Korea University: Universities resume summer programs

Over the past two years, with borders closed and overseas travel restricted due to the pandemic, Korean universities were forced to either cancel their summer school programs or hold them online. Now with most Covid regulations lifted both at home and abroad, Korean universities have returned their summer programs back to normalcy — or at least tried to.

Running programs amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the country meant that organizers had to go to great lengths to ensure the safety of the foreign students participating, as well as the professors teaching them in physical classrooms. Schools’ online learning systems were also put to the test, as it became the only way for students who tested positive for the virus to attend classes remotely, either in real-time or through recordings.

Despite the difficulties brought on by Covid, Lee Hi-kyoung, vice president for international affairs at Korea University, said it was these challenging circumstances that pushed her school to test its limits and adapt to any changes that sprung up along the way.

“We’re going to keep evolving,” said Lee. “We recently launched a summer school program for graduate school students, and even high school graduates can now join our undergraduate summer school program before they enter college. We’ve also begun a microdegree program on Korean culture and society.”

There is no known official figure of how many international students attended summer school programs at a Korean university this year, but along with Yonsei’s 1,300, Korea University said it received about 1,400 students from 61 different countries. A few other schools said they received a couple of hundred students. For many international students joining the summer school programs, it’s all about the adventure of traveling far away from home, to a country they’ve come to admire through Korean dramas, films and BTS.

When asked what advice she’d give future participants, Tania Varesano, 22, who studies machine learning and computer science at the Grenoble Institute of Technology in France, said don’t be afraid of speaking to others.

“Everyone is trying to make friends but everyone is kind of scared and pretty shy,” said Varesano, who joined this year’s summer program at Korea University. “People are like ‘I shouldn’t talk to them because I may be bothering them.’ But don’t be afraid because they may be thinking the same thing on the other side.”

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