Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hallym Academic Exchange Program


Application Phase
 

Where did you first hear about the UP – Hallym Academic Exchange Program?

I think it was in a symposium at CMC that I first heard about UP-Hallym Exchange Program. That time, Dean Pernia announced the second batch of CMC students leaving for the program. I wasn’t aware that time that this program exists so I was thinking, wow, the students must be really excellent to be chosen for this. That time, it was Marjorie Darunday and Malor who were leaving. I don’t personally know them so apart from admiring the students who were chosen for the program, there was really nothing that came into my mind.

What are your reasons/motivations for applying in the UP – Hallym Academic Exchange Program?

Actually I did not intend to apply for the program. It was a kind of an accident. There was post at CMC dept looking for an interested student who would accompany MA. ISABEL D. PROLLAMANTE to go to Korea as an exchange student because the original student backed out. I was really interested but I have other priorities so applying was just a wishful thinking. Then Prof. Umali suddenly passed and told me to try applying. I was like, ok, why not give it a try, for sure I won’t be chosen for this. So I sent Prof. Paragas my intention letter for the program. And then a week after, I was so surprised that Ate Vi came looking for me and told me that I was chosen for the program. I said, OH MY GOD, this can’t be. My initial reaction was a combination of fear and elation. I was afraid because what about my original plans of finishing my major and finding a job. On the other hand, thoughts of living in another Korea was like a drug that made me fly on cloud nine, so to speak. It was plain excitement I guess. So I called my mother and told her of the good news. But my mother didn’t let me go. But stubborn as I am, I told her that I would go even if they don’t support me. So in the end, it was my way.

Please describe the application process

Requirements

Letter of intent to be submitted to concerned office.
Length of Application Period

In my case, one week. It was an urgent situation so I had a different process.

Problems Encountered

Financial problem comes at the top, plus processing papers like VISA and plane ticket which was my first time to encounter.

Assistance Provided by UP CMC and Hallym University


CMC helped me with the basic info like where to file this and that, while Hallym sent the necessary documents to process my Visa.

Exchange Program Proper (Stay in Hallym University / Korea)

Please describe your first few days/weeks in Hallym/Korea as an Academic Exchange student

Living Arrangements

The initial stay at Hallym was so exciting. Let me start from the airport.

When Isabel and I got to the airport, our challenging journey began as the custom people cannot speak English and would talk to us in Korean. It was 5:00 am and they were a bit hard on us demanding for we guessed as our passports. Isabel were ordered to pass by the other line because they mistook her to be Korean. So funny that time.

Inside the airport, the feeling was so unexplainable. It was my first time abroad and alone, without my parents nor friends. It was plain Isabel and I. I was afraid what could happened if things get wrong but I was determined to make things right. The boy scout in me made me prepare all things needed just in case a problem happens. I have all the contact numbers to call. So, having a few Korean coins given by Prof. Umali, we called our buddy who would pick us up at the airport. Time check, 5:45.

The buddy arrived at around 7am and treated us to a coffee shop for breakfast. Her name’s Hu Eun Ji. After that, we took the bus going to Chuncheon and along the way, I still couldn’t believe that I am here in Korea. It was so great.

At Hallym, we stayed in a dormitory. It was called International Dormitory because aside from us Filipinos, there were also Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Russians and of course Koreans. The male and female residents are separated in the dormitory. During the second semester there, I stayed at the 4th floor with two Korean men. Their names are Song Won and Dillon.

When I got into my room, my roommates weren’t there so I was really anxious not knowing what to expect. Then after unpacking some of my stuff, Isabel came to my room and asked for some shampoo because she still doesn't have. So after taking a shower, Isabe and I together with Hu Eun Ji went out to eat lunch. We ate lunch at the cafeteria and the food was called Topap, a kind breaded pork cutlet with sauce.

After eating lunch, we went to our department to process our schedules for the semester. Then we met our real buddies in Hallym. My buddy’s name is Park Bo Reom. She was a tall and pretty girl. Then at night, we ate dinner, the food was called Dakkalbi, chicken with vegetable which was so spicy. I had to contend with the fact that I don’t know how to use chopsticks so I asked for some fork.

