Ewha has improved its global status and demonstrated its potential through several college evaluations. As President Kim Sun-uk said in her inauguration speech, Ewha must be open, diverse and multi-cultural to play its proper role.
The Global Ewha Project is not over yet and Ewha is still on the road to achieve a higher global level. The Ewha Voice investigated those goals that have yet to be achieved and what has been accomplished.
For this semester, Hanwoori Hall, Ewha-Samsung International House (International House) and the Graduate Student Dormitory are allowed as on-campus housing options for foreign students in Ewha. Currently, 243 out of 305 international students (transfer students only) are living on-campus according to the statistics provided by the Office of Global Affairs (OGA).
Transfer students visiting Ewha can choose between living on or off-campus; however, not every exchange student was given that option this semester.
Xin Wang (Xiamen University, 2) first applied to the International House only to receive a notice regarding a lack of vacancies there. Wang soon received an offer to live in the Graduate Student Dormitory instead.
Luan Diep (Paris School of Management, 3) is less fortunate. His residence is the Digital media city complex apartment in Sangam-dong, 20 minutes away from Ewha by car, which was exclusively built for foreigners. Diep pays 700,000 won per month for the housing; the cost is comparable for the other 62 off-campus students.
“The housing costs two times more than the International House,” Diep said. “Though there are some advantages compared to the living in the International House, it’s still expensive for students.”
Diep also registered for the International House for his stay at Ewha. But like Wang, no rooms were available. With the guidance from the OGA, Diep chose his current residence.
“I think Ewha offers the greatest facilities and managing system in housing, but this semester Ewha should have secured more on-campus rooms,” Diepsaid.
“More and more foreign students are coming to Ewha, which is a very positive sign for us, because it means our school’s global status is getting higher,” said Lee Duck-kyu, the assistant director of Ewha dormitory. “Ewha is now going through a transition period to enlarge its scale as a global campus.”
A new International House is now under construction to solve the on-campus housing shortages, which will accommodate at least 149 transfer students more after its completion in 2012.
“We will do our best to accommodate increasing foreign students and help them feel Ewha as their second home. Also, It’s very important for us to balance with the growing demand of domestic students as well,” Lee said.
Communication is crucial for exchange students facing a new culture and a new school system; however, communication between school offices and exchange students remains a challenge.
“Communication problems are still inevitable between exchange students and the school, since it is not easy to adapt to a new language and atmosphere within a semester or a year,” said Lee Seon-sup, the advisor of the Office of Advising & Support for International Students at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
“What schools can do is to provide the correct information quickly to exchange students to minimize difficulties in Korea.”
E-mails and online notice boards are common communication methods. As Social Networking Services (SNS) became a trend, some schools now use Facebook or Twitter.
“We opened a Facebook and a messenger account to help exchange students to communicate with us easily,” said Park Sang-hoo, the international program coordinator of Office of International Affairs at Kyunghee University, a school which ranked third place in this year’s university evaluation report conducted by the Joongang Education Development Institute (JEDI)
Though news travels faster among students with better Web sites and SNS, the language barrier still remains – it is difficult to convey information in languages other than English. To solve this problem, Kyunghee employed part-time assistants who are international undergraduates or graduate students of Kyunghee University.
“They help us with writing or speaking to exchange students who can’t speak Korean or English fluently,” Park said.
Some schools focus on making the students feel more at home.
“To make international students feel they belong to Handong University, exchange students and Korean students have a joint orientation week at the beginning of the semester,” said Lee Hyun-jung, the exchange program coordinator of Handong University.The school also set up a Mentor System which groups students from the same country or same cultures together.
“The Mentor System helps students adapt to a different environment along with friends from a similar culture,” Lee said. “We witness exchange students adapting better when they have good Korean friends or friends from similar cultural backgrounds. It also suggests better solutions.”
Exchange students are relatively happy with the up-to-date IT services provided at Ewha, and are utilizing it well as a learning tool.
“Compared to my school in Germany, the IT service here is more advanced,” Katja Wahle (University of Hamburg, 2) said. “The Cyber Campus system here is better and more often used, and I found it convenient to communicate with professors and fellow students.”
However, the problem comes in accessing the Ewha Portal Information System (EPIS) and the Ewha Cyber Campus with Macintosh. Korean students mostly use Microsoft Windows, and every PC in Ewha is programmed with it. However, most foreign students use Mac.
“I have limited access with Mac. Even though my English online class was canceled, I got the news after a long time,” Lauramarie Corrigan (Saint Marys College, 2) said.
The main problem is the system configuration of Ewha which clashes with the security policy of Mac.
“We are discussing ways to install the Magic Pass in Mac, especially to set up an integrated IT system, which students using Operating Systems (OS) other than Microsoft Windows can use easily,” said Kim So-yun, the staff of the Office of Information and Communications (OIC).
Magic Pass is a program that integrates the entire information system to enhance private information protection.
“By the time we upgrade the Ewha Cyber Campus, we will have improved it in order for Macintosh users to approach to it,” said Kim Ji-soo, the staff member of the OIC. “We are going to upgrade not only the EPIS but also the Ewha Cyber Campus for the Mac users soon.”