THOSE WHO visit the Global Lounge
regularly may realize that there are in fact many foreigners on our
campus. But do many know just what their lives at Yonsei Univ. are like?
Does the fact that there are many such students imply that Yonsei is doing
an excellent job? Just how international-friendly is Yonsei? This month's
cover story gives you the chance to figure out the status of Yonsei's
-Kong Hyon-bin, Editor of Campus
NEAR YONSEI'S East Gate, far away from students'
reach, is the Millenium Hall. This area is occupied by foreign students who came
to study at Yonsei. Chris William (an alias) is one of them. Originally from
Michigan State Univ., William came to Korea last fall to learn Korean, a
language he wasn't able to speak at all. His Korean has no doubt improved, as he
is now able to have daily conversations with his Mentors friend. However, like
most other foreign students, he wishes there were more.
Bring the world to
About 1,500 foreign students like William come to
study at Yonsei each semester for several reasons, notably language and culture.
About 800 students from over 50 nations enroll every semester at the KLI (Korean
Language Institute) and 200-300 exchange students come from foreign
universities, including UC students coming through the UCEAP (Univ. of Cali.
Edu. Abroad Program) program. Annually, 200 students join the Summer Sessions,
and 122 international students have entered Yonsei just like any other regular
student. Except for the KLI and UCEAP students, all foreign students are managed
by the DIEE (Division of Edu. and Exchange).
The DIEE is in charge of maintaining exchange
partnerships and managing international students. Established in 1966, the DIEE
moved to the Millenium Hall in 2000 in order to be closer to the foreign
students' classes and dorms. While this department is in charge of academic and
administrative concerns, the cultural aspects are being managed by students in
Mentors Club and Yonsei Global, located at the GL (Global Lounge).
|▲ "I am satisfied
with how the UCEAP is run and the cultural events it provides," says
With even more international students expected to
stream in next year for the Underwood International College, efforts to meet
these students' needs are desperate. Judging from these numbers, Yonsei Univ. is
no doubt a leader in campus-internationalization, but is its current effort
enough to satisfy its guests?
A part or apart?
"I find Yonsei students to be friendly and kind; I
just wish there was more opportunity to meet them," says William. This can seem
odd, since the Global Lounge constantly has cultural events and seems to be
visited by foreign students. "In reality, we're all sort of isolated around the
Millenium Hall, and foreign students barely go to the main campus area,"
explains William. With their dorms and classes far away, some foreign students
don't even know where the Main Gate is.
Language is another problem. Many exchange students
take regular courses, mostly in English, with permission from the DIEE. But they
later find out that many of these lectures are not really in English after all.
There are professors who lecture in Korean and teaching assistants don't always
speak English either. "Once, a teaching assistant announced the change in exam
schedule in Korean. An exchange student in that class couldn't understand what
was said, and later found himself sitting alone for the original exam schedule,"
says Wie Gang-jeon (Regular Program Coordinator of DIEE).
The most serious problem is lack of help from the
DIEE. The DIEE does give an orientation at the beginning of each semester, but
it is focused on registering and explaining university rules. "We can't give
students detailed information about school facilities. We?e focused on
administrative concerns, and it is the GL that helps students with other
activities," says Kim Yoon-ho (Coordinator/Advisor of UCEAP). Even so, the
office often cannot even give accurate information to students. "When students
ask about classes or other concerns, the office says one thing, and the students
later find out that the office was wrong. So they feel that they can't get
information from DIEE, since there's constantly a mixup," says a staff of UCEAP.
"Most of us don't know much about the Student Union building except maybe the
cafeterias," says William.
|▲ Students at KLI
came all the way here to study Korean. Many of these students, however,
would like to meet more regular Korean students and learn about Korean
International students, likewise, cannot get
sufficient help from the university. Although they are required to take Korean
classes before entering, their language skills tend to be behind regular Korean
students. Also, without help, they lack knowledge of Yonsei's distinctive events
such as the Yon-Ko Athelete's Meet and the usage of school facilities. While
these students no doubt need separate guidance and academic help, the university
only provides a separate mandatory writing class for those who lived abroad for
more than 5 years.
Due to these problems, foreign students visit
UCEAP, a center for UC students located right across the hall from DIEE. "We're
originally here to help UC students with their academic concerns, but we also
help other foreign students who need help. It? hard for students to visit the GL
counseling center since it is far away from the Millenium Hall," says Kim. UCEAP
can provide more direct help and advice as their English competent staff and
part-time student worker can easily understand foreign students' cultural and
academic needs right away.
Fundamentally, all these problems are caused by
Yonsei's lack of staff members devoted to students' needs only. Compared to the
UCEAP, the KLI and DIEE do not have any means or enough staff to understand and
fully help students. While the UCEAP deals with academic, cultural, and
administrative concerns, the KLI and DIEE staff are devoted to just
administrative concerns. While counseling is done in the GL, the staff does not
link the students with it strongly, which deprives the students' chance to meet
regular students and participate in cultural events.
Connecting the isolated with
Still, Andrew Vogel is satisfied
about his stay at Yonsei. An American student from UC Santa Barbara, he came
through the UCEAP to learn about Korean history. "I think there are enough
classes, and the UCEAP hosts an adequate number of events like field trips,"
says Vogel. Students like Vogel who come through the UCEAP get advice easily
compared to the KLI and regular exchange students as they don't have to go all
the way to GL to get help. "The university purposely located a counseling center
in GL so that students could visit the main campus more often, but students find
it hard to go all the way there especially when the weather is not right," says
Even though UCEAP is open to other foreign
students, this office alone cannot handle the needs of everyone. In order to
give help to as many students as possible, the KLI and DIEE should independently
have enough staff who are perfectly fluent in English or part-time Yonseians who
can help. These additional staff, if possible, can help organize more active
social and cultural events. Especially the part-time workers, as fellow
students, can make a stronger connection with the GL's student clubs such as
Mentors and Yonsei Global.
For international students who are here to study
just like any other Yonsei student, the school should provide constant
counseling for them. ?e do have an English-speaking nurse, but foreign students
rarely come,?says a staff from the Yonsei Counseling Center. Thus, to give more
realistic help to international students the university should appoint a
different advising professor or student helper who can constantly guide these
students in their everyday campus life.
Not only the university, but the students also
must be a part of the changing process. Foreign students should make an effort
to engage in diverse events and meet regular students on the main campus area.
If they came all the way to Korea from their respective countries to learn more
about Korean culture and language, it would be a great help if they attempted to
get closer to Yonsei Univ. and Korea.
Yonsei is the host of more than 1,000
international students. If this ambitious university wants to welcome the world
to its campus, it should provide what these students need for their campus life.
This fall semester, 326 more foreign students will be looking forward to their
stay here, like William and Vogel. Let? give them a warm welcome.