As the clock ticks closer to 9 a.m and students begin filling the classroom I begin to notice that I have become a minority.
As is customary, in most classrooms, the professor decided students should introduce themselves on the first day. Now I am not a shy person and love to meet new people, so I was totally prepared to introduce myself to my classmates. What I was not prepared for was being selected to speak because I was an “international” student. Out of the 78 people in our class, there are only 5 international students and it felt odd to be labeled as such.
Merriam-Webster defines international as the following:
- Of, relating to, or affecting two or more nations
- Of, relating to, or consulting a group or association having members in two or more nations
- active, known, or reaching beyond national boundaries
Of the three definitions, I really like the third one; reaching beyond national boundaries. Indeed I have successfully reached beyond national boundaries and have found myself in a new country but I feel as if I am at the outermost level of what it means to truly be international.
This summer I am taking two classes as part of the Dongguk University International Summer School program. These classes consist of intense two week sessions. I am taking Introduction to Korean Film in the first session. This course focuses on understanding how the Korean film industry has been influenced by Korea’s history. So far we have watched two movies, Deep Blue Night (Bae Chang-Ho, 1985) and Peppermint Candy (Lee Chang Dong, 2000). Both of which have left me feeling overwhelmed from learning a massive amount of cultural information.
From learning about Korea’s history of military rule to reading about the Gwangju Massacre, it becomes harder to view these two films as simply movies. They have become more than that to me, they have become a window into another culture.
As I find myself being labeled an “international” student I wonder if this is what it feels like for the international students who come to my campus in the states. Do they feel overwhelmed when they are exposed to another culture? How do they feel when they learn about a culture that is different from what they have experienced. It is all very intriguing to me and I find myself laughing at how the tables have turned, putting me into the seat of a foreign exchange student.
My professor is very nice. He teaches the course in English and ensures that the international students feel included. I am very grateful for it! But it is just weird to get attention because Iam from another country.
I would love to hear the experiences of other international students! Are you currently abroad? What has it been like being away from home? What have you learned about the country you are visiting? What are your classroom experiences? Share your stories in the comment section below. 🙂
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