Graduate School Special: Coming from overseas to Ewha
Graduate School Special: Coming from overseas to Ewha
  • Choi Hye-jung, Im Jung-hyun
  • 승인 2022.04.11 12:21
  • 수정 2022.04.12 12:39
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Following the first goal of Ewha 2030+, to revitalize Ewha’s status as a research-oriented university, Ewha has endeavored to recruit and nurture competitive graduate students since last year. In her latest interview with Ewha Voice, President Kim Eun mee declared that Ewha’s efforts served to increase the graduate school enrollment rate by 93.3 percent, recording the highest percentage in the past 10 years. According to the Ministry of Justice as of 2021, 411 master’s students and 129 Ph.D. candidates from abroad have attended graduate school at Ewha. Two students who either received a degree or are currently enrolled in Ewha graduate school shared their experiences at Ewha as international graduate students with Ewha Voice.


Andani Dinar Nabila remarks Ewha values an individual's desire to face challenges

Andani Dinar Nabila received her master’s degree from the Graduate School of Communication & Media in February 2022.Photo provided by Andani Dinar Nabila
Andani Dinar Nabila received her master’s degree from the Graduate School of Communication & Media in February 2022. Photo provided by Andani Dinar Nabila

With the growing international popularity of K-pop, many students around the world have decided to study at graduate schools in Korea to learn more about the Korean media ecosystems and the media content stemming from them. This was the case for Andani Dinar Nabila, who received her master’s degree from the Graduate School of Communication & Media in February 2022. Having great interest in Korean media content, Dinar majored in Korean Studies at the University of Indonesia. Contrary to her expectations, the bachelor’s program covered matters broadly but not deeply, mainly focusing on Korean history and literature.


Thus, Dinar looked for a suitable graduate school where she could research and learn in-depth about subjects she was interested in. Ewha seemed a perfect fit for her, since it had diverse curricula and renowned professors in the field of media. Most notably, Ewha was one of the few Korean universities providing scholarships to international students. Dinar received the Ewha Global Partnership Project scholarship, which provides full tuition and housing fees for promising international students.


“I first came to see Ewha’s campus as a tourist in 2017,” Dinar said. “My friends and I stayed at a guest house just across the street from the front gate of Ewha’s campus. I walked around the campus and wondered what it would be like if I became a student of Ewha. I think I had hoped to attend graduate school at Ewha from then on.”


Although she did not find it difficult to study and conduct research in Korean, as she had studied Korean since she was in middle school, she still suffered throughout her first semester at Ewha. She was unfamiliar with statistical analysis as she was used to the qualitative research methods that are conducted in liberal arts research. Dinar had to study harder and even take supplementary lessons to catch up with other students. She reminisced that she struggled to process knowledge in three different languages, Korean, English, and Indonesian, studying even harder than when she was in high school.


Dinar believes that she was never alien to Korean culture but was surprised when she first saw seats in the study halls full of students during examinations. She pointed out that the academic atmosphere of Ewha is a major factor that attracts students who are eager to improve their competitiveness or learn from intelligent peers.


“At Ewha, you are free to pursue what you desire,” Dinar said. “When I was an undergraduate, my classmates often tended to nitpick me for trying my best to ace tests and get good grades. Ewha values an individual's desire to face challenges and show endeavor. That positive atmosphere enhances the development of students.”


She also pointed out that Ewha graduate school accepts students from various countries, allowing them to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. According to her, international students accounted for the majority of the total number of students in the Graduate School of Communication & Media. What made Dinar most satisfied was Ewha’s active support for research based on students’ interests.


“The Ph.D. candidates from Indonesia around me agree that Ewha is the best place for students who want to conduct research well,” Dinar said.


With the support of the school and her supervisor, she completed her master’s thesis on the effect of K-pop fandoms’ social media use on each fan’s satisfaction by examining the amount of “social presence” and “mattering” that each fan perceives. Being a K-pop fan herself and a researcher, Dinar always felt that existing studies failed to adopt proper indicators that could show a fandom’s satisfaction. Dinar asserted that studies on K-pop fandoms solely measure the fandom’s satisfaction through measuring their desire to purchase or imitate.


“After COVID-19, most K-pop fans interacted with each other and produced information regarding their favorite entertainers,” Dinar said. “I wanted to see if those actions fulfilled their desires even without the in-person elements.”


