- International Students at Yonsei Can Receive Quality Education Even If They Aren't Native Korean Speakers July 28, 2022
UD Comparative Literature & Culture Student Thimo from Germany
Name: Thimo Bastert
College: Underwood International College (UIC)
Major: Underwood Division - Comparative Literature and Culture (entering class of '19)
My name is Thimo Bastert. I am German and study at Underwood International College (UIC), majoring in Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC). I came to Yonsei in March 2019. Fascinating to say, just about a year before studying at Yonsei, I hardly imagined myself pursuing my studies in Korea. My decision to move here to study was motivated mainly by the desire to move far away and experience something new. Now, an average individual would fulfill such a desire by perhaps planning an exchange semester or taking a gap year to travel abroad. But for some reason, I thought it would be best to commit myself fully for four years by moving to a different country on a different continent with a different culture. You could say it was youthful hubris, but I believe sometimes you need to make drastic decisions while you still can.
I chose Yonsei because it has one of the best English language curriculums in East Asia. I valued their approach to the liberal arts, where various fields of academics were actively integrated and incorporated for the students to broaden their insights. The CLC major was the best choice for me because studying philosophy and art is closest to my heart. Still, even though I always knew I was the most drawn to studying literature, UIC's curriculum gave me the additional options to add a few politics classes into my schedule, which I found to be very helpful in bolstering my general knowledge and understanding of the world.
When I first started living in South Korea, I was full of excitement with everything around me being different and new. Living in a dormitory also helped me feel not alone. However, it was not all comfortable to share the room with others, particularly since I appreciate having some space for myself; the experiences I had with lovely roommates still hold dear to my heart. I guess the biggest cultural difference I experienced in South Korea would be that back in 2019, the concept of veganism was not as established as it was in my home country, with the vegan menus not easily available in the dormitory's cafeteria. Nonetheless, there has been a lot of improvement in the last few years, and I am hopeful that this trend will continue.
In my UIC classes, I never really encountered any issues with the language barrier. Overall, I really enjoyed my classes from the beginning, and my classmates were always nice. It is sad to say that I only managed to enjoy my campus life for a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, but during my life at the Yonsei International Campus (YIC), I recall myself seeking joy in exploring Songdo and taking in the sensation of emptiness that this recently reclaimed land that was yet to develop into an authentic place one can recognize as "home" provided for me. Walking down nearly deserted routes surrounding the campus was always really fun. Though COVID-19 has prevented me from taking part in many of the campus activities, with most of the restrictions being lifted as of now, my goal is to find something worthwhile to engage in, though I don't have any concrete plans set yet. For now, I look forward to finally having my classes at the Sinchon Campus, and I am relieved that I could enjoy my campus life at Sinchon before graduation.
Most universities would be similar when it comes to students studying for exams and learning their majors, which is not the aspect that makes Yonsei special. What distinguishes Yonsei from the rest would be that it is the university that offers foreign students quality education in Korea that they wouldn't usually receive unless they speak Korean at a native level. So, if you are looking to study in South Korea or just generally want to experience living in a foreign country as a student, then Underwood International College is the perfect place. The experience of living abroad and studying at Yonsei will help you build character - at least, that is what I hope will happen for you as well.
Interview by student reporter Jo Beomsu
* Yonsei University's Underwood International College (UIC) is a highly selective, English-language, four-year liberal arts institution, which combines the intimate, elite learning environment of an American-style liberal arts college with the faculty and resources of Korea’s top private research university. UIC students choose from an extensive list of classes conducted entirely in English and taught by a distinguished group of international and Korean scholars. With a student body drawn from around the world, UIC focuses on ensuring that its outstanding students have the intellectual foundation to become exceptional leaders capable of changing the world for the better.