Ewha Womans University makes various efforts not only to draw in competent students from all over the world but also help them adjust well to Korea and its campus life. There are both official and unofficial programs provided by Ewha that support the settlement of international and foreign exchange students such as EKLES, Ewha PEACE Buddy and international student peer mentoring. In this issue, the Ewha Voice will introduce the three programs and share student opinions and suggestions about such programs.
Among many programs in Ewha that are provided to support foreign exchange students, Ewha PEACE (Professional Ewhaians at Cultural Exchange) Buddy is essential in helping those students fit in at Ewha. The program is operated by the Office of International Affairs (OIA).
“Ewha PEACE Buddy aims to become true friends with foreign exchange students while helping them adapt to the new culture and life in Korea one on one,” said Kim Soo-jin (English, 3), the vice president of Ewha PEACE Buddy. “Students who participate in the Ewha PEACE Buddy have a sense of responsibility for leading a cultural mission between Korea and the world.”
Usually, the very first help Ewha PEACE Buddy provides is opening a bank account and getting a cellular phone. This help is necessary since foreign exchange students are not familiar with such systems in Korea.
Other than the official events, getting together is up to the “buddies.” They not only participate in the official programs such as campus tour and orientation of school affairs, but also in field trips and parties to socialize better.
“In my case, I wanted to introduce good restaurants around school and tell my buddies how to make use of school facilities,” said Kim Geun-ryeong (Korean, 3), who participated in the program last semester. “I also visited palaces, festivals and tourist attractions with foreign exchange students so that they could learn more about the Korean culture.”
Some international students say they experienced something that can never be gained from mere tourism.
“The most memorable moment for me is the time that I made kimchi with one of my buddies’ families,” said Lin Ka Ki (Chinese university of Hong Kong, 4), who was a member of PEACE Buddy in the fall semester of 2013. “That was the first time that I felt jeong, which means affection in Korean, as I made kimchi with the family. I also enjoyed digging out potatoes, drinking makgeolli, Korean rice drink and making Korean rice cake. All these memories made my life in Korea unique and unforgettable.
Lin believes that she became a confident and energetic foreign student thanks to PEACE Buddy instead of becoming a lonely outsider.
Meanwhile, there were times when things did not turn out the way the Ewha PEACE Buddy expected while they tried to give foreign exchange students memorable experiences.
“Once I went cycling to the Han river at the beginning of last fall semester,” Kim Geun-ryeong said. “When we finished cycling, we realized that one of the foreign exchange students disappeared. Since he did not have his phone or identification card with him, we were so worried.” So they decided to ask the police to make an announcement to find the student.
“Fortunately, he heard the announcement and we went back to school together. We burst in tears to the relief of finding our friend. I will never forget this memory.”
Each semester, approximately 50 to 60 Ewha students become buddies for foreign exchange students. The number of foreign exchange students who come to Ewha varies every semester from 200 at minimum and 500 at best.
“I had a buddy from Austria who became a buddy for a Korean student who came as an exchange student to her university in Austria,” Kim Soo-jin said. “The program remains as precious memories for me.”