Putting the "I" in International

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Author: Alicia Mark

Have you ever wondered what life is like in another part of the world? From the basics such as, what people eat, wear and do on their weekends, to the more deep aspects such as, what their customs and traditions are, ideas on religion, and their political system. There are 195 countries in this world, and in each country there are numerous cultures that provide a unique perspective on how to live.

The global world interests me a lot, which is why I decided to be actively involved in the VIU International Education faculty. Many people assume that the international Building is strictly for international students, however there are many activities and opportunities for domestic students, which I was able to participate in. Through VIU’s International Education department I was able to obtain a position as a Peer Helper, engage in activities such as Cultural Couch, create a VIU club called The International Social Club and lastly, travel abroad to South Korea.

I recently returned from South Korea, where I stayed for one month to participate in the Bahrom International Program, which focuses on South Korean language and culture. This program was amazing as it was not only very informative during classes, but it was very interactive due to the numerous field trips that we had. Obviously there are a lot of cultural differences between South Korea and Canada, but this program helped me notice the similarities as well.

By being actively engaged in the international community of VIU I feel that it helped me prepare for my trip to South Korea. I gained a tremendous amount of appreciation and awareness of multiple countries and cultures, which let me keep an open mind while traveling abroad. Also, through the connections I made with international students at VIU, I was able to get advice and recommendations for things to do and eat during my time in South Korea. By participating in all of these programs through VIU’s International Education department, I was able to gain self-confidence during my preparation for my South Korea trip and maintained it while I was there.

This world is so big, and there are so many people to meet, places to see, and things to do. Even if traveling does not suit you, then getting to know people from different countries and being able to have honest and interesting conversations about their lifestyles, food, politics and society is extremely eye opening and rewarding as well. I believe that the more you learn or hear about another person’s perspective on the world, then your own ideas and outlook begin to broaden as well.