OSWEGO — They came to SUNY Oswego for the lake, the language and a learning experience that will earn them internships and jobs. Forty-four South Korean students arrived on campus in January ready to spend as many as three years at Oswego and as much time getting to know the campus and culture as possible.
The experience promises to contrast considerably from the urban lifestyle at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, where they started their college careers by preparing to continue abroad.
“It’s very big here,” said Hunmin Jung, a sophomore studying accounting. “We can enjoy nature and go anywhere . . . here you can enjoy the campus life.”
Several students noted the lakeside location of Oswego and its relative proximity to New York City and Canada as draws to transferring here.
SUNY’s reputation for academics is also important, students said, because they plan to earn college degrees here.
“Oswego has a good program in accounting, better than in Korea, I think,” said Jung, who would like to become a CPA. Majors of the Hankuk students vary, though, from business administration to political science to English literature.
Sophomore Na Kyung Kwon said she was eager to get started on her graphic design degree at Oswego, while junior Yungmin Chung looked forward to watching hockey and getting involved in a student organization.
“I want to improve my speaking and writing skills,” senior Haengwoo Cho said, sharing his goal with several others taking part in the program. Almost equally universal: the desire to network and make friends stateside.
Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs, a cross-campus committee and the college’s new Institute for Global Engagement have worked with Korean faculty and students to make sure the college is ready in terms of welcome, housing, curriculum, professional development and campus culture.
With the arrival of the Korean students this semester, Oswego’s international student population topped 200 for the first time.
“We are positioned to welcome a large cohort of international students, and in so doing to grow the profile of international students on this campus,” said Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs. “I feel very confident of where SUNY Oswego is in terms of welcoming international students. We have seen tremendous campus buy-in.”
McKeown and others pointed to numerous benefits of a growing population of students from other countries: amplifying intercultural awareness in an era of globalization; boosting interest among Americans to study, teach or do research abroad; establishing relationships with students from new global economic powerhouses; and presenting the opportunity for lifelong friendships.