Now I thought it was appropriate to dedicate a blog to the academics here in Korea because technically I came here to study business. Their system for registering and classroom style is very similar to what I am used to. However, the main problem is that the when you sign up for your classes everything is in Korean. Like I mentioned earlier, you are given a Korean buddy and they are supposed to help you with obstacles like this. The University said they will be working on offering an English website because they really encourage international students to attend their University. In addition, the UWINS (same thing as Ecompanion) is in Korean, so the assignments and power points that you need to obtain can be a difficult task. Although this is extremely inconvenient the professors here are more than willing to help the international students. My Management Information Systems professor sent me a pdf file of an English version of the UWINS website so that I could easily manage it.
Main Building of the University of Ulsan
Speaking of the professors here, they really enjoy having an international student in their classroom. They typically will call you out and ask for your opinion and how it relates to your country. I have noticed that when the professor asks a questions and he is expecting a response the Koreans are apprehensive to answer. Most times the international students will answer. I believe the reason for this is because Korean students are not used to an interactive classroom style. In high school, they rarely were required to do presentations or voice their opinion. They just simply listened to lectures and were extremely shy to even ask questions. I was told all of this from my LATU groups and it makes sense why they are so quiet in class. Another shocking thing I found out about Korean education system that was in high school they attended school from 7 am to 10 or 11 pm and on Saturdays attended private lessons from 9am to 6 pm. This truly was mind-blowing for me. My students were extremely envious of how American high schools are. One positive that comes out of their high school education system is that they are diligent students who have incredible study habits. Yet, they lack communication skills and ways to express themselves to authority. Now universities in Korea are assigning more presentations and encourage students to interact during class. Some students have adapted but the majority is still silent during class.
Furthermore, the classes are significantly easy for a native English speaker. Most of the classes at the University are taught in Korean so when Korean students sign up for an English course they want to improve their English. I have met students who are able to understand English but can barely make a conversation. The professor generally speaks slowly and explains every concept 2 or 3 times. Therefore, for me the class pace is particularly slow and can even become boring due to the repetitiveness. I was assigned to a group project where we would have to present it to the class and 3 of the students could not communicate in English with me. I am not entirely sure if they couldn’t talk with me or if they were just too afraid. They claimed that they were just in the class to try and improve their English. I communicated with one other student who spoke decent English and we practically did the whole presentation. This did not bother me because the assignment was easy and I was able to get through to the other students what we should do for the project. In a way, they automatically designate you as the leader of the group solely on the fact that I am a native English speaker. I noticed that they really hang on every word you say and it is uncommon for them to disagree with what I say. I think this again has to do with the way their education system is set up.
Although there have been many obstacles I had to overcome and adjust to a completely different culture I in no way discredit this University. They truly care about their students and hire knowledgeable professors. It has a beautiful campus that is near the city center. My classes are all in the same building and my dormitory is only a five minute walk from the business building. If one is coming to a University half way across the world you must expect challenges but if you are able to conquer them then you will feel more independent than ever.
Campus during spring time