Due to the student's privacy the names have been changed.
Korean students who came to America (aka those who come for the first time during college)
Korean Student #1: Kris Kim 1. What was the culture difference or shock you have impacted and change your perspective as an international student? The relationship between students and professor. In Korea, it is very strict and hierarchic relationship between students and teacher. For example, when professor gives out students a paper, Korean students need to get with both hands (It's like a polite culture). However, in America, the relationship between students and professor is like a friend? or at least in a same rank. They call the professor's first name easily, and express their thought during the class actively. My perspective on Professor had been changed. I have to respect the professor, but I also have to ask questions easily, and in a comfortable atmosphere. (In Korea, teachers barely answer to students friendly)
2. What have influenced you to come here to the US to be a student here ? My father influenced on me to study abroad, and I think most of international students do that. My father emphasized broad perspectives to see the world, and emphasized how English in important in Korean society. It is quite advantage for studying abroad in Korean society.
3. What hardship you have struggled here as a student can be language barriers? When native speakers speak too fast and mix slang, it is hard to understand and catch what were they saying. It's during the conversation, so I can't cut the conversation, and ask what did they mean. In that case, I try to feel what they said, but not 100% sure. And when I make a sentence, Native speakers said they can understand what I tried to say, but it's too weird.
4. Where there times that you wanted to go back to South Korea through such hardship and culture difference? Sometimes I feel uncomfortable because of a cultural difference, but it is not that big making me to go back to Korea. I've never felt the cultural difference is stressful.
5. What is your life experience here outside as a student in the US? I think most of my life experience here is similar with living in Korea. I meant routine life, for example, people in the subway, people in shopping mall, people in restaurant, they are all same. This maybe because I don't have special life other than student in college.
6. How do you feel when you speak Korean to Korean American students who were born in the states? Despite the grammar. Do you feel like there are times that you don’t understand what they said at times? It is good for having a conversation topic easily like Korean culture. Also, mixing Korean and English makes conversation much easier than other native speakers. For example, " Sometimes it's very helpful when I can't find appropriate words in English.”
7. Did you ever felt pressured with racism here in the states from other students? I've never felt racism directly. I've experienced two white people and three drunk African American people teased me or made me fun, I think that's a matter of his/her personality, not a big deal. 8. Do you get pressured from society? As an international student, (without green card or citizenship), I have so many restrictions. (like getting a job or internship or making money).
Korean Student #2: Johnathan Lee 1. Why did you want to come to the US as a student? I was interested in physics and astronomy. In fact, it is hard to find a university that has an astronomy department in Korea. So, I decided to go to America, and I had a dream that I wanted to study in America from my childhood, and I wanted my parents to do the same.
2. What is your life experience here outside as a student in the US? First of all, I think Korea is freer than university, and the relationship between professor and student is closer. And college students in America have a lot of questions in class. In Korea, students hate students who ask a lot of questions. Because the class has to be done early, Korean students think that the questioning student is delaying the class.
3. How do you feel when you speak Korean to Korean American students who were born in the states? Despite the grammar. Do you feel like there are times that you don’t understand what they said at times? First of all, I am so grateful that they know how to speak Korean. Because, they are not obliged to learn Korean. Therefore, as a Korean, there is no problem that Korean-American cannot speak Korean. Sometimes we do not understand they're Korean, but we have a desire to teach, and we can understand that mind because we can not speak English.
4. Did you ever felt pressured with racism here in the states from other students? I have never been racist as a student yet.
5. Do you get pressured from society? No
6. What was the cultural difference or shock you have impacted and change your perspective as an international student? First of all, the American tip culture was very strange at first. In Korea, there is no system to tip in restaurants. At first, this American culture was a bit stunning, and because there are so many races living in California, we can share various perspectives and views. Korea is a Korean nation and there are not many foreign residents in the country. Also, It is hard to have various perspectives because there is not a lot of opportunities to talk with travelers as general students. Nowadays, I can feel diversity in the US and that changed my perspective a lot .
7. What have influenced you to come here to the US to be a student here ? It broadens views and diverse perspectives, and feels a lot of America's advanced citizenship in life.
8. What hardship you have struggled here as a student can be language barriers? Sometimes they encounter English barriers in experimental or discussion classes. However, I think that it is a problem that must be overcome as an international student inevitably.
9. Were there times that you wanted to go back to South Korea through such hardship and culture difference? No. I think that American culture is a Western culture completely opposite to Korean culture, but Korea has a lot of similarities because it has followed the American capitalist system and social system. Therefore, there are many cultural differences but it is suitable to live because system and price are similar.
10. Do you get pressured from the US and did want to go back to Korea? No. Sometimes it is difficult because of loneliness, but I never thought I would want to go back to Korea because of some pressure.
