The Yonsei School of Business has launched its first undergraduate dual degree program through an agreement signed March 3, 2016, with the ESSEC Business School in France. The two schools recently exchanged students with each other for the first time since signing the agreement. We talked with Alexandre Darbellay and Katherin Thouvenin, the two French students who came from ESSEC to YSB, and with Sang Heun Lee, a YSB student who went to ESSEC.
Q> Tell me about your life at YSB and in Korea
Alexandre: I think the classes are interesting, and I feel like all the professors are experts in their fields. I can’t describe the details of the differences, but there are some differences in the way that the professors in France and Korea give lectures.
Q> What do you want to achieve during your stay here in Korea?
Katherin: I’d like to learn the language as well as the culture, such as the rules of manners and courtesy. I have studied seven foreign languages so far because I personally like to learn new languages. By learning Korean, I would like to make many friends here.
Q> What is the strength of the dual degree program?
Sang Heun Lee: The dual degree program at ESSEC includes two semesters and six months of an internship program. During the two semesters, we need to take 30 credits and take required classes in French and Business. Additionally, we must find an internship opportunity through discussion with a staff member of the school. And we must even write a thesis paper similar to a graduation thesis. So, this program can be a huge challenge for those without any experience of living abroad. The students participating this program tend to search, discover, and solve the questions all by themselves. But at the same time, we develop ourselves by adapting into a new environment. By taking classes together with students from various fields of work experience and national backgrounds, we tend to be able to observe problems from new perspectives and find different outlooks on life. One of the biggest merits of this dual degree program is that you can earn two degrees from two different schools at the same time. This semester, there are 35 students registered for this program. These students share their experiences of going through differences in different colleges, among others.
[ Sang Heun Lee (right) ]
Q> Why did you choose the dual degree program of YSB?
Alexandre: It is true that the students at ESSEC are interested in America. I also became fond of the Asian region because I lived in Singapore for seven years. While I was looking for another Asian country other than Singapore, Korea came into my mind. I also really liked the Korean culture that I experienced during my stay in Seoul three years ago. Plus, because I don’t think that we are able to extensively understand the country by staying for only a semester as an exchange student, I found that this dual degree program, which enables me to stay here for a longer period, appealing. I also thought that I will have a better chance to understand Korea by traveling to other regions besides Seoul, for example Busan. I am even thinking of getting a job or internship opportunity here in Korea.
Q> Tell me about the differences between ESSEC and YSB. What is so special about YSB?
Katherin: The biggest difference between two schools is that in ESSEC, there are only students majoring in business, but at YSB, there are various students of different major. Plus, because Yonsei was established based on the Christian religion, it has a distinct feature of requiring students to take classes such as chapel and understanding Christianity. Moreover, there many club activities about many different topics such as sports and music. Because ESSEC only has a limited number of students, there are not as many club activities as there are at Yonsei.
Q> What is the most memorable experience that you had in ESSEC?
Sang Heun Lee: French culture can be formal and relaxing at the same time. It is important to express one’s opinion clearly, regardless of how others see oneself. I was very impressed to see classes with relaxed atmospheres without pressure. Only 30% of the students are of French nationality, and the international students do not get pressured by class and assignments. They tend to enjoy life and maintain easy-going attitudes toward their school work. This does not necessarily yield optimal outcomes, but gives birth to new, fresh ideas. Students here tend to take simple steps in the beginning and tend to actively reflect feedback to improve.