KMU Focus

[Another Kookmin*People] The three warm-hearted handsome men: The ‘true story of Korea’ shared with them

  • 15.05.14 / 박차현

 

What comes to your mind when thinking of Germany? Is it the country of premium automobiles like Mercedes-Benz and Audi? Or is it the origin of the European brewery that produces the best quality of beer? There are about 30 exchange students from Germany in Kookmin University. These friends from Germany have pale skin, towering height, and other typical characteristics of the Germanic race. They come from the country that exemplifies the universal perception of ‘western.’ What do the German students studying in Korea think? Let’s find out in this interview with three young German men Torben Staiger, Sebastian Tom, and Felix Kestein.



▲ From luxury brands, beer, and Gothic style castles to traditional sausage dishes!
Germany is an attractive country!

 

Q. When you first came to Korea, what was your first impression about the country?
Torben: As soon as I arrived in Korea, I immediately felt the people’s hospitality and generosity. When I first came to the residence, they guided me to the room and informed me about the necessary materials by printing out things for me. Since everyone was very friendly and nice, I did not have any problems at all until the time I came to Kookmin University.

Sebastian: My first impression about Korea – it’s a very refined and dynamic country. Wherever I go, people are active and busy working. The digital displays, advertisements, and large screens that I saw in a certain street in Gangnam indicated that Korea is an innovative and modern country. Of course, the people are friendly and most specially, Korean food is so delicious.

Felix: I can sum up Korea with the words ‘high technology.’ I’ve heard that Korea is the country with the fastest wireless internet network all over the world! I actually felt that, too. It is well-known that Korea is a country equipped with advanced science and technology, as epitomized by the world-class Korean company Samsung. Also, the subway is efficient and well-organized in transporting people from one line to another so I was very impressed by the country’s excellent application and integration of modern technology to people’s daily lives.

 

▲ Torben sees the sights around the Gwanghwamun Street. He really likes city scenery of Seoul.

 

Q. What do you feel uncomfortable about while living in Korea?
Torben: Oh, sometimes taxi drivers refuse to take in the passenger because the destination is very near and it’s just a short drive for him (laughs).

Sebastian: That’s right. It is particularly worse late at night. We need a taxi but the taxi doesn’t want us. Also, the rent of the room in the student residence area near the university is too expensive but the space is very small. I want a spacious place at a reasonable price but it is really difficult to find that in Korea.

Felix: When we need to discuss things with many people, I felt a bit frustrated because Koreans tend to be slow in making a decision. If a person raises an opinion in the wrong direction, others have to point out the opinion to change it into the right direction. This requires fast discussion and effective communication with people. But in Korea, we have to get ‘approval’ from many levels and people still consider others’ perspective. So these make me frustrated. Particularly, I thought it was ineffective for a company to require many steps of approval to handle various matters. In Germany, the culture of clearly saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is common so I feel bad that such attitude is not observed in Korea.

 

▲ Sebastian (left) and Torben (right) explore the Korean traditional house

 

Q. As an exchange student, do you get along well with Korean students? How do you feel about the Korean students from the perspective of German students?
Sebastian: It depends on the occasion, but Korean students seem to feel shy or awkward in interacting with us or trying to be friends with us because of their difficulties in foreign languages, particularly English. I have many Korean friends and most of them are free to speak in English as some lived in foreign countries or studied abroad. I think the reason why Korean students have a hard time getting close to foreign students is because of the language barrier.

Torben: Although they are shy, the mindset to become closer with foreign students is the same for Korean students. When I first asked them for directions, most of them felt awkward at first. But, they were very interested in where I was from and what kind of person I am. I also think the language barrier is the biggest problem.

 

▲ German students say that the cuisine and food culture of Korea is the best.

 

Q. It has been at least six months since you started studying in Korea. I wonder how well you can speak Korean. Was the Korean language course that you take in campus helpful?
Sebastian: Korean is a difficult language for foreign students to learn. The lessons did not help much in the beginning of my Korean classes. Since I did not know any Korean when I first came here, I needed practical conversation skills that could be used in my daily life. Common topics should be taught in the language lessons such as how to get on a bus, order food in the restaurants, and ask for directions. But the course provided in the university focused on the grammar aspect so it was very difficult for beginners in the Korean language. So the language course was not helpful at all.

