Davie’s Short Story
Hello! My name is Davie Koam, a Cambodian student from the Department of Biological Engineering of INHA University, South Korea. I’m honored to be able to share my story with AFOB and its audience.
Having been living in South Korea for almost 3 years, I have seen and witnessed many different aspects of the country, and to the best of my recollection, cold weather was the most memorable obstacle I had to deal with when I first arrived here. In addition, despite being praised globally, the Korean cuisine did not impress me at first. However, I actually was struggling with Korean spicy food for the first 3 months before ending up falling in love with it. Moreover, as a Korean beginner learner, language barrier was the only difficulty holding me back from going out alone unless I was accompanied. However, it was only after half a year of trying to adapt to the new environment, was I able to live independently. The International Student Center of INHA University played a key role in helping me overcome such hardship. I have to admit Korean people are helpful. As I was in dire straits, it was INHA Buddy Program which opened up certain avenues for me to make Korean friends who, at the time, helped me out on every occasion.
With regards to university life, my poor Korean made me fall behind everyone during the first semester. However, things started to get better as I went on to attend more of the Korean classes. It is generally believed that Education-Required Courses such as Chemistry, Biology and General Chemistry Lab are the most difficult for foreign students. Even those who have a good command of Korean still find themselves not being able to keep up with the classes. Personally, despite dissatisfying grades, the classes really helped sharpen my technical Korean comprehensive and cognitive ability.
Finally, from my perspectives, the greatest opportunity, for the last two years, is to be able to get in touch with outstanding professors who are quite supportive of students with passion regardless of their backgrounds or nationalities. The fact that I was fortunate enough to get admitted to one of the University laboratories by which I have been exposed to various biological researching fields is a good illustration of this.
Arvie’s Short Story
I am Arvie Camille de Guzman, a licensed Chemist from the Philippines. I first heard about Professor Choi Shin Sik’s Nanobiomaterials Lab in Myongji University when the professors visited my alma mater, the University of the Philippines. I applied and I was fortunate enough to be accepted. Now, I have been living in Korea for more than four years and studying for my doctorate degree here is the most difficult and rewarding experience I have ever had.
I distinctly remember how nervous and excited I was as I travelled for 16 hours to reach Korea. However, as soon as I arrived, I felt homesick as I unpacked my things in my room. My first night in Yongin is very unforgettable! Adjusting to Korean food was challenging and to be honest, I couldn’t find a dish that would suit my taste. However, after a while I got used to the taste of Korean food and I discovered 뼈해장국 which is now my bias!
On my first day in the lab, I realized that I was the only Filipino student in it, which worried me a little bit, but it was also interesting. I was incredibly lucky enough to join a laboratory that encouraged me to always think outside the box and molded me into the researcher I’ve always dreamed I could be. The first time my Professor trusted me with my first project, I felt mixed emotions of delight and panic since this was a big responsibility, he entrusted me with, but it was topic that I have completely no background in. I am Chemistry major, and the project was totally different from what I expected! I was asked to take care and explore the cutest living organism a lab can ever have, Caenorhabditis elegans. I am out of my element, but I was glad that my Professor pushed me beyond my capabilities and helped me become passionate about new research topics. I am blessed to have a Professor who has always been readily available to help me with my personal and academic concerns.
After all that I have been through, if I were given a chance to go back in time, I would still pursue my studies here in Korea. Obviously, every decision is going to have a tradeoff. For me, I traded the familiar and safe culture I had grown up in for a completely new environment in order to pursue my PhD degree and experience working with advanced research people and facilities. I enjoy it very much and I hope I will get my degree next year and becomes a respectable researcher.