A South Korean Student on Studying in Russia

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A young researcher from the Republic of Korea, who is studying at St. Petersburg Mining University, got interested in Russia while he was still in school.

As Donghee Lee, now a PhD student at St. Petersburg Mining University, recalls, “My initial desire was to travel. Two years after graduation, I arrived in Moscow, just as an ordinary tourist, and then went to St. Petersburg. And here I came to realize I would rather stay for longer and start learning Russian.”

Upon return home, Donghee decided he did not want to study at a local university. Despite that he tried to receive a quota for tuition-free education, he did not manage to do so. Therefore he had to pay for his studies both when earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. The student’s lucky day came in six years later when he won a competition organized by Rossotrudnichestvo and pursued free PhD studies.

As the South Korean student says, the first years of living in Russia were the hardest. Social relations are heavily regulated in his home country, and whatever the teacher has to say is expected not to be questioned. Unsurprisingly Donghee was shocked to see Russian students engaged in loud discussions with teachers or even arguing with them.

“Soon, I noticed another difference between Korean and Russian educational systems. In Russia, parents do not overburden their children, in contrast to Korea, with the vast majority of school students in the country getting tired of learning long before they graduate. As a result, they lose any interest in science. All they do is memorize the material. I have seen Koreans participating in lectures and conferences. Yes, they can make amazing presentations, but they have no creativity, they often lack a deep understanding of the problem,” sums the PhD student.

Talking about career prospects, Donghee Lee notes he has been already offered a job twice. Both times he had to turn down the offers, for he had placed a higher priority to the defense of PhD thesis and earning an academic degree.

“I would honestly prefer to stay here, at the Mining University, become a professor, teach students, conduct research. Thus, scientific work is what I would want to do the most. Regardless, if I do not find a way to stay at the university after completing PhD studies, this is certainly not the end. I guess I will apply for a job in one of the Korean research centers,” shares his plans Donghee.

“Career has become a new religion in South Korea. People miss those times when there was more humanity, warm-heartedness, real emotions. I think it is something I can find for me here, in Russia,” said the South Korean student.