International students who come from around the globe to fulfill their academic ambitions at Ewha are provided with a Mentoring Program for Ewha International Students from the Office of International Affairs (OIA) during their first semester. The number of mentees per mentor may vary depending on the number of admitted international students but usually assigned with two mentees.
As the mentors’ main role is to help their mentees adapt to life at Ewha and in Korea, their activities range from helping their mentees with their class schedules to introducing them to Korean culture. The school does not regulate their activities, but they are required to spend at least 20 hours together per semester.
“Mentoring usually starts off with helping mentees with their alien registration card applications and course registrations,” said Yura Kim, a mentor of the program since this February. “Since I was a mentee myself, I try to relate to the difficulties that I encountered during my first year at Ewha.”
Unlike exchange students, international students are students officially enrolled in Ewha, who study the same curriculum as Korean students admitted through Korean schools. For them, getting used to Korean culture is crucial, which is what the Mentoring Program focuses on. While cultural exchange is emphasized for other programs of OIA, helping students adapt to the Korean society is a more significant goal for the Mentoring Program.
“I believe that helping my mentees get used to Korean culture is one of the most important roles of a mentor,” Kim said. “Getting used to the basic etiquettes and customs of Korea, like using honorifics and body languages, would not only be applicable in their academic life but also in their life in Korea for the next four years and more.”
All students are eligible to apply as a mentor regardless of their nationality. Many international students who participated as a mentee sign up as a mentor the following semester like Kim, to help other international students facing similar difficulties that they previously overcame.
“Although I am Korean, it was my first time living in Korea when I was admitted as an international student at Ewha,” Kim shared. “Therefore, I had to go through the difficulties of adjusting to new cultures as well. Still I was able to successfully complete my first semester at Ewha thanks to my mentor who was there to guide me whenever I needed help. So I promised myself that I would pass on my gratitude by becoming a mentor to future international students.”
Living in a completely new environment is not an easy task for anyone. This Mentoring Program provided by the OIA aims to help international students successfully mark their start in Ewha, but mentors stated that they also learned so much from their mentees in return.
“I hope that more students, both Korean and foreign will participate as mentors for this program,” Kim remarked. “It is a grateful experience to successfully fulfill my duties as a mentor and make friends to keep even after the official mentoring session is over.”