As the Ministry of Health and Welfare urged the minimization of overseas travel on Feb 27, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) made changes to the exchange program in the 2020 spring semester. Students who were to spend the first semester or a year abroad had to rearrange their schedules abruptly.
Lee Hae-in, a junior in the Department of English Language and Literature, went to Germany on March 9 as was admitted to an exchange program in Berlin. However, Lee had to move back to Korea on March 16 due to school’s warning on COVID-19 and threats of racism.
After Lee returned to Ewha, she faced another problem regarding course registration.
“Although the registration period had already passed, the school didn’t provide us with any measures. Students had to raise their voices, and the school then allowed us to choose up to two courses,” Lee stated.
However, Lee had to fill up the remaining credits by sending emails to professors on her own.
“I was lucky enough to get the courses that I wanted, but some professors didn’t allow additional students in their courses, so there were many students who had excess credits left this semester.”
The Ewha Language Center (ELC) was troubled with the pandemic as well. ELC manages Korean Language Program (KLP) for international students, which lasts for two weeks for short-term programs and 10 weeks for intensive programs.
Adapting to cyber learning
However, ELC had to cancel the entire short-term programs and postpone the intensive programs from March 13 to 27 because of the virus.
Arisa Yuu, a student from Fukuoka Women’s University, was planning to visit Ewha for a short-term KLP this April, but was not able to come due to the cancellation of the program.
“It would be a lie to say I am not disappointed,” Yuu said. “But I think the ELC could have given the notice earlier. They announced the cancellation of the short-term program on March 20, even though the program was scheduled from April 2.”
International students who came to Ewha for exchange were experiencing similar problems as well. OIA conducted an online meeting in order to identify the exact situations that international exchange students are in.
“I was really excited about my transfer to Ewha because I have heard so much about experiences at Ewha from my friends,” one of the students anonymously replied. “It is a sad thing because I wanted to study on the school campus with my friends. But I believe online lectures are freer in terms of time and space.”
Another exchange student anonymously added her opinion.
“It is disappointing because one of the biggest reasons I chose Ewha for exchange was because of its campus,” she stated. “But I believe the well-structured online lecture system is a unique feature of Korea. Many universities, including mine, couldn’t offer online lectures until late April.”
She further commented that although the situation is frustrating, she thinks taking online classes at Ewha could be thought of as a meaningful exchange experience.