Korean students often describe the university entrance exam as “hell.” However, when the exam is over and students successfully get into a university, the “hell” suddenly changes into a ticket to freedom.
This year, 3,114 students entered Ewha hoping to fully enjoy that freedom. The Ewha Voice asked 137 freshmen the question “What do you want to do the most during your university life?” Participating in extracurricular activities like working for student governments, joining a dongari (club activity in Korean), and doing an internship in a company ranked first, chosen by 57 students.
The wish-list came as no surprise to three Ewha seniors. After looking at the list, Lee Soo-yeon (Business Administration, 3), Lee Joo-yeon (Consumer Studies, 4), Kang Oo-ri (Master’s program in Educational Technology, 1) said that the new students’ plans were similar to the ones they had when they were freshmen. The two Lees and Kang then joined the Ewha Voice for a panel discussion about how their plans actually worked out during their college years and what this year’s freshmen ought to know when planning their university lives.
E.V.: The freshmen showed a great interest in participating in various types of extra-curricular activities during their college years.
Lee Soo-yeon: Joining club activities can help freshmen find out about their aptitudes and discover a life-long dream.
Lee Joo-yeon: There are contests and programs that university students can participate too.
Kang Oo-ri: However, keep in mind that it is rare for freshmen to be accepted to those programs. This is not because they need more time to widen experiences. They really should not be discouraged because the more you apply the better your chances to be picked.
E.V.: Where can you get information on extracurricular activities?
Lee S: When I was a freshman I visited Ewha’s official homepage literally every day to get information on scholarships, internships and short-tem study abroad programs.
Lee J: I looked a weekly magazine called Naeilshot, Daehaknaeil in Korean. The magazine can be easily found on campus. Information on the contests held by private enterprises and the government is published in the magazine.
E.V.: All three of you have been members of dongaris. What should freshmen keep in mind when choosing dongaris?
Lee S: I urge freshmen to choose their club activities carefully. There are many students who enroll in several club activities and leave them soon, saying that they learn nothing from the club activities. But I feel sorry for them because the best part of a club activity is when you become a sophomore. In your sophomore year, you get to organize everything and learn more about the subject your club activity deals with.
Kang: I would advise freshmen not to treat your club activity as if it’s everything. My club activity was almost everything in my university life. So, whenever I had trouble with the members, I was stressed out by thinking of it. I was afraid that I might have nothing to do if I leave the club. I was wrong, and the new challenges I faced after leaving the club were even more exciting.
E.V.: Interestingly, lots of freshmen answered that they are interested in making money.
Lee S: Doing private tutoring is a fairly easy way to make money. But making a significant amount of money by doing private tutoring is not such a good idea. I spent a semester just doing private tutoring and studying for my school work and I could not have time to do anything else. It is not the right way to spend university life.
Kang: For those who live outside of Seoul, I urge you to start an apartment application savings account starting from your freshman year. If you keep depositing savings throughout your university years, you may become one of the first people on the waiting list for an apartment by the time you graduate.
E.V.: As Ewha is a women’s university, meeting a boyfriend seems like a hard task for freshmen.
Lee J: If you keep going on blind dates, you will find that such artificial occasions cannot get you a perfect guy. My suggestion is to be friends with the men you meet on blind dates and build a human network.
Kang: I recommend freshmen to join associations outside of school. In this way you will be able to find a soul-mate who has something to share with you.
E.V.: Any suggestion for freshmen’s university plans other than those on the list?
Lee J: I encourage them to prepare for Ewha’s study abroad program starting from their freshmen year. I myself wanted to go on it but it was too late when I started to prepare for it.
Lee S: Travelling around different nations is a great experience that you can have as a freshman. If you get near graduation, it is hard to go traveling abroad.
Kang: There are ways to travel without paying much money. I went to Europe twice, once as an internship student supported by Ewha and Doosan Corporation and the other time to take an internship in England.
E.V.: Thank you so much for your suggestions and for sharing your experiences. We would love to hear an overall comment for freshmen.
Lee J: I lived in
Lee S: I recommend freshmen to do various extracurricular activities. Don’t give them up to prepare for national examinations like the Certified Public Accountant Exam or National Bar Exam starting from your freshman year. You will be naturally preparing for the exams if you study for your courses at Ewha diligently. And do some activities that you only can experience as being a freshman like backpacking trip to
Kang: Being a university student means you now have to be responsible of yourself from A to Z. I recommend freshmen constantly meditate on their lives — what they are doing and going to do. Constant check-ups will help you to live a meaningful university life.