Suji Han, from South Korea, is a junior majoring in Art and Sculpture while also improving her English. She is attending the Intensive American Language Center (IALC) at Washington State University (WSU).
Why did you decide to study in the USA?
There is a difference in the education system between America and Korea. My degree is art and I have not had many opportunities for being creative and I heard in America there are more creative systems and classrooms.
Why did you choose the Intensive American Language Center at Washington State University?
I chose the Intensive American Language Center (IALC) at Washington State University because it is my aunt’s school. She is an exchange professor at WSU. My mom suggested I come here to increase my English abilities.
What do you like best?
I have a chance to improve my English and I can see and feel other cultures. I see all different things that are interesting.
How has your English improved?
I have been here for six months and my English writing has really improved since coming here. I did not know any grammar. The IALC has been very helpful for me.
What was your biggest surprise?
Seeing musicians on the street corners of Seattle, because in Korea, people will think it's weird if they express themselves artistically.
How have you handled:
... language differences?
When meeting someone, I use the Internet for searching vocabulary or I ask my friends who are stronger English speakers.
My parents handle my finances, but after I graduate I will pay them back. Day-to-day finances are the same as in Korea and was not a big change for me. I was surprised that Starbucks here is very cheap.
... adjusting to a different educational system?
I like the education system here; I found it very helpful that they did not require strict memorization. We make use of vocabulary and use it in classroom lectures and then use it in research articles too. I don’t have to memorize, but I learn and remember.
What are your activities?
I just traveled to LA [Los Angeles] and Seattle. I took a road trip to LA and it was very exciting. The scenery is very different and beautiful. It took two days with friends ... there were art galleries, shopping, beaches and a lot of Korean food. In Seattle we went to more galleries, Pike Place market, and I just walked around.
How easy or difficult is making friends?
At first I found it very difficult to make friends, especially because I was not confident to talk to American people. It has gotten easier to make friends as my English improved.
How relevant is your U.S. education to your personal goals and to the needs of your country?
I want to be a professor at Gaochon University and it is a requirement for me to have an overseas experience. There are many people in Korea that want to go to U.S. and the companies want high-level TOEFL or TOEIC scores for people to work for them.
What is your advice to other students?
If you have a responsibility to your family and to yourself I recommend coming to America. America has a great opportunity to challenge you and meet various kinds of people. If you have a strong goal, I recommend coming here.