Noonsong A has recently become interested in foreign cultures and is thinking about going overseas to experience a foreign culture firsthand. She recalls that her friend Noonsong B, went to Canada on a student exchange. After only half a year as an exchange student in Canada, Noonsong B was able to improve her English and returned with much more confidence. Noonsong A begins searching the school homepage for information on exchange programs and regrets having only participated in a school club for the last three years at university. What types of overseas programs does Sookmyung offer its students?
Global is Sookmyung
Today, the world is a globalized society, and boarders have started to disappear. Therefore, to succeed in the modern job market, students need qualifications that match the trend. Sookmyung Women's University has helped Sookmyungians expand their experiences by offering a variety of overseas programs. The overseas programs draw great attention from students because they know they can learn a wide range of knowledge and at the same time feel firsthand a foreign culture by jonining such programs. One of the greatest advantages of joining a school exchange program is that students can study in a relatively safe environment at a reasonable cost. In particular, Sookmyung Women's University has sisterhood ties with about 400 schools and companies around the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America, etc. The various overseas programs supported by the school include student exchanges, SAF programs, multiple degrees programs, SISS, and short-term programs. Short-term programs overseas also include internships such as the <WFUNA's Advanced Training At the UN: Korea> program, language training programs, and FSU Disney programs, which provide students with diverse opportunities in various fields. Sookmyung aims at expanding student experiences while at university by offering options such as studying, interning, and various experiences.
Though there are numerous programs available, most students are interested in going on an overseas student exchange, an overseas internship, and short-term overseas language training. The survey found that the most preferred overseas programs for the Sookmyung was 'exchange student program.' On the other hand, 'short-term program' showed the lowest results. You Hyojeong, Department of Social Psychology '17, said, "The exchange student program has always been popular and is the most familiar among students, so most others I know, including myself, are mostly interested in this program. However, I am currently attracted to the short-term program which is a global expedition because it is a group event. I think I can improve my communication skills and foster community spirit. Also, I think I would participate more actively in it because I make the subject choice myself." Also, Lim Yubi, Department of Political Science & International Relation '19, said, "I prefer short-term program. I think the burden is low because it goes on in the short term. I think it also helps the younger students who have little learning through team project." Even with the provision of diverse programs, students can find that their favorite programs are one-sided.
What Do You Prefer?
According to the Office of International Affairs' website, the school organizes student exchanges, cultural tours, and overseas internships with about 400 overseas colleges. Among them, there are certain programs favored by Sookmyung Women's University students. For the question of which of the overseas programs that Sookmyung Women's University provide do you prefer, among 83 respondents, 56.6% (47 students) said exchange students, 21.7% (18 students) answered internships overseas, 18.1% (15 students) answered short-term language training, and 3.6% (3 students) answered Etc. The most popular overseas program was found to be the student exchange. There are two types of exchange programs: regular exchange and study abroad. As a result, the regular exchange program is the most favored by students due to the low financial expense. The school makes a decision on student exchange applicants in March and students go abroad during the fall semester of that same year. To apply for an exchange program, students need to meet several qualifications. First, applicants must be registered full-time students between their 2nd to 6th semesters and have a GPA above 2.7 out of 4.3. Applicants must also meet the school language requirements, which is proof of TOEFL course learning. Besides student exchanges, students are also interested in doing an internship overseas. The most popular internship program is the Walt Disney World Internship organized by Florida State University. The program is offered in partnership with the Florida State University, where participants in the FSU's Interventional Communication Program or Hospitality Management Program take relevant classes and conduct field training as paid internships at Walt Disney World for about six months. On average, about 14 students annually are selected after an interview process with a Disney Recruiter to participate.
Exchange and internship students always return and talk about their experiences of their time abroad. Especially, it is certainly a unique chance as a university student to live abroad for at least one semester. Students who visit SnoWe, the student community on the website of Sookmyung Women’s University, they will learn how life can become more vivid after studying overseas. One student who went to a Canadian university for one semester wrote: "It is very valuable to live in the country you have dreamed of. For me, the memories of being an exchange student are filled with the people I met and the places I traveled." Furthermore, the Disney internship experience is also prized among Sookmyungians. One student, who interned at Disney in 2018, said "I still can't believe I've been to Disney. I was obsessed with doing something great before going to Disney, but that no longer matters. I have been to Disney, and I would go back again." A returnee said that staying abroad for half a year made life even richer.
Moment of Change
While the school offers a large number of overseas programs, most students do not know much about them because they are not publicized well or well known. That is, many programs are not enjoying much attention from students. The <WFUNA's Advanced Training At the UN: Korea> program and multiple degree programs are two examples. The <WFUNA's Advanced Training At the UN: Korea> program is a short-term program offered by the Office of International Affairs in conjunction with WFUNA. The program, which operates during the vacation, sends students to New York, Geneva, and Switzerland every other year. Sookmyung is the only Korean university to have such an agreement, and each time participants return highly satisfied, and they got a lot of interest from outside. Students interested in the UN and other international organizations are welcome to apply and receive direct training at the UN headquarters. It is an excellent opportunity for students as the school supports students with 3 million won of the total 4.5 million won required to participate in the program. However, applicants need to make an extra effort in advance because the program has strict application qualifications in terms of grade requirements and a certain level of English competency. And there are also several interview stages. Besides, the multiple degree programs enable participants to earn a degree from both schools attended. In other words, students complete graduation requirements at both schools by attending up to two years at the overseas university. Sookmyung provides financial support in the amount equivalent to 100% of the student’s school tuition as a scholarship. The application process is not strict, but it does require independent preparation. Also, there are various international exchange programs using students' major.
Even with Sookmyung's effort to publicize their various programs, students tend to look towards a limited number of them. On a questionnaire, students were asked if they knew about Sookmyung overseas programs other than student exchanges. 31.3% (26 students) said they knew of others, and 68.7% (57 students) said no they did not know of any others. Also, when asked if they were familiar with overseas internships such as Koica or multiple degrees, 8.4% (7 students) said they were and 91.6% (76 students) they were not. Twice each school year Sookmyung hosts a large-scale briefing session and fair in May and November, and regular briefing sessions are also confirmed. Students can also get detailed information on Sookmyung's various programs and their application processes by logging in to the homepage of the Office of International Affairs' website. Sookmyung has been promoting its programs on the 'Smart Sookmyung' application. However, 68.7% (57 students) of student respondents said the promotional methods are poor. 16.9% (14 students) said the methods are sufficient. These findings demonstrate the reactions of students who got information from the school. Lim said, "In fact, there are well known programs except exchange student programs or short-term programs. We've never seen a school promote overseas programs. Of course, there is detailed information on the homepage, but I hope the school will promote it in various ways." As such, Sookmyung needs to reconsider its promotional methods and make needed modifications.
To Be a Global Leader
Sookmyung offers its students a variety of overseas programs. For students, the more information they have, the better and easier it will be to take advantage of them for a brighter future. The year is 2020, Sookmyungians have a chance to become global leaders by enjoying all the opportunities offered to them at university. Opportinities come to those who are prepared. Through the experiences, Sookmyungians can prepare for the future and capitalize on gentle power to change the world.