Perspectives of Danish Exchange Students from Aarhus University: Anne Folmer Kristensen, Johannes Vibjerg Hansen
- Date 2023-05-25 10:54
As globalization continues to foster intercultural exchanges, studying abroad has become an increasingly popular choice for students seeking diverse educational opportunities. In this article, we speak with two Danish exchange students studying at KDIS to gain insights into their experiences. Let's delve into their stories and discover the unique insights they have gained so far.
What motivated you to choose KDI School as your study abroad destination? What program are you enrolled in?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: Johannes and I are both enrolled at Aarhus University, Denmark (studying for a master’s degree in political science). As a requirement for graduation, we are required to study abroad for one semester. I think we were both intentionally looking for opportunities in different cultural settings, and KDIS presents a diverse international student community hence our application here.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: Denmark is known for its universal welfare model, and part of that model is a large public sector and administration which interest me in particular. I chose Korea as it stands out to me as one of the most effective and robust democracies in the world. I was particularly looking forward to developing my knowledge of how Korea handles internal crises, such as COVID-19 Also, I am interested in learning about how Korea deals with foreign political pressures and geopolitical situations with other neighboring countries.
What has been your overall impression of the education system at KDIS compared to your previous school in your home country?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: The education system compared to Denmark is quite different. For example, the timeline of a semester at Aarhus University stretches from February until June where the courses are more extensive with a larger syllabus and only a few assignments throughout the semester. Here things are pretty much the opposite.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: I love the facilities at the school and the professors who are leading experts in their research fields. Compared to Aarhus University, where students in the political science department are from a relatively homogenous group, at KDIS, 60% of the students are Koreans while the rest are international students. Of the international students, a large number have administrative positions in their home countries and attend KDI School as part of their continuing and further education.
Can you share some experiences you've had while studying at KDIS, such as cultural activities or friendships you've made?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: Since my arrival on campus, the time has gone by extremely fast and there is always something to look forward to. I have both started swimming and playing badminton, and I have attended Zumba classes. There are so many different clubs to join and socialize with amidst shared passion and interests. I am also a big fan of ceramics, and I am taking a ceramics course with my Korean friend. It is truly an amazing experience, and now I have a homemade cup as a memory forever.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: During my time here, I have learned to appreciate the dynamic culture. I’ve visited beautiful sites in Korea. I have also learned about Korean food and music, which are an integral part of Korean identity and history. I've even tried making kimchi and singing at noraebangs with my friends. I am very grateful to have had this chance to study in South Korea. It has made me a more open, curious, and global citizen. It has also given me some fantastic friends I intend to keep in touch with.
Have you faced any language barriers while studying in South Korea? How have you coped with them?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: Our master’s degree in Denmark is delivered in English, which is the same here at KDI School. Outside the classroom, it is somewhat of a challenge since exchange students are not enrolled in Korean language courses. To close this, Papago has been a lifesaver and a go-to application to communicate in public.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: I agree with Anne about getting familiar with Hangul, especially in stressful and fast-paced situations. I am planning to take a Korean language course next trimester, which hopefully will make it easier to interact with local Koreans and gain a deeper understanding of Korean culture.
How has studying at KDI School impacted your personal and academic growth?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: For sure! My understanding of the world has increased a lot from just talking to people from different regions and continents.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: For me, this exchange program is aimed to strengthen my professional profile within public administration, politics, and economic development on a global scale. Post-graduation, I envision myself working with an international organization concerning development and economics. KDI School offers me a unique combination of global insight, high-level teaching, and fellow students with extensive practical experience and knowledge. I wouldn't be able to get that combination without going abroad.
Do you have any advice for other international exchange students from Europe who are considering studying in South Korea?
Anne Folmer Kristensen: Definitely! South Korea is a hub for intentional sharing and teaching the different aspects of its cultural and social life. Things here are very different from Europe, but that is how you widen your horizon. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with kind people among you, you will not be missing out.
Johannes Vibjerg Hansen: Do it already! You will not regret it.
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