For the first half of 2020, people all around the world had to give up many things due to COVID-19. Students of Konkuk University also had to give up their campus lives and stay home. Despite such hard situations, there were students that traveled a long distance to study at KU. The Konkuk Bulletin interviewed international students to see how their first semester was under the ongoing epidemic.
* The interview was conducted separately and through online methods.
Department of Business Administration
Department of English Language and Literature
When did you come to Korea? How many COVID-19 cases were there at that time?
I came to Korea in February. There were not many cases back then but the number rose shortly after.
I came to Korea in January this year. There were only about 10 cases of COVID-19 in Korea.
Why did you decide to study in Korea and continue your study after the situation became worse?
I was not that worried about the situation because I saw how the Korean government was reacting to the situation. I felt that the government was handling the situation very well.
I actually had to fight to stay because the university in USA was forcing me to come back and did not want me to stay here. The main reason I stayed is because I did not feel unsafe in Korea. I actually felt safer here than in USA, mostly because I saw how seriously Korea was treating the virus. I knew that the reason Korea had higher case numbers was because they were testing thousands of people whereas other countries were barely testing any.
Were there any difficulties living here in the first semester?
It was hard for foreign students to buy masks from pharmacies. Foreign students needed their ARC1) to buy government provided masks, but it took a while to get the ARC. I got my ARC on April. Being unable to meet and have interactions with other people was also hard for me.
There were a lot of uncertainties I worried about because I was not in my home country. I worried whether I was able to get any government help when I did get sick and had to quarantine. Also, although I had friends here in Korea, the fact that I did not have any family connections here was tough.
Were there any difficulties studying in Korea?
I think the university did a good job deciding to conduct lectures online. In general, I am fine with it and there were professors trying hard to have students participate in their lectures. However, there were also some lectures that had no other content than uploaded lectures.
Online classes did not suit me well so it was hard to focus on my studies. Also, I came to Korea to study in a Korean university and make friends here, not study in my house all by myself. I think loneliness was also a big difficulty.
Did you get any help from the government or the university?
The Office of International Affairs had been very helpful. Every time I emailed them asking a question, they replied very quickly.
The government gave out mask to foreign students in late March. At that time, foreigners had a hard time purchasing government-provided masks so it was a big help.
Does your family worry about you?
My families were worried when the situation was serious in Korea, but they do not worry as much nowadays. I am actually really worried about my families in France. They had a hard time during the quarantine and I am worried if the quarantine would start again.
Initially my mother was very worried about me because she saw the case numbers in Korea rising. I did tell her not to worry because Korea is coping the problem very well, but she was still worried as all mothers did. Thankfully, she does not worry that much these days. However, I am now worried about my families since the situation in USA is not good. It is upsetting that there is nothing I can do but tell them to be safe.
1) Alien Registration Card, a national identity card for foreigners in Korea
Choi Eun-jun, Reporter email@example.com
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