[Journalism Internship] Freshmen face a tough question: Zoom or in the room?

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[Journalism Internship] Freshmen face a tough question: Zoom or in the room?


New university students discuss life in Covid college  

“My nights and days are mixed up,” said Kang Min-jin, a freshman at George Washington University.  
Kang, who graduated from Korea International School Jeju (KISJ) last year, was one of many students at KISJ accepted to a foreign university. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she had to take all courses online at home in Korea.  
While some graduates chose to take a year off or wait until face-to-face classes resume, others told the Korea JoongAng Daily they were “lucky” their schools didn’t offer any online courses and required all students to attend physically.  
The paper spoke with three students. The following are edited excerpts.  
Online learning: Kang Min-jin
George Washington University student Kang is yet to attend a class in person and has remained in Korea throughout her freshman year.  
Why did you decide to take online classes instead of a year off?  
Since it was my first year in college, I wanted to know how the university education system works. I was keen to start the first semester, just in case I was able to attend the university in person in the nights mixed up.  
Do you have any advice for new graduates who are considering taking online classes?  
As a person who does better when learning in an academic environment, I don’t recommend taking online classes unless you are confident that you can concentrate regardless of the surroundings.
Taking a break: Han Su-ye  
Han Su-ye was accepted to the University of Toronto in Canada to study actuarial science, but decided to take a year off school.  
Why did you decide to take a leave of absence from school?  
As the Covid-19 pandemic grew serious, the school moved classes online and I thought it was meaningless. I didn’t think I would be able to study properly through online classes and it would be physically too demanding to attend classes considering the time difference.  
What have you been doing since you took a break from school?  
Since I had a chance to do a lot of things that I wanted, I am currently tutoring grade school students and learning to pole dance. I thought this was the only chance to do whatever I wanted to do before going to college, so I decided to do just that.  
What are the benefits and shortcomings of taking a leave of absence from school?  
The biggest advantage is that I have time to do what I want to do before I get too busy in college. I guess the shortcoming will be graduating later, and also I don’t want to feel like I wasted this time. I guess the expected return to face-to-face class will be in September.  
Would you recommend taking a leave of absence to this year’s graduates?  
If the school allows students to attend in person, I don’t think they have to take a break from school. However, if they need a short break before they start college life, or if there are some things they really want to do, it wouldn’t be a bad move to take a break and focus on their own self-development. 
Face-to-face learning: Chin Se-bin  
Chin Se-bin was accepted to Singapore Management University, where she now studies business. She was able to study on campus.  
How is the local situation? Are there any Covid-19 protocols?  
While in Korea people register personal QR codes when they enter buildings, in Singapore every building has its own QR code that can be scanned using the Safe Entry app.
As the Delta Variant has impacted Singapore, there is a ban on gatherings of more than two people.  
What are the benefits and shortcomings of taking classes face-toface?  
There is a mental benefit: I get to gather with my classmates and take classes together. Also, I benefit from learning directly from the professors in person and being able to solve problems right away. The biggest privilege for international students is to be able to learn the local culture.  
What did you look forward to or worry about when you began face-to-face classes?  
Well, the fact that I finally got to go to the campus was exciting. I was looking forward to beginning campus life. Also, I was excited to meet my classmates and club members who I had only met through Zoom.
However, leaving home by myself was a big worry for me. In fact, many [KISJ] graduates I knew of decided to take online classes or take a year off. Since my decision was different from them, I remember that I worried about what life in Singapore would be like.  
Would you recommend that new graduates take in-person classes?  
Of course! I believe taking face-to-face classes is a great option compared to taking online classes because you don’t have to be as self-motivated. Along with increased vaccinations around the world, I hope everyone will soon be able to go back to their normal lives. Remember to keep up personal hygiene!

BY HAN HYO-JUNG AND SEONG SOO-MIN [hjhan24@kis.ac, smseong24@kis.ac]
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