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Currency Crisis and Korean Students in the US
'We want to concentrate on our studies,' says one Indiana University-Bloomington student
Yoon Jeong Kim (romance23)     Print Article 
Published 2008-10-29 18:34 (KST)   
I am a Korean foreign student at Indiana University-Bloomington. Indiana University is one of the most popular universities with Korean students who want to study in the US. For this reason, there are about 1,000 Korean students. These days, the biggest issue among Korean students is the exchange rate between Korean won and the US dollar. I have seen many students checking the exchange rate via the Internet on a daily basis.

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Most Korean international students received all their living expenses and tuition from their families in Korea and to receive money, they have to exchange won for dollars. In this way, the exchange rate is closely connected with life of Korean students studying in the US. However, there has been a wild fluctuation in the US dollar rate over the last few months. In particular, the dollar has risen from 936.90 won (Jan. 2, 2008) to 1,425.00 won (Oct. 28, 2008). Considering that the range of this fluctuation over the last 2 years was 50 won, the current situation can be dubbed "abnormal" or "a second of currency crisis."

The closer the university registration period gets, the deeper the students' anxiety is. Indeed, international students' tuition is three times more expensive than in-state students; the 2008-2009 tuition is set $ 11,952.95 per semester. If I exchange Korean won at 936.90, which was the rate in the beginning of this year, I only need 11,198,719 won, but if I apply the current exchange rate, then I need to pay 17,032,945 won -- for a difference of 5,834,235 won, about $5,000. This is only for one semester's tuition. If I add living costs, the gap is even larger.

For this reason, many Korean students are trying to save money in various ways. First of all, we are implementing severe shopping budgets. We try to reduce the number of times we eat in restaurants. Some students have abandoned plans to visit Korea during the winter vacation. In worst case scenarios, students temporarily leave school or give up studying in the US. Even if these numbers are still currently small, there are many potential foreign students -- especially freshmen or language program students -- who may be considering abandoning their overseas studies.

Up until now they may have intended to study abroad, planning many things for the future. And they might have already invested a great deal of time and money. The saddest thing of all is that their desire to study is made impossible because of financial problems, rather than any fault of their own. Before this current currency crisis, I never worried about expenses or the exchange rate. However, now the primary concern of Korean students like me is monetary.

We are students. We want to concentrate on our studies. That is why we hope for a stabilization of the exchange rate.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Yoon Jeong Kim

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