Recently, COVID-19 drastically changed the life pattern of various folks of life. Similarly, the educational landscape for millions of university students around the world has been affected badly. The educational system suddenly changed from class lectures to online learning. As a result, the social life of students has dramatically changed and there is few interaction among them. However, every individual has their perspectives about the ongoing situations. Being an international student here in Korea, I have observed a strong connection of COIVD-19 with the students᾽ lives and interviewed various international students who are studying here in Korea. I tried to highlight their stories related to this pandemic. Let’s view the situation from their own perspectives.
|Doga Koc (Mass Communication) at Yonsei University|
|Poluiakhtova Mariia (Architecture) at Hongik University|
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Doğa: Hello, my name is Doğa Koc, and I am from Turkey. Currently, I am a sophomore student majoring in Mass Communication at Yonsei University.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: My name is Poluiakhtova Mariia and I am from Russia. Currently, I am a regular student at Hongik University, the junior class in architecture major. I studied Korean language at Sungkyunkwan University and after that, I entered Hongik University in 2019.
Lily: I am Ju Hye (Lily) Yoon, came from the USA. I started my master᾽s at Yonsei University majoring in International Trade and Finance Management (ITFM) in 2021.
Gulzira: Hi, I am Gulzira Abuova from Kazakhstan. I am majoring in Agriculture Economics and minoring in Sociology at Kyungpook National University, in Daegu.
|Ju Hye (Lily) Yoon (International Trade and Finance Management) at Yonsei University|
|Gulzira Abuova (Agriculture Economics) at Kyungpook National University|
Q. How do you feel about learning (and future opportunities) as a student in this Covid situation?
Doğa: Although COVID-19 is tough for everyone, as far as I am concerned, it is a little bit harder and more complicated for international students. Since we have not experienced campus life yet. Poluiakhtova Mariia: I feel that I lost a lot of opportunities because I had so many plans for my life in 2020, but all of them were ruined by COVID-19. I lost my part-time job and the pandemic made it so hard to find another one. That is why I must work harder and try more things to overcome my loss this year.
Lily: To be honest, I enjoy being a student during this Covid situation because I am able to study at home and it saves time for commuting. But I am worried about how the job market will be in Post-Corona Era after I finish studying.
Gulzira: Before Covid situation, our society was moving towards the digitalization of education, but we were not ready for a breakneck speed. The world after the Corona pandemic will not be the same. Digital education is developing as well as digital business. In more than one year, there have been fonds of effective online education tools. Life at the university has also changed dramatically. There are a lot of online communities at the university. Students began to socialize through online platforms.
Q. Did this Covid situation affect your studies?
Doğa: Since I came to Korea in February 2020, COVID-19 has strong relations with my school life and studies. For instance, when I first entered the university, I had no friends and no information about any of my classes. Besides, online classes were so new to everyone even for professors. Hence, I struggled a lot in my first semester. Even though I got used to being in this system, Covid situation still makes me anxious about my studies.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: Yes, it affected so much, but I would like to say that it had not only a negative effect. Actually, as I stayed home most of the time, I spent more hours studying and learning new things. So I have got better scores.
Lily: I think it affected in the sense that I am not able to make friends, and everything is too far but I am able to concentrate better at home.
Gulzira: Undoubtedly, it had a very strong impact on my studies and my productivity. Being in an audience with different scholars has a sense of reality and a sense of competitiveness. In virtual life, this feeling is lost. As a social animal, a person needs a group of people in an environment. My academic performance has been worsen due to the pandemic. This is because the harsh isolation has disintegrated me by surprise. Nevertheless, after one semester, I was able to adapt to online learning and found my advantages in this method.
Q. How do you find online learning during this Covid situation?
Doğa: To be honest, it is much easier and more comfortable since we can even drink, eat, or even sleep during class. On the other hand, I believe it affects my studies negatively because I do not give all of myself to listen to my classes as no one is observing me. In addition, it is really hard for me to focus or understand the classes online.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: In the beginning, it was so hard to get used to it because we had so many problems with the screen sharing, sometimes we cannot hear or see anything. But when all problems were solved, I found it convenient because I did not spend my time going to school or preparing. I just wake up and attend the class. But sometimes I become so lazy because of it, so it is really important to use this time properly. Also, I did not feel the pressure and control as I felt in offline classes.
