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A conversation with international student Spencer Waters


Daily Busan interviewed Spencer Waters, an international student at Busan National University and a member of the Busan Foreign Residents Representatives. He spoke about his life in Busan and shared his thoughts about immigration

Q. Please introduce yourself.

My name is Spencer Waters. I'm from the United States, but I've lived in Korea for seven years. I am a student at PNU and a part-time worker in a taco shop. I also try to do a lot of stuff within the city as a Busan Foreign Residents representative.

I’m also working on earning points to get an F-visa. The Korean government offers a Korean immigrant integration program for immigrants to learn the Korean language and culture. If you complete the program, you get a big bonus to your score towards the visa. I'm taking those classes to improve my Korean ability and live in Busan longer. Then, when I have an F-visa, I can maybe create my own company or something like that. 

Q. What do you study at PNU?

My major is International & Area Studies. It’s like East Asia studies, learning about the international interactions between Korea, Japan, North Korea, Russia and China. But I really focus on immigration. I'm learning more and more because, these days, Busan is searching for more economic migrants to help support the city as younger people are leaving to go to Seoul or other countries. Their labor force is becoming smaller and smaller, as you probably see on the news. 

Q. What do you think Busan should do to attract more immigrants? 

To attract more immigrants, the main thing that Busan can do is to promote what it has available, like jobs. That's one big thing because there are lots of jobs available. One of the big things that I know Busan cares about is they want to create a pipeline for students to live in Busan. And they really love having foreign students go to their universities. They love having foreign students. 

But the challenge is that there's a mismatch between the universities: The majority of the students that go, their majors don't match the industries in Busan. So, there's like a mismatch. There's a really good foreign student population in Busan—very strong, very vibrant. However, when they graduate, the job opportunities and the job market are different than what their majors are for. So, there's a big mismatch between them.

Q. What do you think of Busan’s English Friendly City policy?

I think it is a good starting place. To give it good feedback, you have to look back to see where it came from. Busan before was open with lots of trade. They've done lots and lots of trade throughout their history. Busan was even the main place after the Korean War for people to come and reestablish themselves. So, they've always been a welcoming city and a welcoming place for outsiders. And so, they have this need to want to continue to do that. But in the global age, English is the dominant work. 

Q. What are the good parts of living in Busan? 

I think you've heard this many times, transportation is definitely a good one.

And as you said, the English Friendly City policy has made it apparent that they want foreigners to live here. There's an opportunity to interact with the local culture. 

Q. Busan is becoming more global than in the past. Do you have any ideas on how to make Busan more global? 

Busan needs to adapt to global ideas to become more global. If they only look internally and only look to themselves to create it, it probably won't be as successful unless they incorporate foreigners into their thought process and decision-making. So, to become more global, you need to bring in global ideas. 

<Today's Vocabulary - 오늘의 단어>

resident: 주민  representative: 대표 immigration: 이민 earn: 얻다 integration: 통합 migrant: 이민자 labor force: 노동력 mismatch: 부조화 population: 인구 dominant: 지배적인 apparent:분명한 interact: 상호작용 하다 incorporate: 포함하다 decision-making: 의사결정

Editor: Song Soomi

Copy Editors: Kim Miyoung, Anton J. Mapoy