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  • Writer's pictureJacob Houston

South Korean Student Provides Her Perspective on American Schooling

Perspective controls one’s outlook and point of view on the world around them, and can govern decisions one makes throughout life in the real world. That is why, in many ways, having an open mind is always important if one is to understand the intricacies of concepts like foreign or cultural relations, or in some cases, the “outside world”.

As the brilliant author Mark Twain quotes, “An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought into it”.

Seojin Yang, a South Korean student who attends Hanseo High School in Seoul, South Korea, provides us with a different perspective on America and the rest of the world in terms of education.

It is such a great opportunity to have you today.

“Thank you for having me. I actually just got out of school a few hours ago, so this was extremely convenient.”

That’s great! Well, to start off, what’s your impression of education, particularly secondary schooling in the United States of America?

“Well, in terms of schooling, I do have the impression of secondary school in America being difficult, especially in terms of different classes offered and what not. In addition, with the United States being known as the country with some of the greatest universities in the world as of now, I would assume that puts a lot of stress on students to do well and live up to America’s reputation.”

Ah. Would you say that schooling in South Korea is extremely challenging?

“Challenging wise, you would be correct. The schooling, classwork, and everything gets difficult, especially when you reach secondary school. And with that workload comes the Suneung or the College Scholastic Ability Test. I myself started studying for the test the entirety of my first year of secondary school, and attended many cram schools. When the test day comes, planes are grounded, they close certain businesses and construction sites so as to not cause any trouble for the students, and there are many other precautions taken to not disturb students taking the test. It is a big day in everyone’s secondary school life in South Korea.”

Interesting. Do you enjoy schooling in South Korea?

“Of course, it is extremely fun, and is not much different from American schooling on social aspects. Of course, there is a set curriculum we have for certain classes we can take, and when I studied abroad in America, I remembered that students could choose which classes they wished to take, so I thought that was really cool.”

Which university would you attend if you were to go to Tertiary School in the United States?

“Harvard University or another Ivy League. There is no question about that much! I have actually visited Harvard’s campus, and I was amazed at the focus and dignity of the students, it was absolutely a great experience. Many of my classmates admire the United States for its fabulous colleges and universities, especially the Ivy Leagues. They are the best of the best.”

That is so great! Visiting Harvard University sounds like such an amazing experience. We had spoken about perspective before, and you had mentioned that you had had some things to say about keeping an “open mind”? What are your closing thoughts on this?

“I believe, for the most part, everyone, whether you be in America, South Korea, or any other part of the world should keep an open mind to new things. In turn, I believe you will earn the respect of others, and you will learn invaluable information, and all in all, I think you would have a great experience.

There were several incidents in Seoul where foreigners were complaining about not being able to get around and that the locals were being unhelpful. It was discovered that those foreigners were making fun of Korean culture and completely neglecting cultural values and what not. So, it is always great to respect other cultures and to respect others opinions on different matters. This all comes with having an open mind and being able to accept and take in “outside” ideals. I believe that this is what truly makes a great person and a scholar.”


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