Seoul is an Engaging Classroom for Business Students
Jul. 15, 2010
After traveling almost 7,000 miles from Texas to South Korea, the School of Management undergraduates spending the spring semester at Dongguk University could point out plenty of differences between the university they were visiting and the one they had left behind.
For one, Dongguk’s spacious campus, in the heart of Seoul, sits on the side of a steep hill overlooking the city of about 10 million people. “This provides for breath-taking views of the city at night,” said Max Alcala, a business administration senior. “It also means a good workout each time you need to go to campus.”
And the food they ate – which came with names like bimbimbap, kimbab and kimchi – could be spicy, pickled or live, as it was in the lobster tanks at restaurants near campus.
The experience was made possible by an agreement that Dr. Hasan Pirkul, dean and Caruth Chair of Management at UT Dallas School of Management, struck with Dongguk officials to expand opportunities for School of Management students to study overseas.
Out-of-pocket costs were limited to airfare to and from Seoul and day-to-day expenses. Everything else – housing and tuition for 12 hours at Dongguk University, which will transfer to their UT Dallas transcripts – was covered by scholarships from the two participating universities. In exchange, the students had to teach 10 hours of English classes to Dongguk students each week. The UT Dallas students stayed in Seoul until the term ended in June.
Dr. Habte Woldu, head of international studies at School of Management, said the relationship with Dongguk serves many purposes, including exposing students to different cultures and attracting top students to UT Dallas.
Dongguk University is one of the oldest universities in South Korea and one of the few Buddhist-affiliated universities in the world. Alcala said the university “is heavily influenced by Buddhist decorations, and (this) creates a sense of openness and peace. The two main symbols of DU are the lotus flower and the elephant, both directly tied to the Buddhist Studies Center that DU houses.”
The classes at Dongguk kept the UT Dallas students busy. “They are different from UT Dallas classes in that they are very strict here about assigned seats and punctuality,” said Farah Ellenbogen, a business administration senior. “If you are 30 seconds late, no matter the excuse, you are counted absent from class.”
“There is much more homework assigned, as well as reading and quizzes,” said business administration junior Agata Smieciuszewski. “They are constantly testing in all the subjects.”
Daniel Peng, a business administration junior, was surprised by “the amount of technology everywhere. There is literally a television everywhere – bathrooms, subways, elevators, you name it.”
“Seoul is great,” Smieciuszewski said. “It’s gigantic and beautiful, with a million things to do around every corner. I don’t think I could ever get bored there.”