- What Makes Yonsei Attractive: Its People, Variety of Courses, and Quality of Teaching September 21, 2022
Exchange Student Riccardo from the University of Geneva (Switzerland)
Name: Riccardo Rossi
Home University: University of Geneva (Switzerland)
Major: International Relations
"I came from Italy, but since 2019 I have lived in Switzerland for my studies. I am a student majoring in international relations at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva, currently doing an exchange semester at Yonsei University, thanks to the partnership between my home university and Yonsei.
Having a Korean mother who was sent to Europe for adoption upon birth, I have always felt a sense of belonging to Korea, a country I know very little about. Korea was always the country I wished to discover, but it was not until I started my university life that this simple curiosity became a real interest, as I developed a fascination with the relations between Korea and Europe, which later even developed into a wish to work in this field. These were the reasons sufficient for me to apply for an exchange program at Yonsei from the very first moment I got to know about this opportunity. I believe that to truly discover the Korean culture, language, and way of living while deepening my understanding of subjects like Korean politics, history, and foreign policy, there is no better way than actually to live in Korea.
There were several reasons for choosing Yonsei, other than the fact that it is a very globalized university that has partnerships with multiple universities in Europe, including my home university. In the first place, Yonsei is a leading institution both at a national and international level, with excellent faculty. There was also a wide variety of courses offered in the field of politics and international relations, which was very important to me. Last but not least, the proportion of international students was considerably higher than in other Korean universities, and the campus environment appeared to be really stimulating.
I am currently taking most of my classes at the Underwood International College (UIC) on Asian studies and international relations as I would like to deepen my knowledge of Korean and East Asian politics and history. Broadening my learnings in these fields has been a great help, especially since I aim to focus on EU-East Asia relations for my graduate studies; I have a strong conviction that my experience at Yonsei is helping me achieve my goal of eventually working in this field.
When I first came to South Korea, besides all the administrative procedures I had to undertake, one of the biggest difficulties I had - and still have - to face was the language barrier. Initially, I had not understood how important it is to speak Korean to live here, and there were indeed difficult moments as I tried to adapt to the new life in a foreign country, but thanks to the considerate gestures of so many Koreans, I am glad to say that it is gradually becoming a home. People were usually very helpful even when communication was difficult, and they were also more curious and friendly towards foreigners than I initially expected. Another amazing thing worth mentioning about my life in Korea is the food culture, and I am happy to say that throughout the two months since I arrived, I haven't found anything that was not delicious. What I appreciate the most about Korean food culture is the value of sharing, which is why I especially enjoy dishes like dakgalbi and samgyeopsal.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I did not have the opportunity to attend classes on campus, but thanks to the well-established system for online classes, it is a joy to engage and get to know other students and their points of view across many relevant issues dealt with in the classes. The number of students in each class is relatively small, which improves the interaction among peers but also with the professor, and many group projects and presentations are required, exposing me to various opportunities to meet new people and share different ideas.
Besides, living in the Yonsei dorms has been a pleasant experience, as the campus itself, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, are very fascinating, especially at this time of the year when cherry blossom signals the arrival of spring. The campus is huge with so many university buildings as well as many useful facilities, but what makes it so special are the park and the tree-lined avenue, which give the campus a peaceful atmosphere. The campus is also close to Sinchon and Hongdae, two vibrant neighborhoods where you can truly eat, hang out and go shopping to experience Seoul truly.
Given that, at least for now, my time in Korea is not that long, I decided not to engage in regular activities or sports but rather enjoy my free time discovering the country and trying out everything that comes up. For this purpose, I am taking part in an activity called "Tasty Sinchon," organized by Yonsei Global, to help foreign students experience traditional Korean foods. I have also had the opportunity to go mountain climbing, and given that temperatures are rising, my friends and I are looking forward to traveling to Busan and Jeju Island soon.
If I had to name one thing that makes Yonsei special, I would say it is the people, but Yonsei's variety of courses across so many majors, as well as its quality of teaching, are also some of the factors that make it attractive."
Interview by student reporter Jo Beomsu
* Yonsei University's Exchange/Visiting Student Programs offer opportunities to students who plan to study for a year or a semester in Korea's top university located in the heart of Seoul, the dynamic capital city of Korea. In addition to gaining academic excellence, international students are also exposed to a beautiful and culturally rich environment and can share special memories and experience Korean culture by participating in various Yonsei clubs and activities for international students. For more information: Yonsei University Office of International Affairs