As confirmed cases of COVID-19 have shown a decreasing trend, the country eased the previous regulation of social distancing to “everyday life quarantine” starting from May 5.
The new regulations emphasize the importance of being cautious in daily life to prevent further spread of the virus. This has inevitably impacted university life, especially on how students interact with each other in student clubs.
Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a manual for “everyday life quarantine” on April 22. The main principles include being in self-quarantine for three to four days when feeling sick, maintaining a two-meter distance between individuals, washing hands for 30 seconds, sterilizing and ventilating rooms, and covering coughs by using sleeves. Also, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has released a public commercial listing five regulations, which has been aired via various media outlets since May 18.
This new preventive measure by the officials has changed the atmosphere of university life. In particular, university clubs have switched their activities online.
Ensemble, the school’s theatre club of the Department of French Language & Literature, has held practices and meetings through Zoom or Google Hangouts throughout the first semester. With the actors and staff members, they host virtual meetings every Monday afternoon.
Han Chae-ryeong, the representative of Ensemble, shared her opinion regarding the shortcomings of online meetings.
“As we are preparing for our musical, which is performed in French, it is difficult to practice the pronunciation of words compared to training offline,” Han said. “The inability to check one another’s register and to synchronize harmony makes it more inconvenient. It is unfortunate that we have only the second semester to get to know each other and practice together in person.”
Despite this challenge, Ensemble will hold the “Notre Dame de Paris” performance this year. Han considers that online activities are not a waste of time and by going through trial and error, they hope to put on a meaningful play.
Ewha Newsweek Club (ENC), which is the school’s English academic club, also holds meetings via Zoom, Skype, and Naver Café. When the New York Times article has been suggested in the chatroom, the designated team for the article uploads the resources, presentation videos and discussion topics. After the presentation, each group discusses the content through Skype.
In addition to this, ENC's activity involves a weekly column that is held autonomously, where students share their opinions freely in English after watching the article’s resources or videos. This activity is currently held via Zoom.
ENC created orientation presentations with their voices recorded, explaining the overall club activity to new members. Content such as ways to record voices in the presentation needed for the regular column meetings were included as well. After explaining the curriculum of the club, they held a vote on how many of the members wanted to continue the activity online for this semester.
Choi Han-bi, the head of ENC, expressed her thoughts on the club activities being done online.
“There are several shortcomings in that members are not able to fully expand their thoughts since we hear opinions online once a summary file is uploaded,” Choi said. “This hinders the effectiveness of discussing in person, which induces more insightful thinking.”
She also mentioned that online chatting during group discussion is not smoothly conducted due to the limitations of communicating through a monitor, where direct social communication is restricted.
“I hope we can successfully complete the club activity this semester conducted online,” Choi said. “I also hope we can have more opportunities to interact with one another once offline activities are allowed.”
Lee Young-bin, a sophomore from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, shared her thoughts on university life and classes conducted online.
“It is uncomfortable to participate in debate activities since they cover an important part of class,” Lee said. “There are no adequate online platforms to accommodate a large number of students and even though the debate may be held online, I believe limitations still exist due to the lack of genuine and in-depth communication.”