Korean American Students
Korean American Student #1: Grace Lee As talking to some of the students, 1. Did you felt pressured as being a Korean American? Yes. As a Korean American who actually can actually speak, read, and write in Korean I felt pressured when other Koreans or non-Koreans had expected me to do things that were beyond my comfort zone. (translating Korean text or songs instantly).
2. Did you felt racism or bullied as growing up in the states? Yes. Not specifically as for being Korean but in general as an Asian person. I had an incident before where a friend was told to not play with me anymore by her mother because I was “Chinese”.
3. Was it difficult learning English and Korean growing up? Was it required to learn it as home by parents or grandparents? I learned for my parents. It wasn’t difficult since I was exposed at a young age.
4. Did you feel the culture difference between Korean students who came from American and Korean Americans? Yes. Korean students that are actually from Korea carry themselves very differently from Korean Americans. The standards and expectations in Korea are greatly displayed in the Korean students that I have met. Almost creating something that could be viewed as a stereotype.
5. Do you feel like your very different from Korean students when you are with them? Yes. We have different values and understandings on certain events. How I react and how Korean students react are quite different from what I have seen. Mostly when I am with other Korean girls, many who prioritize beauty over anything. Whereas I have grown to be comfortable enough to not make physical beauty my main priority.
6. Did you know the depth about the Korean History as a Korean American growing up? Either hearing from your parents, grandparents or other relatives who came from the United States as immigrants? Mostly, from Korean news. I don’t entirely know where I first learned thing.
7. What have shocked you from how Koreans interact and Korean Americans react? Nothing really shocks me now. I know what to expect in terms of interaction.
Korean American Student #2: Julie Park 1. Did you felt pressured as being a Korean American? I always felt pressured because As a Korean American there are many boundaries of knowing two worlds in my life and what is my identity as a Korean and as an American. I also felt like because I am Asian that I would have to be in that particular background. Identifying as Korean and American at the same time.
2. Did you felt racism or bullied as growing up in the states? I didn’t feel like it was racism, but I did get mistaken as a Chinese the most and Filipino many times when I tell people I am Korean. This happens when people talk to me in either Mandarin or Chinese from Chinese people and I don’t know a single word in the language and I simply tell I don’t know the language in English. I did get used in hearing that I am Chinese or hearing the Chinese language. I just felt like I never get bullied or shown racism of who I am.
3. Was it difficult learning English and Korean growing up? Was it required to learn it as home by parents or grandparents? I did learn English from my parents, but then it was limited to my extent. I felt when I got into middle school that I had to learn English. When I watch Korean Drama or K POP that influenced me to develop my Korean. I have some barriers now speaking Korean because there are some definitions that I don’t know in Korean.
4. Did you feel the culture difference between Korean students who came from American and Korean Americans? Yes, I do. I feel like the standards in how they dress is a lot different than the states and the expectations they are looking for. They are many times in their own group of people. Also, the beauty standards are a big thing for Koreans. Their trends must be on top of the games as trends in Korea flies. Typical Korean Americans wear like what most American people wears.
5. Do you feel like your very different from Korean students when you are with them? Yes. We all have different and how we interact. The culture difference can fit because even though we try to balance each other out, but the barriers between the two worlds are different.
6. Did you know the depth about the Korean History as a Korean American growing up? Either hearing from your parents, grandparents or other relatives who came from the United States as immigrants? I would say Korean news I hear briefly and I do here very few things from my parents.
7. What have shocked you from how Koreans interact and Korean Americans react? Not really, because it influences that you will know what to expect now after interacting with them. There would be pro and cons for everyone.
Korean students who come to the U.S. for education as children (goose family)
What is goose family? In South Korea, “goose family” is a phrase to described families that sending the mother and children to English speaking countries for education, while the father of the family is staying in Korea to support them financially. The word “goose” refers to the way geese migrate each year. Like the geese, the separated family only reunites once a year. Why sending children overseas? The parents believe that sending their children overseas can help them escape Korean school system, and their children also have great opportunities to learn English. After they finish Western education, they are expected to return home with huge educational advantages. Experiences The “goose family” migration does not just affect children, it also affects the whole family. Kids often struggle in school at the early time because English is not their home language, and the mother also becomes depressed and isolated. The father feels stressful and lonely because he lives alone in Korea, and some of them also experience mental and alcohol problems. New migrated family tends to make friends with other Korean family, and they often have activities in local Korean church. Although they make friends with other Korean, at the same time, they also keep themselves away from Western culture. After their kids have learned English and Western culture from school, the parents started worrying about their children will forget Korean language and lose their “Korean identity”. For some families with older children, it is difficult for them to go back to Korea after they live in the West for years. Even they want to go back, it is almost impossible for them to catch up things in school.