Bachelor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
To be honest, my first impression with KAIST was not that impressive. It was the first class in my major subject that the professor asked in Korean: ‘Is there any non-Korean speaker in the class?’ Thanks to my little knowledge in Korean, I raised my hand, and luckily, the class had proceeded in English. I was quite disappointed since, despite the promise of 100% English lectures, Korean is surprisingly widely used. We were often left out from jokes, often felt like the black sheep for ‘special notice in Korean’, often have no Korean who would be willing to be real friends with us, no hobby clubs, … All of those experience, obviously, was not the best for a small little foreigner girl who never lived far away from her parents before like me.
But apparently those recent years, KAIST administration board put their effort on making life better for foreigners. They tried to collect any ideas, or wish, or complaints from us, to make KAIST a foreigner-friendly campus. As an FIS member myself, I tried to help freshmen get to know the school more, and in other ways, transferred their wishes to the officials. Together with top-down improvements, both Korean and foreign student-reporters worked together to address, to publically discuss and to propagate the solution of the integration problem on campus via student newspaper. Now we have more clubs that take foreigners, more events and activities, more information provided in English, and life has surely been improved since then.
But here is an advice from me to any of the newcomers: ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do!’. Before coming to a new country, especially one with a distinct culture like Korea, we should research, and understand its culture and people, to suitably adjust ourselves to the environment. Learn some Korean language, practice some Korean manners, and in turns, you will be more confident to get around, and your life would be much enjoyable!