Having no social network in Korea, Dinar participated in seminars hosted by the school and communicated with professors to make personal connections. While doing so, she met professionals from diverse areas and came to understand how each aspect of Korean media works. Those experiences helped her find her current job of digitally typesetting Korean content and educating authors.


To those interested in attending graduate school, Dinar advises contemplating whether or not they enjoy studying and desire to see the world in a wider perspective. She emphasized that Ewha is always open for those who challenge themselves and want to be encouraged.


“In Indonesia, there was a perception that studying abroad was unrealistic, but recently more people have started to consider it,” Dinar said. “The number of Indonesian students, which was fewer than 10 when I entered, has more than doubled lately. I hope all the international students, especially Indonesian students, have diverse experiences in Ewha and achieve their ultimate goals.”


Yoo Arisa discovers her dream to become a Korean language expert at Ewha

Yoo Arisa is currently in the second semester of her master’s degree of Teaching Korean as Foreign Language at the Graduate School of International Studies. Photo provided by Yoo Arisa
Yoo Arisa is currently in the second semester of her master’s degree of Teaching Korean as Foreign Language at the Graduate School of International Studies. Photo provided by Yoo Arisa

While some international students decide to study abroad in Korea to learn more about Korean culture such as K-pop, others come to Korea to learn more about the Korean language itself. Yoo Arisa, who majored in Japanese culture as an undergraduate student, is currently in the second semester of her master’s degree in Teaching Korean as Foreign Language (TKFL) program at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS). Throughout the program, Yoo has conducted studies on the acquisition of “anyone” and “no one” for Japanese Korean learners and conducted research on teaching methods using fairy tale books for beginner Korean learners.


When deciding what to study at university, Yoo was not interested in a specific field, so she chose Japanese culture, which she felt relatively close to. She was not interested in Korean at the time. However, her major required her to study a second language. Among Korean, Chinese, and French, she chose Korean as it seemed the easiest.


Studying Korean in Japan, Yoo encountered a shortage of Korean language education experts. Hoping to become an expert herself to spread the joy of learning Korean as a foreign language, she decided to attend graduate school in Korea.


Yoo chose to come to Ewha because of an early experience she had here. In her sophomore year, Yoo participated in a three-week Korean language education course at Ewha Language Center. Even though the course offered a basic level of Korean language in a short period, learning Korean at Ewha was an opportunity for her to dream of becoming a Korean language expert. This positive impression brought her back to Ewha as a graduate student.


Since Yoo decided to enter graduate school to learn about Korean language education, she had a hard time choosing between the Department of Korean Language and Literature and the Department of Korean Studies at GSIS. In the end, she enrolled in the Department of Korean Studies, particularly the TKFL program, since she felt more attached to the field.


Before making the decision of entering a graduate school in a foreign coutnry, Yoo had many concerns. In terms of living, she was worried about whether she could adjust to and live well in Korea because it was her first time living alone, not to mention living abroad. She was also afraid that she might not be able to keep up with her studies. Since her undergraduate major was Japanese culture, which had nothing to do with Korean language education, just the thought of studying an entirely new subject in a foreign language scared her.


Nevertheless, Yoo was looking forward to everything. She was excited that she would be studying a subject she liked at a school she had been eager to be a part of. Although her studies are not easy, she is working hard and is content to learn with her respectful professor, Ph.D. candidates, and excellent colleagues.


“The atmosphere is what makes our department special,” Yoo said. “Professors prepare for classes meticulously, and I can feel that they enjoy sharing opinions with students during class. I love it when the students actively share their thoughts without hesitating and studying together. Also, I was very impressed with the research papers written by the professors for their well-organized structure and in-depth knowledge.”


Yoo is even planning to get a doctorate. After receiving her master’s degree, she will go on to a doctorate course and obtain a degree while working at Ewha Language Center. When asked to give a piece of advice to future international students who are interested in or planning to study abroad at graduate schools in Korea, Yoo advised to think carefully before making a decision.


“It depends on your major, but studying at a graduate school is tougher than it seems,” Yoo said. “Therefore, it is important to think deeply and make your own decision whether this is the field you are devoted to. If you come up with a confident 'yes,' you will have fun with your research and can endure the difficulties. In terms of scholarships, they are often only available before admission, so for students interested in receiving them, I recommend you spare your time to look up the information before the semester begins.”

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