Exchange at Yonsei Offers Many Advantages
for Civil Engineering Graduate Student
Pol Leyder knew l i t t l e about Korea before arriving at Yonsei as an exchange student. However, he was determined to step out of his comfort zone and experience life on a different continent. One of his fondest memories is of studying abroad in Paris as an undergraduate, so Pol, now a graduate student in Civil Engineering, left Germany, where he studies, to come to Seoul. Following a short visit to China two years ago, he developed a fascination with Asian cultures; and, as an engineering student, he was attracted to Korea’s advanced information and communication technology and the success of major conglomerates like Samsung, LG, and Kia.
Pol’s choice of Yonsei came about through a conversation he had with a former Yonsei student at Cambridge University, where he went for an English-language program. “She told me about how exciting the Yon-Ko Sports Festival are and how fun university life is at Yonsei,” he recalled. Because of her glowing account, Pol said, “Yonsei was the only Korean university I wanted to go to.”
Having finished his civil engineering coursework at Aachen University, Pol took a variety of courses, including one on international business, in which he learned about Korea’s economy, and another in Korean history. The latter course, he explained, really helped deepen his understanding of his new “home country in Asia,” where he feels very “comfortable.” Pol placed a strong emphasis on experiencing Korean life on and off the Yonsei campus. In particular, he enjoyed trips to Busan, Nami Island, and Sokcho, where he climbed to the summit of Seorak Mountain. Through these experiences, he was surprised to learn that his “inadequate” Korean language skills do not “pose an obstacle to enjoying everyday life in Korea.”
When asked what he most enjoyed about his semester at Yonsei, he highlighted the Yon-Ko Sports Festival, but also campus life and the university system. “In Europe,” he said, “it’s rare to find all the departments being located on a single campus. Maybe that is why the bonding among Yonsei students is so strong. The students cheering for Yonsei and other group activities, like identifying with the school and department by wearing t-shirts and jackets with the names printed on them, are something that you would never find in European universities.”
Regarding his plans after graduating, Pol intends to gain work experience as an intern before moving onto a full-time job. In fact, he is keen on the idea of securing an internship in a Korean company, and he specifically mentioned the Samsung Engineering and Construction Group, which was one of the companies that constructed the Incheon Bridge. He is hoping that with his strong language skills—he speaks Luxembourgish, French, German, Spanish, English, along with some Korean—and his civil engineering training in Germany, he will be attractive to Korean construction companies with overseas projects.