College experience different for FSB students in South Korea

May 2018

Jay Murdock

While Farmer School students are enjoying the sights and experiences of their semester in South Korea, they also have to be students on a different campus.

The 20 students started out volunteering at the 2018 Winter Olympics, then settled down to classwork at Yonsei University.

“I am taking five classes at Yonsei: Korean conversation, Korean reading and writing, Korean culture, financial management, and organizational behavior,” sophomore information systems major Cameron Devitt said. “I really enjoy the financial management and organizational behavior classes because they have both foreign and Korean students.”

“I am taking 18 credit hours, which is the maximum here. Thanks to the pass/fail nature of the credit we receive for these classes, I felt I could afford to max out my credits at the cost of maybe a little less time for each class,” sophomore marketing major Michael Reimer explained. “My week is front-loaded with 3 classes on Monday, and two classes on Tuesday/Thursday and one class on Weds and Friday. As a result, my week sort of has an ebb-and-flow to it, rising on Monday and falling by Wednesday.”

Living and going to school in another country raises some issues that can take time and patience to overcome.

“Interacting with a completely different culture is not something you can get used to every day, so each day poses new challenges, whether it be communicating or trying to learn from professors who aren't used to teaching in English,” junior finance major Daniel Schleitweiler said.

Sophomore supply chain management major Tyler Schmitz noted that while it’s not too hard to find English-speaking Koreans at the school, it’s a little more challenging off-campus.

“It can cause some confusion in everything from taxi directions, to trying to order at a more traditional restaurant not accustomed to foreign customers,” he said. “We have found ways to effectively communicate through gestures and translating apps, but it provides a challenge for us regularly.”

Yonsei University created a program to help the Miami and Yonsei students learn more about each other and their respective cultures.

“We are part of a unique program called the ‘M.Y Program’ which stands for Miami-Yonsei Program,” Schmitz explained. “We are living and interacting with a select group of Korean students on a daily basis and learning a whole lot about one another.”

“All the Miami students live in one dorm with the Korean students who are also in our program. Each room has 4 students living in it -- 2 Miami students and 2 Yonsei students,” Devitt said.

“Outside of classes, we have Mutual Mentoring Sessions weekly,” sophomore finance and accountancy major Collin O’Sullivan said. “This is roughly a three-hour weekly session with four American students and four Korean students. During these sessions, we just get to know each other and practice English.”

“Sometimes, the students want serious help learning English and other times they like to do various activities with us while having casual English conversations,” Devitt said. “Some of the Korean students have enjoyed helping me improve my table tennis and squash skills since they are big sports here!”

Schmitz said he and the other students have been struck by one particular aspect of Koreans.

“The Korean culture is one that is very respectful and kind. One of the first and most common observations that Miami students make is how nice everyone is here,” he remarked. “There is always a sense of urgency to help one another, and their constant generosity is something I have not encountered before on such a consistent basis.”

“This trip has taught me that it is important to try new things, as well as continue to explore the world as much as possible,” O’Sullivan said. “I am truly grateful for having this opportunity through FSB’s Study Abroad Program.”

“All in all, I have really enjoyed my experience so far,” Devitt said.

Cameron Devitt, Mina Park, Catie Costa in front of a Korean restaurant Yonsei University campus Yonsei University campus