On Friday 6th of March CITO representatives Linn Hantoft and Tommy Engqvist met up with Pontus Dahlenborg and Lennart Lundberg, exchange students at Seoul National University. Pontus and Lennart came to Seoul in September 2014 and will study there for a whole academic year, until the summer of 2015.
They describe Seoul and South Korea as a friendly place to be and live in. They have come to like both the city and the people living there. As they now have lived in Seoul for half a year they have experienced both similarities and differences between Sweden and South Korea. First of all, they have had a great welcoming at their new University. They both have got groups consisting of foreign and South Korean students that have taken them under their arms as they arrived in Seoul. This group is throughout the year frequently arranging dinners, events and trips that they can take part in, something that has made it easier to get into the South Korean way of living and have made them know a lot of people.
Seoul National University, where Lennart and Pontus are studying, is considered as one of the top Universities in South Korea. They both enjoy studying there and describe the way of studying as quite different from Sweden. Here the courses stretch over one semester and during the autumn they took four classes each. At Chalmers the courses are only nine weeks long, which means they have twice as long time to learn the course content in South Korea. They also have a lot of more homework in Seoul compared to back home in Sweden, something that enables them to learn the courses piece by piece rather than to just focus on one big exam.
Lennart and Pontus describe the South Koreans as very friendly and caring, something they appreciate a lot. There are however often some language barrier between the South Koreans and the Swedes, since a lot of people in South Korea speak very little English. Pontus and Lennart have however tried to overcome this by taking a language course in Korean. The Korean language is hard in most ways and not that hard in other ways. In terms of speaking and listening, it is almost impossible to learn in that short amount of time. However, Korean is not that hard to learn to read. This is because it consists of only around 40 different Hangul consonants and vowels. Every Hangul has a single pronunciation, which makes it possible to read Korean with quite a limited amount of practice.