South Korean exchange student adjusts to Wisconsin


Senior exchange student Namhun Kim is visiting from South Korea, and after a semester he has learned new things about America, and the people around him have learned new things about South Korea.

“I thought America is very active and caffeine-free. I think Wisconsin is a little bit cold, but it’s good. They have a good nature and a lot of animals. They have activities like hunting or fishing, I expected that,” said Kim.

While Namhun has been in the U.S., his thoughts on America have changed.

“I had the American dream before coming here. Now it’s changed. Still, America is a very good country with many good people. I like it,” said Kim.

He has learned some new things America, and they’ve changed his views.

“When I lived in Korea, when I studied in my Korean high school, I never really liked STEM, STEM subjects, or American football. I never really learned about that. After I came here, [I] learned about football, about STEM,” said Kim.

While Kim did learn new things about America, those around him have learned new things about South Korea. Before meeting Kim, freshman Mason Schultz was less knowledgeable about South Korea.

“I didn’t really know that much about it. I just thought it was mostly city. That’s about it,” said Schultz.

After meeting Namhun, Mason had learned some things about Korean life.

“He taught me that a lot of people live in apartments. There’s some big business over there–that kind of stuff, and that it is mainly city,” said Schultz.

Schultz has also learned a few new words in Korean like Kamsahamnida, which means “thank you.”

Kim’s host parent, Technology Support Specialist Travis Hendrickson, is also learning.

“Some of the things that I didn’t know about South Korea was that they have almost no wildlife there. They mostly have squirrels and small animals, and I thought they cared about North Korea like the United States does–which they don’t,” said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson elaborated on the things that he has learned about South Korea.

“With North Korea, I thought they cared a lot about their neighbor and what they are doing. It’s more of an American thing than a South Korean thing–they mostly ignore them. Since they only have a few small animals and wildlife, I thought they had a bunch of larger animals in the mountains, but there’s not really any at all,” said Hendrickson.

In all of this, Hendrickson also says that he’s learned about the unique schooling system in South Korea.

“They are quite school-oriented. They go to school from 8 am to 10 pm. They get served lunch and dinner. If they have a parent at the school, the kid can’t go to that school because of corruption reasons because they are so aimed towards education there,” said Hendrickson.