Lotus lanterns are shining beautifully after the lighting ceremony.
/Photography by Choi Yu-ri
Many major universities in Seoul, which have been conducting non-face-to-face lectures for more than two years since COVID-19 spread, started to change their approach by expanding face-to-face classes in the first semester of this year. Sophomores and juniors have spent their college years with COVID-19 and have not been to school often due to several times of reinforcement of social distancing. Along with the newly enrolled students, and amid the substantial spread of the Omicron variant, they entered the new semester, with the expectations for face-to-face classes and a normalized university life. But at the same time, concerns about the infection remain.
Conversion to face-to-face classes has brought many changes to students and universities
As the COVID-19 continued, many universities inevitably chose non-face-to-face classes with causing several side effects. A survey conducted online from March 16th to 18th by the Dongguk Post for those who entered college in 2020 and 2021 also showed side effects of non-face-to-face classes. In general, freshmen and sophomores of university meet many people, and actively engage in social activities. However, 78.9% of those who thought they were negatively affected said that they could not enjoy many face-to-face campus activities such as clubs, festivals, Orientation(OT), and Membership training(MT). Furthermore, 52.6% of respondents thought there was a lack of opportunities to promote friendship with college colleagues and seniors and juniors. In addition, they pointed out side effects as the decline in class quality, deprivation of opportunities to support exchange students and overseas volunteering, and a decrease in social communication skills caused by online college life. That is why major universities in Seoul, including Dongguk University, have greatly increased the proportion of face-to-face classes despite the spread of the Omicron variant. Since non-face-to-face classes were mixed with face-to-face classes, separate lecture rooms for each building were also provided for students’ convenience. Classes are available at a fixed time at the Business Hall, Myeongjin Hall, Law Hall, New Engineering Hall, Hakrimgwan, Hyehwa Hall, and so on.
With face-to-face classes, universities are gradually resuming in-school events while complying with quarantine rules. First of all, on February 22nd, an entrance ceremony was held to welcome new students in the middle auditorium. Unlike last year’s non-face-to-face entrance ceremony, online and offline methods were combined this year. OT for freshmen was conducted differently for each department. In the case of departments that conducted both online and offline OT, the events planned as a face-to-face were focused on minimizing problems in terms of quarantine by the student council. It was shown that the vaccine pass was checked, and sneeze guards were installed in the classroom.
On the other hand, Kim, an executive of the student council who participated in planning the event, said she had a difficulty planning events and programs at the OT. This is because the student council of this year has lack of experience, and it was difficult to take over properly due to a lack of communication between seniors and juniors. Contrary to these concerns, however, Lee, a freshman who participated in the offline orientation, said, “It was good to meet my colleagues and seniors before the start of the semester.” The second face-to-face event was a club fair which the Dongguk University Club Association planned for students from March 10th to 11th at Manhae Square and Paljeongdo from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. Booths from various departments were prepared. It was an event that took the lead in promoting clubs and organizations that were disappearing due to COVID-19, and making many students feel like they were genuinely university students at the same time.
Students have started their campus life with joy and dissatisfaction
Currently, the campus has regained vitality after the change. Kim entered the school and became a sophomore, but he was still struggling to find a campus building. When asked about face-to-face university life so far, Kim said, “I am happy to have the opportunity to meet people in various departments and meet my seniors through club activities that I started in earnest. Nowadays, I can get a chance to think and have a conversation about my career with my friends.” However, he revealed that there are some inconveniences at the same time. First, he mentioned the problem caused by the mixture of non-face-to-face lectures and face-to-face lectures. Due to this situation, there are cases where students have to take non-face-to-face classes immediately after face-to-face classes. Kim also argued that even though the school runs a lounge in consideration of students, it is often embarrassing that there are several lectures in non-face-to-face classes where the professor asks to turn on the cam and the microphone. Another student, Yang said that there is also great anxiety when a COVID-19 confirmed patient occurs. She expressed concern that it would cause damage to her classmates when COVID-19 was confirmed. “It is inevitable to have face-to-face classes now, but considering the current situation of COVID-19, I think it is a hasty decision.”
Post COVID-19 has brought us many social changes, and suddenly it has become natural to take non-face-to-face classes and put on masks in our daily lives. Students who had to enjoy university life with COVID-19 are still calling themselves freshmen, and they are just getting closer to graduation without properly enjoying or experiencing college life but they can not blame anyone. Therefore, it seems that everyone should make efforts little by little so that many university students who lost their time and have no place to blame can enjoy a pleasant university life from now on.
Woo Ji-yeon firstname.lastname@example.org
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