[Letters] Challenges of studying abroad

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[Letters] Challenges of studying abroad

Soo Kim, a freshman international student at the flagship University of Arizona, writes that “each year 44 percent of Korean students at major U.S. universities drop out .?.?. Students returning from the U.S. complain about tremendously high tuition and poor quality of school resources and services.”

I believe Kim is referring to a study conducted as part of a Ph.D. thesis by a student at Columbia University which focuses on Korean undergraduates at Ivy League schools, and the shocking statistic quoted was in relation to overall graduation rates.

I was recently asked by one of my former students at Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies in Yongin now finishing her first year at the flagship University of Illinois, what I missed most about Korea. I miss being treated as a tin god because I am male. The rest of my letter to her discussed the double standard. John Stuart Mill, in his work on the “Subjection of Women,” said that under the English common law the legal status of a wife was that of “a personal body servant of a despot.” Lord Byron wrote: “Man, to man so oft unjust, is always so to women.”

However, Kim believes the core problem is the international students themselves. On campus, they tend to associate themselves only with people of the same nationality. “They are not willing to speak English within their group .??.. There are also free weekly writing improvement programs open for any students enrolled at the University of Arizona. Last fall, when I went to one of these sessions, every student there was a graduate international student except for me.”

I won’t return to Korea because I’m past 65 years of age. I can support Kim’s main argument; I taught at Inchon Science High School more than two decades ago. Forty percent of the students at that elite high school went on to Kaist after their junior year back then, while the remainder finished their senior year on the Yeongjong-Yongyu Island campus, and then headed out to SKY and Ewha. This year there were a great many freshman applicants to my alma mater, the flagship University of California. The UC system accepted 9,552 out-of-state and international students, up 25 percent from last year. UC Berkeley nearly doubled such offers to 3,455, with the goal of having non-Californians make up about 20 percent of its freshman class, compared to 13 percent last year.


Richard Thompson,

San Diego
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