Geumgang University: My Bridge to Education
Education is all a matter of building bridges. True in its great sense is this quote by Ralph Ellison. Education is worthless unless it has brought you to a much larger place. It bridges you to more chances than gains. And exclusively this institution found nowhere have become my bridge. Found on the foot of the Gyeryong Mountain surrounded by lowlands of farm fields and livestock is a Buddhist-oriented university named Geumgang University. I guess nobody has heard of this university unless you really meet a student who came from here. When I applied for its Korean Language Program Scholarship last year, I told my Hagwon students that I am now finally be able to study in Korea. Their first assumptions where the highly recognized universities in Seoul. But then I blurted out the name “Geumgang”, they all began to wonder if such a university even exists.
Back then, my joy was only because I found a way to come to Korea and wherever Geumgang is, it’s going to be a great place. Well, honestly my eyes wondered how modern the buildings where when I first arrived. I even wondered how such structure became out of picture through the whole landscape. The ugly fact though is that it is truly outside of civilization. If you are familiar of the movie, “The Village”, we basically live like that. The denseness of the whole place makes you familiar of the whole school’s population that until this day, in our own circle we are familiar of each other’s faces, foreigner or not.
But why such benevolent introduction for a secluded university like this? If you are very much familiar of British boarding schools, both are very same; secluded but regarded with the best education. Geumgang University found amongst the shadows of a mountain is blessed with the highest GPA rate nationwide. According to a survey done by Newsis, the school ranks first as one of the nation’s elite schools. Surprisingly, it surpassed known schools like the Seoul University, which ranked 6th. The school is actually true to its nature as a competing elite school. Founded in 2004, by Buddhist monks of the Guinsa temple, the school holds 6 types of departments holding only of the best majors, mainly concentrating on social sciences, welfare and Buddhism. The school only accepts students with high KSAT scores. Therefore all students are provided with a scholarship, and a best environment to study. There aren’t any discrimination in faith, as it accepts students from any religious faith, but students are forced to work and study more to maintain such scholarship.
The school at present, though already with mass modern structures, still continues to develop other facilities in behalf of its students. A main building that holds all the regular classes, a modern library that provides students a solemn environment to study, a newly built soccer field, a basketball and volleyball court and three dormitories that houses all its students; it is almost complete despite the recent start in 2004. With the narrowed population, it makes everyone mingle and talk with everybody.
Apparently the school offers a Korean Language Program, administered by its language center to foreigners of every walk of life. Other than the exchange program it does with countries Japan, China and Taiwan, it offers a scholarship program that foreigners can apply and try. It goes for 15-weeks of exclusive Korean training, using the Sejong University Books. The foreigner students are provided free tuition, exclusive of housing and other necessities. Besides the fact that you still have to pay, other than the other universities that offer the same program and scholarship, the housing fees are cheaper and the other fees are negotiable and affordable. Food is by student price and considered healthy and balanced than having a 1000 won Kimbap every day.
The reason I take much pride to have studied in this humble university is because of the fact that it helped me learn Korean for only three months of stay. Though technically, I took three semesters to become truly comprehensive with the language, in only a span of a month, was I able to make a real simple Korean conversation starting from just a neophyte. The rural vicinity, of course won’t help you talk English all the time since the older generation tends to speak more Korean than English. Even though there are the presence of English-speaking foreign friends, the Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese students who barely speak English makes you work out on your Korean to just communicate, and lastly, there is no easy environment here in Korea to gain Korean friends as here in Geumgang university. The small number of students living together in a dormitory makes it easier for everyone to make friends. Other than having a Korean roommate, which in the end can become your bestfriend. The students are very much well-mannered and friendly that they are the ones who approach you.
Also, one special aspect of this program is their sleek Partnership Programs. It provides financial help to the scholar-foreign students and at the same time the language exchanges provide camaraderie among the Korean and Foreign students altogether. I myself, gained a lot of friends through this program other than the whole foreigner group I have been with. Also the teachers, addresses everyone’s needs and ability to improve as only 20 or less students can be found among the three levels of class namely, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
In my almost one year of stay in the university, everyone became so attached and close to me like a family that parting was really difficult. From the foreign friends I’ve gained up to the Korean staffs who became familiar with my mischiefs, the school became my home in Korea.
Well enough, my bridge to further success truly started in this place, and without a doubt have turned me to a much better person. Other than a once in a lifetime chance of learning Korea did I also have a chance to learn different cultures from all around the world.
If you are very much interested to learn Korean in another set of environment other than Seoul, why not try it here. Check out the details here!