by Mikaleh Offerman, News Editor
The country is new; the language is different; the culture is strange. Students come to OBU from all around the world, and many international students, although comfortable in their home culture, find it difficult to adjust to life in America.
Seong Min Moon, “Moonie” to his friends, is a freshman international student who hails from South Korea, but has found a home at OBU. He first came to OBU for Night On the Hill.
“Boy, it was fun,” Moon said. “I really loved the atmosphere that I felt at OBU. OBU is special.”
He participates in Bison Glee Club, Enactus, You Can’t Take it with You, the theater department’s fall play, and he’s the first international student on record to be in SGA.
“I love people,” Moon said, explaining why he chose to run for freshmen class senator. “I love helping people, I love being involved and I love knowing what’s going on.”
Moon first came to America when he was in eighth grade through an exchange program.
“I had the choice to go to either Kansas or Texas, and the week before I had to make my decision, I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” Moon said. “I didn’t understand much English, and I thought Texas was full of cowboys, but then I saw that movie and it was all white masks and chainsaws and I said, I’m not goin’ to Texas. I’m goin’ to Kansas.”
One major difference for Moon was the culture of education, which pushed him to become more involved.
“For the first two years [in America], I knew very little English,” Moon said. “It was really hard and I didn’t want to embarrass myself or have people think I was dumb. I can speak Korean – for sure. But in America I didn’t know a thing. I thought people would laugh at me.”
Because of this, Moon spent most of his time studying alone in his room.
“In Korea, you don’t really challenge people,” Moon said. “You just listen to what they say. You don’t ask questions as often. School is basically you sit down, take good notes, study and then take the test. But in America it’s much different. You have to ask the teacher what you want to know. So, I learned my sophomore year [of high school] that I needed to be outgoing.”
Many international students struggle with the same fears, which is why few international students are involved in campus wide organizations like SGA.
“International students are already having a hard time catching up, speaking English, having class in English and talking every day in English,” Moon said. “The first two years learning culture is hard. It’s hard to analyze what you’re doing and who you’re even talking to. Most of the time, people here don’t realize that we don’t know it. We just play it most of the time. But once we get it then we can be more involved.”
By the time Moon came to OBU, he had been in America for about four years, so SGA was a good opportunity for him to branch out. Moon is grateful for the support he has received at OBU, and he would encourage international students to find ways to plug into campus.
“After two years, most think it’s too late, but I would say it’s not too late,” Moon said. “Life’s short. Why not do it?”