Though Ewha has been certified for the IEQAS, it is evident that there is room for improvement as the international students are still experiencing difficulties in pursuing a satisfactory college life.
When coming into conversation with international students, a common question I ask is whether they experience any inconveniences or trouble in their studies or life in general. Of the range of answers that come back, the most recurrent response is “trouble with following the course.” Having to sit through a class taught in Korean, which is not their mother language, is seemingly the largest burden that rests upon international students.
It is not the language itself that troubles them, but rather the educational setting. It is obvious that international students come to Korea to learn Korean; thus their level of fluency in this language is higher than most can expect. However, ordinary speech and the words professors use can only be different – this is where the students bump into their problem. The academic terminology and the fast paced lectures leave the students blankly staring at the professor.
In an effort to catch up on the course, students spend a significant amount of time preparing and reviewing the day’s lecture. According to a research published in 2012 by the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI), 29 percent of the international students spend an average of five to 10 hours for preparing and reviewing course material. Contrary to the majority’s belief that international students do not put their fullest effort, it is said that 28.6 percent of students spend more than 20 hours in finishing one assignment.
Another frequently arising topic when talking with international students is employment after graduation. Though many students seek to return to their own country upon graduation, there is still a large portion that wants to stay in Korea.
In the report by the KEDI, 24.1 percent of international students studying in the Seoul and Gyeonggi province wished to return to their country for employment while 21.8 percent showed interest in residing in Korea for employment.
However, the hair-tearing agony comes as there are not adaquate programs nor systems that assist international students’ employment in Korea. International students in their third and fourth years often encounter this problem; they want to stay in Korea, but they need to be hired in order to do so. However, the process of finding a work place that is looking for international personnel, applying and submitting necessary documents and preparing for an interview are all arduous tasks for them. A little assistance would ease them from their stress. As an acquaintance of mine once said, “If I cannot find a job in Korea within a year after graduation, the only option left for me is to go back home.”
There are many more aspects within the life of international students that ask for assistance, such as better counseling programs, more work opportunities within campus, and simply more polite interest.
According to Academy Information, a Web site organized by the government that publicly provides official statistics on universities, Ewha was ranked 11th in the number of international students with 1,072. For these international students who have only the school to rely on in this foreign country, it is necessary for Ewha to listen to their voices.