South Korean foreign exchange student experiences cultural differences

Packing, saying good-bye to their family, being the new kid at school, living in a whole different country for an entire school year, staying with a host family, and not knowing what to expect are things foreign exchange students experience while being apart of the program. Junior Daleyeong traveled halfway around the world from South Korea to attend an American school and experience life in a new culture.

With the help from Raina’s teacher in South Korea she learned more about the foreign exchange program and wanted to be involved.

“I found out about the exchange program through the internet and my teacher said I could join,” Raina said. “I started to wonder more about it, researched it, applied to the program, and they accepted me.”

Since Raina has been in the U.S she has had to adjust to a whole new routine. This includes her sleep schedule, when she eats, and the time she studies finding things are much slower paced here than at home.

“We go to school at 8:00 am and stay there until 9:00 pm in South Korea,” Raina said. “It’s very different from here and after school ends we have to go to another academy until 11:00pm. We then go back home, and study until 2:00am and go to sleep, before we wake up at 7:00am and start another day.”

South Korean schools are set up differently than American schools grouping students by age throughout the program.

“In South Korea, everyone who is the same age, is in the same class,” Raina said. “And we don’t move to other classes like here.”

Being involved in something like the foreign exchange program comes with special requirements that the students must abide by. Some of these restrictions pose difficulties for the exchange students and can make their stay a little more difficult.

“I actually want to drive,” Raina said. “I can’t do anything if I can’t drive. If I want to go somewhere alone or travel by myself, but I can’t if I cannot drive.”

Coming from a South Korea to the United States includes seeing people of different ethnicities and people throughout the country, which is something that Raina isn’t used to.

“There are many different cultures and races, and I was surprised about that,” Raina said. “There really are only Asians in South Korea.”

Raina has explored, learned, and enjoyed her time in the U.S and finds it valuable to have experienced because she has been able to experience and explore new cultures.

“This trip has been beneficial, because most of the things are different with another country,” Raina said. “We can experience more and know more about that country.”

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