U.A.O, We are United as One
Special Feature: For future students in Korea It was the first day the snow fell from our room’s porch last 2013. The day we ourselves, called as U.A.O made our last stage performance. It was funny how it came up.
We are all foreigner students from a hidden university, called Geumgang University. Nobody would have heard of our university, but it was us who knew and came there, coming from all over of the world. We were all in our prime of our life, but all of us have burdens we were keeping and certain ideals that is very diverse from each other. However, as we spent more days together, forced to interact, live and learn together. Each day became a full month of experience. Our days in our Scholarship Program were actually numbered. We all know that at a certain point, on our graduation, our time together was coming to an end. But then as we all live in certain freedom and joy of being in Korea, We’ve all decided to showcase and introduce foreigners to the students of our small university. Our number can be greatly outnumbered by the number of the Korean students, we lived with. We became a different type of exchange students in Korea.
Most of the time, I hear exchange students that come here are mostly alone. The vastness of a Seoul-based university makes it hard for them to build a group of close trusted friends. They can make one, but as I talk to a friend, months after I graduated and worked part time in Seoul, she mentioned that all foreigners in the university are not even familiar with each other due to number; and unlike us, met only few Korean friends while studying. Maybe we were the lucky ones. We had a certain fire really different from those who studied from our university. We weren’t favored much in school by some of the Korean students, as our liberated culture really ignites when we are together. We blended in really, but Koreans nationalistic pride sometimes hinders it to become a more deep relationship. I never hesitated though, even if I was like a wild flower. Well, I followed norms, but I follow it my style. And with our voracious characteristics, the first performance of foreigners united happened. It was during spring. A mere joke of showing off Girls Generation’s dance to amaze our met Korean friends, turned to an excellent performance of Ice Cream by Hyuna, History by EXO and Gentleman by Psy. U.A.O, or “United as One”, was a symbolization of unity amongst us, struggling to work our way on our TOPIK scores, Korean skills and class performance. Like a world united dance showdown, of people from Asia to Europe. The name, quiet an interesting beginning, as I remember how it turned out to be U.A.O from that blank space in the registration form. What’s more interesting was that none of us aren’t dancers, maybe two are professionals but the rest were simple people with bodies needed for sufficient training. I remember how our dance practices looked fun but not what they ought to be. And as foreign students in a secluded school, we found a hobby amongst ourselves.
On the night of the first performance. U.A.O took the stage. Nobody would have thought we were anything close to actually world-class. World-class in a sense, that it’s United Nations sort of representation, but we nailed an 8-minute-performance perfectly synchronized and hyped to a tee. Thus we were crowned the GGU Kings, earning 500000won and a title. This moment in our lives was as sweet as ice cream and as sassy as gentleman. We can be called heroes for we changed the image of exchange students in Korea. As foreigners, it’s really hard to make a mark in any university, unless you protest or shout out your ethnicity. But we changed all that and provided vision amongst ourselves. We were asking for global partnership among Korean students and that’s what we got so far, as we saw how they have appreciated our existence in their school. Truth to be told, it was like a glorious victory.
However on the very same year of our first performance, we had our last as well. With the few who have stayed for the semester, representing our graduated peers, we ignited the stage, the same as we did before. Thus, marked the end of U.A.O in our lives, but a great memory to ponder as well. We just wanted to relay the fact that we as foreign students in a foreign land, we must not be alone and instead stand together, while not being contempt with just fellow countrymen. But rather synergize and mingle to the best that anyone can. A great tip for those who want to study in Korea, is not to be enamored by the fact that you will be in Korea but to be open the possibilities that Korea can give. Fact: the writer was one of the member of U.A.O and had happily experienced studying in Korea through a scholarship