And then the following day, we did some shopping at the local department store. Bought some toiletries and some food. At night, we drank at a local bar, I must tell you that this time, I wasn’t a heavy drinker yet and I despise drinking so I refused but they were so insistent that I just gave in. Nothing wrong with drinking anyway.

Then we had a meeting with the dormitory personnel and they briefed us of what and not to do in the dormitory. We were also introduced to some people.

The first few days in Hallym was really a challenge as I and Isabel had to find our ways, the rooms, the professors, the stores, the canteen, etc. But later on, we managed to find them all.

Making friends was not difficult too because Koreans like foreigners very much that they would treat us to some lunch or dinner, and even bring us to some good places. They really make effort to make us enjoy our stay at Hallym. And the best thing at Hallym was that everything is so fast, the computers, the people, the taxi, traffic, everything. People are very disciplined so there was nothing that I can whine about. It’s like a paradise to me. Athough one glitch that we Filipinos notice was that, Korean men spit anywhere. Aside from that everything’s okay.

I regularly drink with my Korean friends as if it became a way of living. I learned that drinking culture in Korea is somewhat necessary because it makes people closer to each other and I admire that. This is the reason why I became a heavy drinker, weekly drunk, I would curse myself for bringing headache on mornings. But it was really great, to drink with Koreans because they don’t let me pay. They are usually the ones who pay for everything and when Koreans drink, the food is like a buffet. They never stop coming so it was heaven on our part.

Enrollment process

When we arrived at Hallym, our enrollment was already done for us. We only needed to get our schedules. The administration was the one that decided our classes so we didn’t have any problem. For the next semester, it was we who did it. I had to ask some of my Korean friends to help me choose my subjects because everything was written in Korean in the online enrolment. But aside from my friends, the Communication department was also very helpful.

Financial Assistance

The dormitory where I was staying pays me 200,000 Won every month. They send it to my bank account. But this salary I received was only good for 8 months, so there was one month that I didn’t have money. I had to work some other jobs like work for some professors who organized an international conference and hired me as one of the coordinators for the participants. There were also Koreans who approached me to teach them English, plus there were English camps that also paid me. So money was not a problem in Korea.

How would you describe the Hallym University campus environment?


Classes enrolled in

Most of my classes, aside from Korean and Chinese, were done in English and considering that my classmates are mostly Koreans, they were too easy and do not require too much effort.

Professors

The foreign professors, Canadians, Australians, and Americans, were very professional and learned at their fields. They always give us foreigners who can speak English well special treatment because we can participate well in our classes.

Friends / People met

The friends and people I meet at Hallym were all very approachable. They really try their best to help me if there is something that I need and even if they find it difficult to speak in English, they really try. And all the people I met there were nice. I love them.

Leisure time

During free time I do so many things like play table tennis and badminton, watch DVD, surf the net, sleep in the library when I am so tired, drink coffee with my friends, or just walk around the campus. If I am hungry, I go the cafeteria and eat some good Chinese food.

Overall Evaluation

Please give a general evaluation of your stay in Hallym University

I think words are not enough to say how much I have enjoyed my stay in Hallym. The University is perfect in every way. They have all the facilities needed by the students and the campus is student friendly, safe and peaceful, clean and beautiful with all the trees and statues that are present all around the campus. Plus, internet is free and there are DVDs in the library which you can borrow. The DVDs are all the latest ones so you can just imagine how fantastic it was so see all the movies I could not see here in the Philippines.

And the journals in the library is like a treasure box for me. They have almost all journals imaginable. Perfect I tell you.

What were your most fun / positive experiences in Hallym University?

I had so many fun experiences at Hallym University. Perhaps the best ones include the day that Isabel and I won in the singing competition of the International Dormitory, the Membership training of communication students where everyone drank from evening to dawn, the International conference where people drank so much and I got so drank too that I started fooling around with the speakers (you can ask Isabel how drunk I was) that the following day, Isabel told me that I was criss crossing the way to the university elbow to elbow with the Taiwanese speaker and I kept talking to the Singaporean speaker saying how much I admire her talk during the conference; there was also the time that I represented Hallym University at an affair for foreigners where I sang in front of hundreds of people both Koreans and foreigners mostly Filipina wives; And of course, my drinking activities with my Korean friends were so memorable.
 
