A number of Ewha graduates are struggling with their studies in due to the ongoing COVID-19. With travel restrictions, visa problems, and full online classes, Ewha graduates who planned to move abroad for the higher level of education overseas faced setback in their academic plans.
Son Hee-won is an Ewha graduate accepted to Stanford University’s Environmental Engineering Masters Program in 2020. Son, however, decided to stay in Korea and delay her enrollment to the school until September 2021.
Son’s biggest reason for the postponement was the school’s tuition. Stanford requires its graduate students to take three semesters per year, and each semester’s tuition is worth 15,000 dollars, yet most of the classes were conducted online due to COVID-19.
“I believe schools’ tuition is inclusive of payment for lectures, cultural exchanges you get from the school’s colleagues and professors, and experiences you get from various interactions on campus,” Son said.
However, Son missed her fellowship due to the delay. She shared that after her decision to have the delay she realized most of scholarship foundation for international studies does not grant a fellowship for postponed degree program. But Son was satisfied with her decision overall.
“To be honest, I was very scared to go abroad right after my graduation and move to a place without any friends, families, or even acquaintances and start everything from the beginning,” Son expressed. “But I was able to stay as a researcher at a lab in Ewha and was offered a chance to write a thesis paper.”
With enrollment to Stanford confirmed, Son believed it was a great opportunity to have a chance to plan a project and work on a thesis under a very relaxed condition. Son also thought this would help her conduct a project and thesis much easier in Stanford once she is done with her current project.
Another Ewha graduate who wished to stay anonymous decided to do her studies in the United States in January 2021. She started her semester in fall 2020 and took the graduate school’s lectures online while staying in Korea.
“Being a typical night owl, I thought the time difference would not matter although Korea was 14 hours ahead,” she said. “But I had to listen to lectures during the night and study during the day which accumulated excess amount of fatigue in me. I realized I could never endure this stress for years.”
The alumna added the fatigue made her fall asleep when she had to study. Although her field of study did not require experiments and real case research, she decided to head abroad to her graduate school despite the pandemic.
She expressed there were more things to pack when moving to United States due to the pandemic, but with a number of schools announcing on-campus lectures from 2021 spring semester, she believes she made a reasonable decision.
There was another alumna who was accepted to a master’s degree program in United Kingdom in September 2020. She turned down the offer and decided to go to Ewha’s graduate school.
“The degree program I was offered with required numerous hands-on-practice on campus,” the alumna explained. “The school did not allow delay of enrollment and required students to move into their campus by January 2021, so at first I decided to head abroad. It was the field of study that I dreamed of, and I always wanted to study in United Kingdom.”
The pandemic situation, however, did not get better. She doubted whether heading abroad in January would be possible, and her parents were concerned with pandemic situations in United Kingdom.
She even considered applying once again to the graduate school, but she was concerned that it will result in an entire year without academic achievement. Ultimately, the alumna decided to stay in Korea and continue her studies at Ewha.