 12 students to debate on one or more issues related to issues.  I had a hard time getting used to this method, because I usually got educated by Korean cramming education.  I felt unfamiliar with debate and active attendance in the classroom.  Besides these disadvantages, I thought all of the subjects that I learned let me grow my creativeness.  Most assignments are related to giving one’s creative ideas; for example, in event management class, there was one assignment with my team members.  We needed to create one community event and plan from beginning to end.  It was harsh work at that time, but I could learn various aspects of planning.

Dormitory life and Friends

In my dormitory there were 5 girls including me, because I chose theroom where only women can stay.  There were mixed-sex rooms, but I chose ‘only-women’ room because I thought it would be dangerous.  My 4 roommates have different nationalities: Queenie is from Hongkong, Carmen from the US, Savanna is from Australia, and Sharon from China.  As their nationalities are different, their personalities are a little bit different.  Fortunately, they are all calm and friendly; I could get along with them very often and well.  However, it’s very hard to get along with Savanna, who was from Australia.  She was racist.  Although Carmen, one of my roommates from the US has Mexican parents, Savanna always expressed her hostility against South Americans and Africans in front of her! Also, she wasn’t willing to talk with Asians.  At first, I also tried to talk a lot with her, but the conversations came to an end very quickly because of my English speaking and listening skill wasn’t that good to have a natural onversation with a local Australian at that time.  Due to her discriminative behavior, our roommates (except Savanna) got angry about her rudeness.  That was my birthday, March 8th.  I decided to hold my birthday party, inviting my roommates.  My school friend helped me to prepare Korean food: Kim bop, Pork, Duck boki, etc.  I also called Savanna to participate in my birthday.  I thought it would be great chance to be a real friend with Savanna.  Many people who have been exchange students say that food is a very useful source to be a good friend with a foreign friend.  It was right! I could be friends with Savanna and after that time; she didn’t say any discriminative word and also she didn’t behave as if she were a serious racist.  Every Tuesday, we went to club and enjoyed that day, dancing and drinking some alcohol.  Sometimes we went to famous places such as Dreamworld, which is a very famous theme park in Australia, and a Zoo to experience petting some animals like Kangaroos and Koalas. 

Impressions after Staying as an Exchange Student 

In fact, I had a lot of thoughts before going to Australia as an exchange student.  Frankly speaking, I didn’t want to go abroad keenly as the departure date came.  I was afraid to be separated from my family and friends.  However, now I think it would be only one chance for my life and a very great experience.  As I mentioned above, I want to be a professional convention organizer, and it is necessary to have ability to speak in English naturally and professionally.  While I was studying 3 subjects: Event Management, Tourism Management, Professional Purpose of Spanish, I learned useful knowledge for being a professional convention organizer or tourism expert in Korea.  In addition, I had a lot of opportunities to interact with various foreigners very naturally.  Besides these aspects, I think I’ve grown up a little bit more than before in various aspects.  If I have another opportunity to go abroad as an exchange student, I will definitely apply for that again.  Also, I certainly want to recommend this opportunity to freshmen and sophomores and even juniors and seniors.  Maybe, it must be a great opportunity or experience for them

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