Selene Calje sure stands out as an international student in South Korea.
Hailing from the Netherlands, the 22-year-old is currently studying political science and diplomacy at Chungnam National University in Daejeon.
She is a global citizen of many interests and capabilities. For example, this polyglot speaks Dutch, English, Korean, French and German, and is currently learning Russian.
Read on for a glimpse into her unique experience as an international student in South Korea.
Tell us about yourself. Why did you choose to study abroad?
I lived in Australia for two years and graduated high school there. When my family and I moved to Australia, it opened a lot of doors for me. I wanted to see more of the world; explore the culture and meet locals. So after graduating high school, I decided I wanted to study in another country.
About myself — I have a big passion for horse riding and I have been riding frequently since I was seven years old. Also, I have done swimming and sports like Taekwondo.
Besides that, I love to do modelling. I have been modelling since I was very young but recently I got permission here in Korea and now I can do modelling jobs in Korea as well.
Additionally, I have been the student ambassador for my university from fall 2019 to summer 2020. I also love to travel a lot and I love to see more of the world.
Why did you choose to study in Daejeon? What do you like most about studying here?
I had this interest in Asian culture from a young age. However, at that time I didn’t know much about Korea. When I lived in Australia, I made a lot of Korean friends and they introduced me to Korean culture and food.
Since I moved here, I have grown to like it more and more than when I first arrived. The people are so kind and I feel almost always welcome wherever I go. I really like it here.
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What are you studying and why?
I am studying political science and diplomacy. I am very interested in other cultures and I like to share my culture with other people and vice versa. That is why I want to work in the diplomatic field so I thought this programme would be beneficial for my future.
Tell us about your most memorable time at Chungnam National University.
My favourite memory is being appointed as a student ambassador for my university. I met such amazing people and I got to experience things that I had never done before.
As a student ambassador, I got to see behind-the-scenes activities for big events such as graduation ceremonies. I wouldn’t have been able to experience as a regular student. Plus, all the other ambassadors are so kind; I made a lot of new friends there and it was honestly a very exciting time.
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What are your top recommendations or advice to others who are planning to study abroad in South Korea?
I would advise you to get familiar with the language before you come here! Not many people can speak English that well so it might be difficult to find your way around if you do not know the basics. In cities other than Seoul, the universities usually do not provide too many courses in English so please keep that in mind when you apply.
Further, you may find yourself in uncomfortable situations because of cultural differences so I would also recommend reading about cultural practices before you go.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to live and work in South Korea. I really want to find a job here but I will see what the future brings me.
I would like to work in the Dutch embassy but I would also like to pursue my modelling career more or work in the horse business.