What were your most frustrating / negative experiences in Hallym University?

Most frustrating experience would be that time when I was at the library, watching Will and Grace. I was laughing a bit loudly that one guy from my back suddenly hit me at the head. I was so shocked but I realized my mistake so I just let it pass. Then another frustrating experience was when I went mountain climbing. I was at the top, doing some stretching when an old lady approached me and asked me whether I was a factory worker in some place near Hallym. I was so insulted that time that I just smiled at her and politely said no.

What are the problems you encountered during your stay in Hallym University?

The number one problem I think is the language barrier. Although many students can speak English in Hallym still not many would dare talk to us because we can’t speak Korean. And then the food, all the time I was in Hallym, I kept wishing I could eat Filipino food, the oily Filipino food. That’s why when I went to Seoul, I bought some Balot at a Filipino market. Unfortunately, it made my Korean companions distance from me as I smell awful after eating balot. The weather also became a problem as there was a time when I got sick for one month, then I lost my voice because it was too cold. Guess I wasn’t so tough on winter season.

Please give a brief comparison of Hallym University and University of the Philippines in terms of:

Level of Instruction (subjects, professors, etc.)

The level of instruction when it comes to English is very easy in Hallym. The English  professors try to make their statements as simple as they can. In UP, the level of instruction is very challenging as professors use jargons most of the time.

However, in Korean classes, the Korean teachers are more strict when handling their classes. But they are also considerate to the needs of the students. They consider the welfare of their students as they ask when is the best time for the students to have exams, or when can they pass some homework.

In UP, teachers dictate what students should do. In Hallym, the teachers ask their students.

The people (students, etc.)

The students are very responsible in Hallym. If a professor asks them to do something, they will really do it and if they don’t have time, they will talk to the professor and ask for some extension or simply tell the professor that they can’t do it because it is very difficult. At the end of the day, Hallym students submit requirements on time.

At UP, students are usually procrastinators and do not have sense of time. It’s normal for UP students to be late but in Hallym, it is very unacceptable and they get angry if someone does not come on time.

Personnel in Hallym are also very approachable and helpful. If you ask them something, they would really make  an effort to help you or if they can’t, they will find another one who can just to make sure that you get what you need.

In UP, personnel are usually not student friendly. If you approach someone in a window, they will make you wait for a long time, sometimes because there is someone they are talking to or calling on the phone. Then when they talk to you, it’s as if you’ve given them so much burden by coming to their office.

Environment

Hallym University is a very clean and safe place. You can go around and you won’t see any trash lying around anywhere. And because it is safe, you never have to worry about walking at night. And the drivers in Hallym are very polite too, they would let people pass first before they go ahead.

In UP, sometimes trash can be seen everywhere. People are not disciplined enough to put their garbage in proper places. And it is so unsafe to walk at night in UP as you can encounter robbers or rapists. 

Place

Hallym University is not so big compared to UP but I really like the place. Everywhere there are parking lots, the buildings are clean, the toilets are clean and they have tissues in every toilet. The facilities are state of the art, and they have all the equipment you might need.


As a participant in the Hallym University – University of the Philippines Academic Exchange Program, what are your suggestions or recommendations for further improvement of the exchange program?

I would suggest that participants of the program learn how to speak Korean first before they are sent to Hallym University. Although it is not so difficult to live there not knowing how to speak their language, it is an edge to know how to communicate using their own tongue. My Mongolian friends who can speak Korean had more friends in Hallym because they can interact with Koreans who cannot speak English.

For UP’s part, it must also come up with a similar BUDDY PROGRAM for Korean Exchange students in the university. I know how difficult it is to become a foreign student so I feel for these Koreans who sometimes feel perplexed with their classes and Filipino classmates. Sometimes they feel that the Filipinos are rude because they always talk in Filipino when they are together and take the Koreans fro granted. By having some buddies, they will be sure to have someone to help them with their needs.

UP students who would apply as buddies should be remunerated in turn for their work. The university can give them more opportunity to be selected in exchange programs not just in Hallym but other countries as well. By doing so, many students would be enticed to participate in the Buddy program.

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