Lectures in Seoul

Class Culture:

One thing that is widely known in the United States is how narrow the scope of discussion is allowed to be in the classroom. Whether you are a student in college, high school, or younger, a professor does not have free reign to express their personal view points on religion or politics very often, if at all. I learned in one of my first classes here at Hanyang, that the case is very different here. Not only do I have professors introducing themselves and continuing on about their religious history, but I also sense an almost non-existent level of animosity between students in the classroom when these viewpoints are expressed.

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Two of the courses I am enrolled in, Marketing Research and Marketing Management, are a fair size of about 45 students, split by 50% Korean and 50% European, Chinese, American (2 of us), and more. In most ways, the classes actually feel quite similar to the ones I am used to back home in the US. Everyone sits very close together, usually with the friends they came with, and familiar faces engage in occasional small talk. However, the student to teacher respect level seems to be much more prominent, especially from the Korean students. Everyone removes their hats immediately after they enter the room, nobody is sitting on their phone the whole lecture, and very rarely do you hear social whispering while the professor is giving his lecture. It is very common in the US for you to see students putting away their notes and zipping their backpacks when the clock tells them that the professor has to stop lecturing in the next 5 minutes, it comes across as very rude and can actually be very distracting. Here however, every student sits facing the professor and prepared to stay taking notes until the professor clearly states that we are dismissed; this may be 20 minutes before class time is met or 5 minutes after. My Marketing Research professor, J.S Kim, usually thanks the students at the end of the class for listening so attentively which shows his acknowledgment of the respect that the students have for him.

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Lesson Plans:

There is definitely a less strict emphasis on following lecture plans at Hanyang in comparison to what I am used to back home. Rather than rushing to get a new chapter completed by the end of each lecture, the professors at Hanyang take more time to engage with students over their thoughts of the material and also take time out of their lecture plan to teach lessons aside from the required course material. For example, some of the lessons I’ve learned from my marketing management professor are things such as: “having a positive energy and attitude will always get you further than a negative one,” “Don’t expect to get flattered for getting good marks, we are students that are here to learn and work hard, we are expected to get good marks,” and to “appreciate the food that your parents prepare for you because that is the best food you will ever taste in life.” Obviously all of these lessons have very little, if anything, to do with marketing, but the professor puts emphasis on teaching his students more than just material you can read in a textbook.

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I am also enrolled in the MBA course, Understanding Global Business, which so far focuses on global economics. This is a small class of about 15 students; I am the only American and the rest of the class consists of students from Iran, France, Germany, China, and Korea. Something that has taken a lot of adjusting to is listening to all the other students talk about what they have learned from their home universities about the United States’ economic success. A lot of the students in this class are talking about the current US political election more than I hear students from the US talking about it. Additionally, they all have such a strong belief that being fluent in English is so important, and most of them are even trilingual.

Taking classes at Hanyang is going to teach me a lot more than what I have signed up to learn about which is something I greatly look forward to. I’ve already learned so much about the cultures of so many different countries since being enrolled with classes from students from all over the world. I look forward so continuing my education with all of my intellectual classmates and professors.

Article by Rachel from the U.S.A.

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