Torben: I felt the same way. In Germany, there rarely is a reading class when learning a foreign language. Such is taught only when learning grammar with the professors. On the other hand, the Korean language course in the university placed too much emphasis on the grammar aspect. So it was difficult for me to adapt in the beginning.

 

                           ▲ Global buddy program, house party, and exchange with their Korean friends

 

Q. Are there any differences between the young generation in Korea and Germany?
Sebastian:
The young generation in Korea studies really much. I’ve heard that students go to school between 6~7 a.m. until late at night. German high school students do not study much. They come to school around 2 or 3 p.m. and take additional lessons depending on specific needs. The rest of them just enjoy hobbies and play sports. Taking private lessons or going to an academic institution among Korean students are also great differences. We don’t take any special examinations when entering the university in Germany.

Felix: Of course, it depends on the field of study. In Germany, academic fields like medical science require a large amount of studying and entrance examination. However, we don’t have many examinations like here in Korea. I also feel that the amount of studying among Korean students is too much.

 

                              ▲ All three are active sports lovers
who enjoy hiking, playing soccer, and mountain biking.

 

Q. I wonder about your future direction after graduation. Do you plan to keep studying in Korea or find a job in Korea after graduation?
Felix: I think that Korea is a country with great challenges and opportunities. At this point, I want to stay in Korea for 2~3 more years and find my direction and future career here. Of course, I also love Germany and it is a good country but the world is wide and there are many challenges waiting for me. Korea is the first country I have ever visited in Asia and everything about it including the food and culture is refreshing. My academic advisor said, ‘Korea is the gateway towards Asia.’ Since every Asian industry and culture exists in Korea, he said that studying and achieving success in Korea would be great opportunities to decide my future.

Sebastian: Currently, I am searching for a job in Korea. I want to get a working visa and extend it to find my true career in Korea. I want to establish and operate my own business in Korea. But the biggest barrier for me is the language. I also need funds to start my business. So I keep exerting my best efforts to achieve my goals.

Torben: I haven’t seriously thought about my future direction in Korea. When I finish the exchange student program in Kookmin University, I will go back to Germany to finish my master’s course. Of course, I love Korea and want to study more in Korea. So I may come back to Korea to find a job.

 

             ▲ Let’s enjoy new and unexpected experiences! This is their motto while living in Korea.
 

 

Q. Since you experienced studying in Korea, is there any advice you can give to other exchange students from many countries who will come to Kookmin University?

Felix: We can see as much as we know. Before visiting Korea, I think it is necessary to study many things about the country such as its culture, cuisine, general information, etc. as a way to understand it. When in Korea, it is important to sample many Korean foods, actively participate in various activities, and not be afraid of unfamiliar things and experiences. Also, Korean students don’t need to feel shy if they are not proficient in English language since there are also many foreign students who cannot speak English properly. The important thing here is to try hard to get closer with each other.

Torben: That’s right. As Felix said, I think it is good to accept challenges without being frightened and be open to possibilities. Study the Korean language hard. You should improve your Korean language skills although I have not (laughs).

Sebastian: I agree with the two. The most important thing is having the positive attitude to enjoy everything about living in a foreign country without fear. The more you challenge yourself, the better you will become.

 

The three men said that the greatest beauty of youth can be found from challenges and possessing a positive attitude. They say that it is foolish to miss a chance that’s right in front of us by being afraid of unfamiliar things. It is difficult to see what will come ahead and what difficulty we will face in the future; however, they advise us to keep challenging ourselves. This is true because the world is wide and our lives are short to experience everything. Like the three German students who shared their dreams of their futures, we should refuse to back down from challenges and we need to challenge ourselves even more. When we open the door of the new world just in front of us, we can be better persons who can truly enjoy leading our own lives.

