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Yukiko Eguchi, Exchange Student to Korea

Commencement of the Korean members of the 20th Japan Korea Student Forum, of which I was a member since I was in first-year. In Korea, junior fellows and friends bring flowers and presents for the graduates. These seniors seemed happy surrounded by many friends.
Commencement of the Korean members of the 20th Japan Korea Student Forum, of which I was a member since I was in my first year. In Korea, junior fellows and friends bring flowers and presents for the graduates. These seniors seemed happy to be surrounded by many friends.
Every year, a match is held between Yonsei and Korea University. This is the kind of day we strongly feel school spirit. The school color of Yonsei Univ. is bright blue.
Every year, a match is held between Yonsei and Korea University. This is the kind of day on which we strongly feel school spirit. The school color of Yonsei is bright blue.
International students love to celebrate birthdays. On my birthday, my friends held a party for me, and people whom I don’t know also joined in.
International students love to celebrate birthdays. On my birthday, my friends held a party for me, and people whom I didn't even know also joined in.
In front of an Observatory in Gyeongju, a World Heritage site. I spent two weeks of my summer vacation to travel around the country with a friend I met in Korea. Visiting the countryside and meeting with local people, I was able to find a new side of Korea.
In front of an Observatory in Gyeongju, a World Heritage site. I spent two weeks of my summer vacation travelling around the country with a friend I met in Korea. Visiting the countryside and meeting with local people, I was able to find a new side of Korea.
The International House, the so-called "I House", is a dormitory for international students of Yonsei University. Located in the campus, it is always full of life. Students from all over the world gather here, and it is like seeing the entire world in a smaller scale.
The International House, the so-called "I House", is a dormitory for international students of Yonsei University. Located on campus, it is always full of life. Students from all over the world gather here, and it is like seeing the entire world on a smaller scale.
A friend and her family in Korea. She came to my house to "homestay" during my high school years. I was invited for dinner many times while in Korea, and this is like my second home. Getting to know a typical Korean home was a new excitement for me.
A friend and her family in Korea. She came to my house to "homestay" during my high school years. I was invited for dinner many times while in Korea, and this is like my second home. Getting to know a typical Korean home was a new excitement for me.

Hello, Seoul!

Leaving Japan where I was born and brought up, I went to live in a foreign country. Now that I have finished a year of studying abroad, I really feel that this experience has made me who I am today. The impact of my first visit to Seoul at age 15 is what has kept me and will keep me motivated in my studies of Korea.
In Seoul, you can feel an intense relationship between people, passion, and the power of life, all of which are different from Japan. The Korean language sounded aggressive at first, but now, every sound of it sounds sweet. Here I would like to look back on the year I spent at Yonsei University, the most precious experience of my life.


Cutting down a Forest to Form a Campus

Yonsei University is located in the center of Seoul, constructed by cutting down a forest. Moving from one classroom to another was quite tough. There are also many hills, and female students with fancy outfits seemed to have a hard time. On the other hand, Korea has four seasons similar to Japan, so you can enjoy the change of color of trees and other plants from season to season. During cherry blossom season, the outside gets filled with students enjoying a picnic, despite the fact that it is also the time of mid-term exams.

The Central Library, open 24 hours, is always packed with students looking for a place to sit. True to its reputation as a prestigious university, their style of studying was different from what I had experienced. At the Faculty of Policy Management of Keio University, I was getting used to field work and study based on experience, however, I reacknowledged the importance of studying "at the desk" for accumulation of expertise, as much as field work. After going through trial and error to figure out how to study, I think I am more motivated in my studies. I hope this will help me when I start graduate school next year.


The So-called "I House"

While in Seoul, I spent my days in the International House (so-called "I House") located inside the campus of Yonsei University. Students from all over the world live together in this dormitory, and it was like seeing the entire world in a smaller scale. At first, I was surprised at differences in people's lifestyles and manners, but later understood that we all have hereditary abilities to adjust. It all depends on yourself whether you enjoy it or not.
Because we all lived together with no boundaries, there were some troubles and conflicts; however, traveling, partying, chatting, and debating with friends meant a lot to me during my stay.


Thoroughly Walking About Korea

During my stay in Korea, I tried to travel within the country as much as possible. I used night trains, highway express buses, cars, and bicycles to travel in every direction of Korea. I saw dawn at the East Sea and sunset at the West Sea. During the summer, I spent two weeks walking through the countryside. I also visited friends living far away from Seoul. "Seeing is believing". The places I actually visited were compelling.
When I look back, I think some of these journeys were dangerous, but at the time, I really wanted to visit as many places as possible carrying a backpack. By hearing dialects and seeing local cultures, I was able to realize that there are many things in Korea that I don't know about.

Getting to Know More about Korean People in Seoul

It is said that taxi drivers in Seoul are the best drivers in the world. This is because traffic in Seoul is very complicated and dangerous. Cars ignore green lights on pedestrian crossings. A bus ride can be so rough that you can go flying. Women try to hop on moving buses. The town of Seoul is simply busy.
In town, you often bump into people, you see people shouting at each other, a lady may try to drag you into her restaurant. Rough as it may be, the Korean culture attracts me, because it is so humane.
Seniors protecting juniors and really caring from them is a reflection of the hierarchical relationship based on Confucian ethics.
In Korea, it is said that if you eat with someone from the same pot, they will consider you as a family member. I felt this kind of humanity in Korea in many occasions. Korea is a country that completely fascinated me. Now, I love this country more than ever.



About Yonsei University

Yonsei University is a traditional private university located in Sinchon-Dong of Seoul, Korea. Founded in 1885 by a missionary, it consists of a wide variety of colleges and graduate schools including the College of Medicine. Yonsei Korean Language Institute, famous as an educational institute of the Korean language, accepts many international students from around the world including Japan.
There are two campuses: Sinchon Campus and Wonju Campus.

Year of establishment: 1885
Size: 24,474 undergraduate students and 10,667 graduate students
Number of full-time faculty: 1,690
Number of emeritus, visiting, and research professors: 678 (as of October 1, 2006)
History with Keio: Exchange Partner Institution since 1970
Number of exchange students (FY2006): 2 students from Yonsei, 2 students to Yonsei


About the writer

Yukiko Eguchi
Fourth-year Student, Faculty of Policy Management

Fascinated by Korea on her first visit to the country at age 15, she became eager to learn more about Korea with mixed feelings of "like" and "dislike" for the country. In 2003, Yukiko enrolls in the Faculty of Policy Management. She proceeded to study Korean politics, economy, society and culture from the perspective of comprehensive policy in research group on the Korean Peninsula, and from February 2006, spent a year at Yonsei University as an exchange student. "There is something about the country that captivates my heart," she says about the country.

* Exchange student (March-December 2006) to Yonsei University.
* The facts are those at the time of the interview.
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