The global threat of COVID-19 has decidedly affected the plans of exchange students and full-time international students managed by the school.
According to the Ministry of Education’s 2019 statistics on the number of students in Ewha, 1,743 are registered as full-time international students. For exchange students, Ewha has sent over 674 students abroad and received 792 students in 2018. Therefore, these large number of students are being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
As of March 6, some Japanese universities have cancelled their exchange program altogether, leaving Japan-bound Ewha students with little option.
“As the semester starts in April in Japan, I did not sign up for courses at Ewha, or even moved out from my flat - it’s too late to apply for dormitories too,” said Yun sol, a senior in the Department of English Language and Literature previously destined for Nagoya University.
Yun and other students must now either enroll for a semester at Ewha, or find other opportunities such as internships.
Those exchange students coming to Ewha for the 2020 spring semester have also been confronted with drastic measures.
“As of Feb. 5, all Chinese exchange students planning to come to Ewha have either postponed or cancelled their programs,” said Cheon Mi-hyun, Managing Director of the International Exchange Affairs Team.
“Many other countries including the U.S., are cancelling their exchange programs following the elevation of travel ban levels,” she commented.
The Office of International Affairs (OIA) and the International Exchange Affairs Team has been in close communication with its partnered universities overseas and plans to postpone most programs for the coming fall semester.
The same dilemmas are also faced by Ewha students who were planning to go on exchange overseas this semester. In the case of Ewha students sent to China, all but one student have cancelled or postponed their exchange semester. Moreover, those students bound for Europe are also being surveyed for their willingness to either “continue, cancel or postpone” their exchange program.
Not all partnered universities, however, have cancelled their exchange program with Ewha this semester.
“My home university in the Netherlands - Fontys University, HRM and Psychology- said it should be relatively safe in Seoul as the virus is mostly serious in the southeast area of Korea,” said a Dutch student who is on exchange at Ewha this semester.
Full-time international students were no exception to this problem. As countries began entry restrictions from Korea, many flights have been cancelled to enter and exit the country. This led to returning students having difficulty finding flights back to Korea in time for the semester.
“As all airlines cancelled flights from Vietnam to Korea, I could not find a flight back until March 30,” said Luu Tran Thuy Tien, a freshman from Division of International Studies. “As the day I arrive is the first day of offline classes, I am worried I will be missing out on class materials.”
According to Tan Hooi Wern, a junior from Malaysia majoring in Korean Language and Literature, full-time Chinese students were advised by OIA to consider taking leave for this semester. If so, the students will have to redo their visa, repeating the application process again.
The school prepared a few measures in response to the difficulties faced by full-time international students. They announced that students coming from countries with confirmed cases will be excused for being absent in classes with proof that they visited those countries.
The International Student Affairs Team also prepared a route for arriving Ewha students coming from China, Hong Kong and Macau. There will be full assistance from arrival at the airport to the school dormitory, followed by a 14-day quarantine.