According to the Office of Global Affairs (OGA), the number of male exchange students has increased 25 percent as of last year.
“The population of male exchange students at Ewha has, ironically, been on a rise over the years,” said Kim Jina, Program Coordinator of the OGA.
For White, his usual intention was just to come to Korea, not to Ewha itself. “I wanted to learn about Korean culture, which other universities outside of Korea don’t really teach,” White said. “But that Ewha is the largest women’s university in the world adds to the allure—and the fact that everyone here is so welcoming.” It was like killing two birds with one stone.
What it comes down to is that Ewha girls know their stuff when it comes to making male foreign students feel welcome at a school once depleted of men.
For Marcello Kolax (University of Central Lancashire, 3), attending an all girls’ school is not any different from going to a regular school. “It’s just the matter of self-consciousness, like I feel everyone in class is staring at me as if I’m the only one of my kind left.”
On some occasions at Ewha, a simple trip to the bathroom turns into an endless quest or adventure of sorts for guys like Sang So (Rutgers University, 3). “I had to go to the restroom once, but didn’t realize that the boys’ bathroom wasn’t on the same floor until afterwards, that I came back late and had to stay after!” he said.
But it’s not that horrible. The bathroom is always empty, as there is literally no one.
“No guys means no lines!” said Sebastian Nestler (Martin Luther University, 4).
Meeting people at Ewha is always a blast, too. “Just say ‘hello!’ and they giggle immediately back,” Philip Olbrich (University of Cologue, 5) said. But they must constantly be mindful of just how “intimate” they get to Ewha students.
“They get really uncomfortable if you try to hug them,” in Nestler’s case. His friend, Denis Loi (Université de Marne-la-Vallée, 3), added, “back in France it’s an act of friendship to give a kiss on the cheek, but here you’re likely to get slapped in return!”
White also learned a valuable piece of information about Ewha girls. “Korean women are born with high heels on their feet,” he said. “I’m still shocked whenever I see them in kill-heels running up the stairs or up a slope, or even down a slope, for that matter, which is probably harder to do.”
“I actually expected to have problems here, not just in Ewha as an all girls’ school, but in Korea itself as well,” Nestler said. “It’s the language barrier that is my only trouble, nothing much else.”
In order to break this barrier, most exchange students choose the option of taking classes in Korean language here, courtesy of the OGA—yes, the ones that regrettably run only in the morning, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. It is a delight, yet a tragedy, in a way, to see students go to great lengths for simple communication.
And how do the girls think of having around these boys?
Alison Kim (Media Studies, 4) one of many to have seen them walking around campus is also one of few who has taken a class with them. “It felt good, and I got a feeling that they’re into the class and the material itself, and not on the students in it, surrounding them, who are all the opposite sex—women,” she said.
Her friend, Caridee Cha (Media Studies, 4) got the same vibe from them. “It’s fun, like they’re really active and participate a lot, and they uplift the original awkward atmosphere of the class,” she said. “I hope I can take more classes with them if I get the chance, but not because they’re guys!”
“I’ve loved my stay in Korea, and also my stay in Ewha,” Wehnert said. “I think Ewha’s specialty is friendliness, where I feel safe and comfortable—not anything like my hometown!”