Internationalizing the Educational Experience

Adding an international flair to the educational experience at CSUSM, students from China and Korea shared presentations about their home country's culture, cuisine, and traditions to a packed audience during the Office of Global Education's second International Education Week. This annual week of events aims to expose students to different cultures to both celebrate diversity and spark interest in traveling or participating in a study abroad program.

"We learn so much from those who are different than us, who do things differently, and who share their values, way of life and cultural norms with us," said Danielle McMartin, associate director of the CSUSM Office of Global Education. "International education offers opportunities for students to grow and learn culturally both inside and outside the classroom. It gives us all a broader world view."

On Wednesday, November 17, five student-presenters provided an overview of the vibrant and distinctive cultures of China and Korea highlighting traditional foods, national holidays, transportation systems, and desirable tourist spots. Table etiquette was also discussed. In Korean culture, students explained that it is proper to wait for the oldest person at a table to begin eating first. Later, attendees dabbled in the two languages, learning to say hello in Chinese (Ni Hao) and Korean (An Nyung Ha Se Yo).

Some students also shared local dining tips, revealing their favorite nearby restaurants that serve up authentic cuisine from their respective country.

"I really enjoy introducing others to Korean culture," explained presenter Hyeeun Jo, a Korean exchange student studying business at CSUSM. "I've noticed that most Americans aren't very familiar with Korean customs, food, or traditions. I like being able to expose other students to my culture and share the unique attributes of my country."

Beyond the differences of tradition, Jo also discussed how the college environment and academic structure varies between the U.S. and her hometown university, Sungkyunkwan, which is located in downtown Seoul, Korea.

"In Korea, college students don't raise their hand in class to ask the professor a question," Jo explained. "Also, the grading system in Korea is different. Rather than receiving the letter grade A for earning 94 percent in a course, students at a Korean university are ranked on a curve system. So 94 percent could translate to an average or below average score in some classes."

In addition to the culture presentations, the second annual International Education Week, which was hosted from Nov. 15-19, featured a workshop offering travel tips and tricks; presentations about study abroad programs; a special extended international coffee hour, including an artistic fundraiser benefiting International Medical Corps; and a week-long international photo contest showcasing 45 entries from students, staff and faculty.

Each year, CSUSM welcomes more than 250 international students to campus and connects more than 120 CSUSM undergraduates and graduates with summer, semester or year-long study abroad and exchange programs in 19 countries.

"Travel, and more importantly, study abroad, is not about how many places we see and can check off of our travel lists," said Study Abroad Coordinator Tiffany Gabbard. "It's about the people we meet who make a lasting impression, who teach us to see the world through their eyes and help us to recognize both the value of our diversity and our shared experiences."

For more information on study abroad opportunities, visit the Office of Global Education at www.csusm.edu/global.

"I really enjoy introducing others to Korean culture," explained presenter Hyeeun Jo, a Korean exchange student studying business at CSUSM. "I've noticed that most Americans aren't very familiar with Korean customs, food, or traditions. I like being able to expose other students to my culture and share the unique attributes of my country."