 

- Web journalist, PR Team

Kookmin Review Ji-un Bae 이메일

[Another Kookmin*People] The three warm-hearted handsome men: The ‘true story of Korea’ shared with them

 

What comes to your mind when thinking of Germany? Is it the country of premium automobiles like Mercedes-Benz and Audi? Or is it the origin of the European brewery that produces the best quality of beer? There are about 30 exchange students from Germany in Kookmin University. These friends from Germany have pale skin, towering height, and other typical characteristics of the Germanic race. They come from the country that exemplifies the universal perception of ‘western.’ What do the German students studying in Korea think? Let’s find out in this interview with three young German men Torben Staiger, Sebastian Tom, and Felix Kestein.



▲ From luxury brands, beer, and Gothic style castles to traditional sausage dishes!
Germany is an attractive country!

 

Q. When you first came to Korea, what was your first impression about the country?
Torben: As soon as I arrived in Korea, I immediately felt the people’s hospitality and generosity. When I first came to the residence, they guided me to the room and informed me about the necessary materials by printing out things for me. Since everyone was very friendly and nice, I did not have any problems at all until the time I came to Kookmin University.

Sebastian: My first impression about Korea – it’s a very refined and dynamic country. Wherever I go, people are active and busy working. The digital displays, advertisements, and large screens that I saw in a certain street in Gangnam indicated that Korea is an innovative and modern country. Of course, the people are friendly and most specially, Korean food is so delicious.

Felix: I can sum up Korea with the words ‘high technology.’ I’ve heard that Korea is the country with the fastest wireless internet network all over the world! I actually felt that, too. It is well-known that Korea is a country equipped with advanced science and technology, as epitomized by the world-class Korean company Samsung. Also, the subway is efficient and well-organized in transporting people from one line to another so I was very impressed by the country’s excellent application and integration of modern technology to people’s daily lives.

 

▲ Torben sees the sights around the Gwanghwamun Street. He really likes city scenery of Seoul.

 

Q. What do you feel uncomfortable about while living in Korea?
Torben: Oh, sometimes taxi drivers refuse to take in the passenger because the destination is very near and it’s just a short drive for him (laughs).

Sebastian: That’s right. It is particularly worse late at night. We need a taxi but the taxi doesn’t want us. Also, the rent of the room in the student residence area near the university is too expensive but the space is very small. I want a spacious place at a reasonable price but it is really difficult to find that in Korea.

Felix: When we need to discuss things with many people, I felt a bit frustrated because Koreans tend to be slow in making a decision. If a person raises an opinion in the wrong direction, others have to point out the opinion to change it into the right direction. This requires fast discussion and effective communication with people. But in Korea, we have to get ‘approval’ from many levels and people still consider others’ perspective. So these make me frustrated. Particularly, I thought it was ineffective for a company to require many steps of approval to handle various matters. In Germany, the culture of clearly saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ is common so I feel bad that such attitude is not observed in Korea.

 

▲ Sebastian (left) and Torben (right) explore the Korean traditional house

 

Q. As an exchange student, do you get along well with Korean students? How do you feel about the Korean students from the perspective of German students?
Sebastian: It depends on the occasion, but Korean students seem to feel shy or awkward in interacting with us or trying to be friends with us because of their difficulties in foreign languages, particularly English. I have many Korean friends and most of them are free to speak in English as some lived in foreign countries or studied abroad. I think the reason why Korean students have a hard time getting close to foreign students is because of the language barrier.

Torben: Although they are shy, the mindset to become closer with foreign students is the same for Korean students. When I first asked them for directions, most of them felt awkward at first. But, they were very interested in where I was from and what kind of person I am. I also think the language barrier is the biggest problem.

 

▲ German students say that the cuisine and food culture of Korea is the best.

 

Q. It has been at least six months since you started studying in Korea. I wonder how well you can speak Korean. Was the Korean language course that you take in campus helpful?
Sebastian: Korean is a difficult language for foreign students to learn. The lessons did not help much in the beginning of my Korean classes. Since I did not know any Korean when I first came here, I needed practical conversation skills that could be used in my daily life. Common topics should be taught in the language lessons such as how to get on a bus, order food in the restaurants, and ask for directions. But the course provided in the university focused on the grammar aspect so it was very difficult for beginners in the Korean language. So the language course was not helpful at all.

