A total of 51 students, including those who went to Japan last fall semester and those who have planned to go this semester, faced difficulties in deciding either going to Japan during the first semester in April or altering their initial plans. The deadline for their final decision was March 25. Twenty-six students have requested to cancel the exchange student program in Japan, while 25 students decided to stay with their original plans.
Thirty Japanese universities to receive Ewha students this semester include Fukuoka University, Kyushu University, Waseda University, Kobe College, Meiji University and more. According to the Office of Global Affairs (OGA), none of the students planned to go to the northeastern region of Japan, the place of the most serious destruction. However, students going to other regions were still worried of the effect the natural disaster.
Shin Jung-ah (International Studies, 3), who planned to go to the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan on March 31, said that she will probably cancel her plans and take a temporary absence from Ewha this semester due to the increased level of radioactivity in Japan. Her parents were also against studying in a region closely located to the nuclear power plants. She also mentioned that she felt a lot of pressure to make a decision because students were not given much time to make up their minds.
“My education and aspirations depend heavily on this exchange student program, but now everything seems to have fallen apart,” Shin said. “One single mistake can have a huge impact on my future studies and career, and I am sure nobody wants their plans to go wrong.”
Sul Jung-ha (International Studies, 3) also planned to go to Aoyama Gakuin University, in Tokyo. “I was so excited for the exchange student program,” Sul said. “However, my so-called ‘definite’ plans are now rather ‘indefinite.’”
The OGA had an emergency meeting on March 17 with students who were to go to Japan as exchange students this semester and informed them of the situation of the universities in Japan and the position of Ewha. The school strongly advised students to stay rather than go to Japan because of possible radioactive effects. However, those who still wish to go will be accepted since it is students’ responsibility to make the final decision.
Students who want to take a temporary absence from school this semester will get a tuition refund if they send a notice of absence. Those who want to continue studying at Ewha this semester will be allowed to enroll in courses they wish to take. The OGA also announced that it will do its best to assist the students willing to go to Japan next semester.
“The unexpected disaster in Japan has frustrated many students’ plans to study abroad, but we hope that students stay in Korea since safety comes first,” said President Kim Sun-uk in a letter to the parents of the students who planned to go to Japan as exchange students this semester.