Ewha UniversityStudent Experience - Korea
Exchange Student, Tabitha Carriera
EWHA Women’s University, Korea – Fall 2008
“I did not know any Korean when I arrived, so it was a little hard to communicate in stores and restaurants, but the difficulties did not affect my stay greatly.”
I applied for my VISA at the Korean Consulate General here in Hawaii, located on 2756 Pali Highway. I paid a fee of $40 (cash only) for a multiple entry VISA, and I was able to pick it up the next day. I did not have to do an interview, but I did have to provide passport photos. The University let me know, through e-mail, that my “buddy” would contact me and we could make arrangements for her to pick me up at the airport. A few days later my buddy contacted me. She met me at the airport rode with me to EWHA’s dorm by bus and taxi. For the flight I paid $1,906 and traveled from Honolulu to Japan to Seoul, South Korea on United Airlines.
There was a two-hour orientation lecture and a mandatory tour of the campus. I had to choose my classes when I arrived by attending the first classes and getting signatures from the professors. I did receive a list of possible classes, however, before arrival. I had a bit of difficulty with my schedule, but I got the classes I needed in the end. I think that other than the Women’s Issues in Psychology classes, HPU’s classes are better in the quality of teaching, academic content and other matters. I would not recommend taking Elementary (Beginner) Korean. The textbooks for the class contained a lot of useless material. Everything we learned was very formal and even outdated ways of speaking. I would have liked to learn more practical phrases and words. Also, the methods of teaching the material were very poor. Everyone in the classes was very frustrated and very discouraged.
There is an office in the International House that helped me with any problems I had in the dorm. They were friendly and answered mostly any questions I had. If I had other concerns, I was able to e-mail Katherine Kim, the head of the Office of Global Affairs (OGA), directly.
I reserved my housing by filling out the form EWHA included in my acceptance packet and mailing it back. It costs about $1,000 total for a double room. I stayed in a room that included two beds (each bed came with sheets and a pillow; blankets can be rented for about $3/semester), a refrigerator, a private bathroom, AC/heater, two desks, and two cabinets. The International House is located very close to both the back gate and the main gate. Walking to classes was fairly quick. I did not use a calling card. I rented a cell-phone to make local and international calls, although I usually used Skype to contact people at home. I asked a friend who spoke Korean to come with me to a cell-phone shop. I filled out the necessary information on a form and gave them my passport to copy and was able to get a phone fairly easily. The phone cost about 30,000 won and I usually put about 10,000 – 15,000 won on it per month.
The average exchange rate during my stay was about 1,200 Korean won per 1 US dollar. I opened an account at the on-campus bank – Shinhan Bank – and asked my parents to wire money to my account. Each time I had money wired, it cost about $35 for the party wiring the money. About a week later, I was able to link my student ID card to my Korean bank account so I could use local ATMs to take-out money. On average an exchange student would spend about $1,300 per month.
I had to visit EWHA’s health center once because of my allergy to mosquito bites. I received antihistamine pills and cream. These medications were covered by the $40 fee I paid at the beginning of the semester. The health center is located in the same building as the main cafeteria and the post-office. It is very close to the International House.
I did not know any Korean when I arrived in Korea, but many people in Korea and at EWHA, especially know English. It was a little hard to communicate in stores and restaurants, but the difficulties did not affect my stay greatly.
The facilities and activities the University has available are clubs, computer labs, recreation classes (dance and yoga), etc. Some clubs, like the Taekwondo club charged fees for the competitions and uniforms. I also heard there were yoga and dance classes, but I never got to check them out so I’m not sure if there were fees. There is a computer lab on the first floor of the dormitory, and it was free. It is open 24 hours a day.
I would recommend going to an amusement park. I went to Lotte World. I would also recommend going to Seoraksan (a national park) during autumn. Nami Island is also a fun place. This was a great location – food, shopping, entertainment, transportation. Great dorm. I think the months I spent here were the best months of my life. I would definitely do it again and, I would probably come back to EWHA. Don’t leave right after the semester ends. Plan on taking a few days to say good-bye to friends, and packing your luggage.