Confessions of an international student

By Yezi Cho |Staff Writer|

Before moving to California from South Korea as an international student I expected to experience ‘Culture Shock.’ In some ways I did, and although for the most part I found commonalities, I also found differences.

Korea and the United States have many similarities such as the use of Apple and Samsung gadgets. This is because both countries have highly developed technologies. Another similarity is the beautiful beaches found along both the coastline here and there.

Public transportation exists in both countries, but it is better in Korea. Here, especially in San Bernardino, the interval between buses is too long, so people waste their time on the street.  In Korea buses come every ten minutes. “It is inconvenient for international students, we have to take a bus to go somewhere since we usually don’t have a car,” said, Sunju Jung, an international student from Korea.

However, the major difference between here and Korea that I find most interesting is the diversity of ethnicities. It matches the United States reputation of being known as the ‘melting pot.’

I see many homosexual people and they are free to express their status and emotions. Everyone respects each other’s personal preference. However, in Korea, homosexuality is considered wrong and unusual. Most homosexual people in Korea hide who they are because society looks at them in a negative manner.

I find many Americans are broad-minded toward diverse cultures, especially on campus. First of all, the Cross Cultural Center in the Santos Manuel Student Union represents this outlook.

“Basically, we provide different resources of cultures so that students feel free to come here to relax or take a break,” said Bianca Saucedo, a Cross Cultural Center employee.

There are many students who study together, browse the web and watch movies here. Students who were studying together here seemed more comfortable than when studying in the library. CSUSB has various events for students of different cultural backgrounds, while Korean universities have a lack of appreciation for other cultures.

Another aspect of the U.S. is their need for solitude. I can see a lot of people studying, sitting alone under the tree which is not common in Korea. It seems interesting to me because they do not care to be near anyone. It means they are free from others’ perceptions, while we Koreans care too much what others might think about us.

There are many students who eat alone also. In Korea, we like to do activities of every sort together. Studying alone is fine, but eating alone is absolutely weird in Korea.

Even though I am in the U.S., I am still awkward about eating alone. Based on my experience so far, becoming accustomed to the U.S. way of  life means becoming accustomed to being in utter solitude.

I have talked about my experience in California. I had many preconceived notions before I came here. However, many of them were because of my limited experiences. I also feel less anxiety given the many similarities to Korea. Even though I see many differences while I study here, I gladly accept them.


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