All universities in the world would want their school to have a good reputation and high rankings. One of the big factors in getting high rankings for universities in Korea is to be global. Being “global” can mean many things – international faculties, international students or global partnerships. The slogan of my home university in Korea was “Ewha Global Initiative” when I was a student in 2009. They have started many projects which provided students to have global experiences. I have benefited a lot from my undergraduate school’s global projects. Today I would like to talk about my study abroad experience when I was an undergraduate student at Ewha Womans University.
- Study abroad program in Ewha
Study abroad program, so called exchange student program is one of the popular programs that most of the students want to go in Ewha. It is because students can bring course credits back to their home university. Also, it is not much of burden economically because students get to pay the tuition to their home universities (Korean universities’ tuition is cheaper than the U.S.). It means that they pay less than the host university students but can receive the same quality education. In addition, they get to take courses in the target language and make friends from all over the world. Because of the many benefits, a lot of students apply to the exchange student program. I applied for the study abroad program for 2013 winter semester. I remember that the evaluation process took several months. It was a three-step process. First, I needed to submit all the documents. It included GPA, TOEFL score and an essay explaining why I should be selected. The office of global affairs would evaluate the documents and shortlisted students are interviewed by two professors. Lastly, they provide a list of students by ranking. Since there is a quota for each host university, the students who has the high ranking (who has high total scores) gets a higher chance in choosing schools that they want to (Ewha OIA, 2016).
- Study abroad to California
Luckily, I went to a study abroad program in 2013 winter semester. I was accepted in a special program called “ISEP.” ISEP is a non-profit organization which helps universities worldwide in student exchange programs. I was able to choose from the partner schools with ISEP. I submitted top 10 schools that I would like to study and was admitted to the school that I wanted to go. Since my experience studying outside of Korea was 15 years ago, it was a great opportunity to improve my English and take courses in a North American institute. I went to study at a small liberal arts college called Pitzer College in Claremont, California. I took four courses. It was not that challenging for management or economics courses because I have already taken most of the courses in English at Ewha. However, the writing class was very challenging at that time because I had to write 10-15 page research paper for the final assignment. I was not familiar with the library system, citations or formatting the essay. To be honest, I have never written anything this long even in Korean. The biggest pressure was the length criteria. Writing is never easy and we often feel frustrated and delay writing at the last minute because it is stressful (Murray, 1978). However, Pitzer was a very nice place as an international student to improve writing. In my writing class, there were only 10 students in class and the writing teacher was the director of the writing clinic center. I would easily go to her office and ask for advice. This family-like atmosphere helped me become active in my learning and improve in a short period of time. I have benefited a lot from the personal care from the faculty in this small private college. One semester at Pitzer enabled me to take my first baby steps in studying in North America. I personally think that my inspirational studying abroad experience in my senior year in undergraduate program triggered me to pursue higher education in graduate school.
Ewha OIA. (2016). Office of International Affairs. [online] Available at: http://oia.ewha.ac.kr/ [Accessed 27 Dec. 2016].
Murray, D. (1978). Write before Writing. College Composition and Communication, 29(4), 375-381. doi:10.2307/357024