Torben: I felt the same way. In Germany, there rarely is a reading class when learning a foreign language. Such is taught only when learning grammar with the professors. On the other hand, the Korean language course in the university placed too much emphasis on the grammar aspect. So it was difficult for me to adapt in the beginning.

 

                           ▲ Global buddy program, house party, and exchange with their Korean friends

 

Q. Are there any differences between the young generation in Korea and Germany?
Sebastian:
The young generation in Korea studies really much. I’ve heard that students go to school between 6~7 a.m. until late at night. German high school students do not study much. They come to school around 2 or 3 p.m. and take additional lessons depending on specific needs. The rest of them just enjoy hobbies and play sports. Taking private lessons or going to an academic institution among Korean students are also great differences. We don’t take any special examinations when entering the university in Germany.

Felix: Of course, it depends on the field of study. In Germany, academic fields like medical science require a large amount of studying and entrance examination. However, we don’t have many examinations like here in Korea. I also feel that the amount of studying among Korean students is too much.

 

                              ▲ All three are active sports lovers
who enjoy hiking, playing soccer, and mountain biking.

 

Q. I wonder about your future direction after graduation. Do you plan to keep studying in Korea or find a job in Korea after graduation?
Felix: I think that Korea is a country with great challenges and opportunities. At this point, I want to stay in Korea for 2~3 more years and find my direction and future career here. Of course, I also love Germany and it is a good country but the world is wide and there are many challenges waiting for me. Korea is the first country I have ever visited in Asia and everything about it including the food and culture is refreshing. My academic advisor said, ‘Korea is the gateway towards Asia.’ Since every Asian industry and culture exists in Korea, he said that studying and achieving success in Korea would be great opportunities to decide my future.

Sebastian: Currently, I am searching for a job in Korea. I want to get a working visa and extend it to find my true career in Korea. I want to establish and operate my own business in Korea. But the biggest barrier for me is the language. I also need funds to start my business. So I keep exerting my best efforts to achieve my goals.

Torben: I haven’t seriously thought about my future direction in Korea. When I finish the exchange student program in Kookmin University, I will go back to Germany to finish my master’s course. Of course, I love Korea and want to study more in Korea. So I may come back to Korea to find a job.

 

             ▲ Let’s enjoy new and unexpected experiences! This is their motto while living in Korea.
 

 

Q. Since you experienced studying in Korea, is there any advice you can give to other exchange students from many countries who will come to Kookmin University?

Felix: We can see as much as we know. Before visiting Korea, I think it is necessary to study many things about the country such as its culture, cuisine, general information, etc. as a way to understand it. When in Korea, it is important to sample many Korean foods, actively participate in various activities, and not be afraid of unfamiliar things and experiences. Also, Korean students don’t need to feel shy if they are not proficient in English language since there are also many foreign students who cannot speak English properly. The important thing here is to try hard to get closer with each other.

Torben: That’s right. As Felix said, I think it is good to accept challenges without being frightened and be open to possibilities. Study the Korean language hard. You should improve your Korean language skills although I have not (laughs).

Sebastian: I agree with the two. The most important thing is having the positive attitude to enjoy everything about living in a foreign country without fear. The more you challenge yourself, the better you will become.

 

The three men said that the greatest beauty of youth can be found from challenges and possessing a positive attitude. They say that it is foolish to miss a chance that’s right in front of us by being afraid of unfamiliar things. It is difficult to see what will come ahead and what difficulty we will face in the future; however, they advise us to keep challenging ourselves. This is true because the world is wide and our lives are short to experience everything. Like the three German students who shared their dreams of their futures, we should refuse to back down from challenges and we need to challenge ourselves even more. When we open the door of the new world just in front of us, we can be better persons who can truly enjoy leading our own lives.

 

- Web journalist, PR Team

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