In the case of exchange students, the International Education Institute (IEI), provides most of what they need to make life at Ewha possible. Shin Eun-hwa, of the IEI says, "We are responsible for the needs of exchange students from the minute they are accepted to the moment they leave. We assign each student with a PEACE (Professional Ewhaians At Cultural Exchange) "buddy," who helps with airport pickups, registration, and finding accommodation." The IEI also holds an orientation for the students at the beginning of the year to introduce life in Korea and Ewha.
Axel Kirch, visiting for one semester from the University of Bonn, Germany, tells of his experience here. "I previously studied in China, and decided to come to Korea because my major in translation also requires Korean. Being in an exchange program, I didn't have to pay extra tuition and that's why I chose Ewha." Kirch made friends with other foreign students through Orientation and adjusted in a short time. "My Chinese experience made it easier to settle down here, and the IEI made sure adjusting was not a problem. I was even assigned a "buddy," though I didn't request one - I was a little surprised, Kirch adds.
Kirch's day starts from 8:30 a.m. at the Institute of Language Education (ILE) where he takes mandatory Korean classes until 12:15 a.m. The IEI assisted in his course selection as well as in finding him accommodation. "I originally took four other courses besides Korean, but the IEI warned me that it would be too much they were right! I ended up dropping two. They also offered a homestay when the dorms were full, even though I turned it down for a better option."
One thing students like Kirch share with longer-term visitors, the international students regularly enrolled at Ewha, is language study. Members of both groups are required to take Korean classes at the ILE. But that is where the resemblance ceases. In addition to their language classes, international students must take all the required classes regular Ewha students must take, including chapel.
Since the year 2000, an average of ten international students from countries including China, Russia, Turkey, and Argentina has enrolled in Ewha as regular undergraduates. These students are accepted based on high school grades, interviews, and/or portfolio evaluation (depending on the college). They must take a Korean language examination on terms of acceptance unless they have other certification of their Korean language skills, in which case they are exempted.
International students are partly taken care of by the IEI, which has assigned one staff member to be in charge of their specific needs or inquiries. The IEI also hosts orientations to help the students to get to know each other and get to know Ewha. However, despite this assistance, Ewha's international students must do most of the adapting on their own. One of the most common difficulties amongst these students is following lectures given in Korean.
Asiya Li (Liberal Arts, 1), a student from Russia who is in the fourth level (second highest) Korean class at the ILE, says, "It was either get accepted or return home for me. But now that I'm accepted, the difficulty is in taking classes. Korean students in Russia are able to take course exams separately without competing with local students. Professors also prepare easier handouts for them. Here we must compete with Koreans, and it is very hard.
Li also faced the complication of trying to schedule both her Korean classes and her regular classes without overlapping them. "I can't take chapel now, so next semester I have to take two. I also couldn't take English I with Liberal Arts students because it didn't fit my schedule," says Li. Apart from these difficulties, Li has found settling in easier with time. "The orientations by the Liberal Arts College and IEI were a great help in getting to know Ewha, and through time, I've become closer to other students. Even though most of them are younger than I am, I feel that their level of thought is very deep.
Both Li and Kirch agreed that Ewha was a good choice in their lives, and the orientations were great help in settling down. "If only there were some changes made in the way professors dealt with international students in class, it would be even better," says Li.
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