Exchange student “Dutch people are super nice, and direct”
Yunim Kim is an exchange student from South Korea who came to HAN for her Life Sciences studies. Having no trouble finding a room in Nijmegen, and after a highly enjoyable summer trip through Europe and of course HAN’s introduction week, her exchange is off to the perfect start.
It’s the first weekday without classes for Yunim, and she’s planning to use it well. After the interview, she’ll go for a coffee in the city centre with a classmate. “There’s a class here that’s quite new for me, so she offered to help me prepare a bit.”
At my uni in Korea we don’t have many practical courses on research, but at HAN there are.
Yunim decided to go for an exchange in Nijmegen because she liked the idea of going to the Netherlands, and the curriculum at the HAN perfectly suited her needs. “After my studies, I want to continue doing research in the field of neurogenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s. At my uni in Korea we don’t have many practical courses on research, but at HAN there are.”
After her arrival in the Netherlands in July, Yunim started off her first ever visit to Europe with trips to various places. She went to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary, and found herself impressed by the rich and well-preserved architecture. “It’s pretty hard to find like 15/16th century buildings in Korea. All buildings there are relatively new, and generally much higher than here!”
Of all the places she saw, Budapest was her favourite. Yunim smiles: “After the Netherlands, of course. But the amazing architecture of Budapest, the view of the city especially at night and the vibrant nightlife - I loved it.”
To me that was really surprising. In Korea people wouldn’t do that, they feel they would be intruding someone’s personal space.
'Intruding personal space'
Besides the buildings, the Dutch people made a good first impression on Yunim as well. “I’m surprised by how friendly and direct everyone is here. The first moment I realized that was while taking the train. There was a man sleeping, deeply. He set an alarm for himself, but that didn’t wake him up. So people around him tried to wake him up, which wasn’t easy haha. In the end they managed, and he got off the train. To me that was really surprising. In Korea people wouldn’t do that, they feel they would be intruding someone’s personal space.”
All in all, Yunim has had a great first couple months in Europe and Nijmegen. But since she is quite a long way from home, there must be things she’s missing as well. “Oh yes, I miss Korea very much. My family and friends, of course. And Korean food!” Her favourite? “It’s called tteokbokki, it’s a rice cake with spicy red pepper paste. And there are lots of variations of this dish, it’s fun to try all the different ones.
For now, Yunim’s focus is on the Netherlands though. “And I’m happy to be here.” In the weekend, she’ll be visiting Groningen with her Korean flatmate. And not just for tourist reasons. “My boyfriend is doing his exchange there! He’s German, we were doing long distance before. It’s great that we will be able to visit each other often now.”
Text by Pim Muller
Photo by Roos Teunissen