Lily: I am tired to be in front of the computer all day, but I am used to it now and I do not mind it at all! But I do hope at some point that we can go back offline so we can actually interact with friends and professors.
Q. Do you prefer off line education over online? If then, please explain your claim.
Doğa: Yes, I prefer offline education over online. As I mentioned in the previous question, I believe it decreases the learning efficiency. But much more importantly, COVID-19 caused “distancing” in many ways. As a foreign student, I felt so lonely since I had no one to ask for information or talk to when I feel anxious. I could not meet any of my schoolmates nor professors face to face which caused a lack of communication.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: I prefer offline education, but in some way online education has helped me so far. I found out that recorded lectures improved my Korean listening skills, and I got better scores. But I prefer off line lectures because they give more communication and feeling that I am a student and I live hard, but interesting student life.
Lily: I honestly prefer online because of its convenience! I can get up right before 9 A.M. class and still be on time. I do not need time to commute so I can study more.
Gulzira: I prefer the combined method of education. I think both education methods have their pros and cons. In case of online learning, distance learning is possible and saves time and money needed for physical presence in the classroom. I think the student should have a choice when choosing a learning method.
Q. How did COVID-19 affect your personal and social life?
Doğa: There is a saying that “Human beings are social species.” I can relate it because I really love to meet and get to know new people. However, Covid situation destroyed all of our traditional socializing ways. Of course, Social Network Service (SNS) also provides an environment for meeting new people but it is not enough for communicating in both verbal and nonverbal ways. Besides, for school life, it is still so awkward to come across colleagues. Although we need to take our time with ourselves, we also need time with others as well. Due to COVID-19, I cannot go out or hang out with my friends as much as I want. Nevertheless, I need to stop myself hugging to people who I like. Consequently, COVID-19 has a big negative impact on my mental health and social relations.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: Firstly, I was so scared to go outside and stayed at home trying to concentrate on my studies. So at that time, I did not meet a lot of my friends. Now I feel that I lost a big part of my life. Nevertheless, I tried to think positively and to feel that I had a big personal growth through all of this situation. I was planning to visit my country last year, but it did not happen, so this year I finally can meet my family after second half years staying in Korea.
Lily: The five-person limit for social gathering makes it impossible to meet groups of friends, so I have to meet in smaller groups more frequently. I miss hanging out with bigger groups of friends, but I have come to appreciate even having a minimum social life during this pandemic.
Gulzira: Dramatically ruined. As a social animal, I was not ready for huge changes in my life like isolation.
Q. How do you miss the campus life? What do you do to replace the campus life and curriculum activities?
Doğa: Well, I have never had a chance to know about campus life. I have never even had a chance to experience orientation. It is pitiful for sophomores and freshmen in that they cannot experience such good experiences which make university life fun this year.
Poluiakhtova Mariia: I major in architecture, so I miss our studio life, where we make models and share many ideas. I have only Korean students in my department, so when COVID-19 happened I changed the way I used to study. Unfortunately, it is really hard to compensate for any activities, but I exercise and sometimes go out and meet my friends. But I think that sports and keeping my day busy helped me to go through all of the things.
Lily: I never got to experience campus life, so I have nothing to compare it with! But occasionally, I do visit campus so I can see my friends. We usually just meet on campus and end up going to eat outside the campus or studying in cafes nearby.
Gulzira: I only miss daily life without a face mask.
Q. How do you think about the quarantine facilities? Give some suggestions for further improvement?
Doğa: The quarantine facilities were comfortable. The government even provided a “Comfort Package.”
Every individual gave their own opinion about different questions. Overall, it was an interesting debate and all the participants presented constructive augmentations. In my case, this Covid situation has ruined my life very badly. I think offline learning is more effective than online. We can interact easily with the professors to discuss academic issues. Besides, we can also discuss various topics with our colleagues for clear understanding. Regarding the social issues concerned with this pandemic, I personally feel really sad for those students who are entering university during the Covid situation since they are unable to enjoy their student life.
Izaz Raouf firstname.lastname@example.org
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