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A Tale of Two Sisters

More and more people are learning about Ewha GSIS and telling their friends to apply, through this interview sisters Clarissa (GDKS graduate) and Lidya (GSIS current student), will share how they came to Ewha GSIS, their first impressions of Korea, and what it feels like having a sibling already have gone through the process!

  • Could you please introduce yourself?
    • My name is Clarissa and when I was in Ewha I studied, teaching Korean as a Second Language, department of GDKS. 
    • Hey I’m Lidya and I am from Indonesia and my major is DC from GSIS. 

  • When did you first come to Korea and why?
    • Clarissa: The first time I came to Korea was in 2013, I started summer school in Ewha University and then actually my major in Indonesia was Korean language, so I took teaching Korean as a Second Language as my major in grad school. The first time was in 2013 and then after that I came back with Lidya for traveling. After that the third time I came to Korea was when I enrolled in Ewha. I enrolled at Ewha in 2018. 
    • Lidya: I first came to Korea in 2014, I came here with my sister for traveling and then in 2015 I also went to attend the same summer school in Ewha University. And then before I went to enroll in Ehwa, I went on an exchange program at Hanyang University in 2016. Then I went back home to finish my undergrad and then I enrolled in Ewha, after I graduated. 

  • What did you study for undergraduate and graduate and the reason behind your chosen major.
    • Clarissa: At first I did not know about Korea at all, all I knew was Seoul as the capital city, but around 2010 Hallyu started in Indonesia. So people started to tell me if I learned Korean then I would have a good prospect for me to find a job later in the future. Actually all of my friends in the same batch did not know about Korea at all, they just said the reason to find a job. So it was a new thing with the start of Hallyu in 2009.
    • Lidya: My major was English literature in undergrad, it’s because I wanted to improve my English and I actually aimed for an architecture major, but then I chose English literature. So the reason why I chose DC (Development Cooperation), before I enrolled for Ewha I worked for two years at a company. It was not about development but it was a traveling company, but from there I learned about this situation going around in the world, which also affected tourism as well, so I started growing interest towards International Relations. I talked to my parents about my interest and they said I could just go!

The professors of my major has a lot of publications and journals, and when I was enrolled there, the professor was the head of the Korean language Institute, Professor Lee, she was the head of Korean Language Institute back then.

  • Why did you choose Ewha GSIS and not other schools? 
    • Clarissa: Actually I heard that my major, has the best major in Korea is at Ewha. I have a few Indonesian friends, in the same major as me and she recommends that the professors in this major is really good, they are really professional in their studies so that friend recommended me to choose Ewha. Actually, almost all universities have this major, but the best one is Ewha. If you have heard about Professor Kim, she has a lot of publications and journals. The professors of my major has a lot of publications and journals, and when I was enrolled there, the professor was the head of the Korean language Institute, Professor Lee, she was the head of Korean Language Institute back then. And from what I also know she was also the head of Ewha International Office. What I know is if you learn about teaching Korean, you will find her journals everywhere. And another professor, but the point is all the professors in my major really did a lot of research and journals, if you just mention their names people will know. 
    • Lidya: I also asked some of Clarissa’s friends who attended GSIS and they recommended me to choose IB or DC. If Clarissa had class then they would meet at ECC, she already got familiar with Ewha and surrounding as the second destination for her. The first time I was looking for graduate school I thought about the UK, but then I thought that if I went there I would have to adapt for one year and I would struggle because I don’t know anyone there, so I thought about coming together. 
  • What was your first impression about Korea once you arrived in the country? 
    • Clarissa: When I first came to Korea for the first time in 2013, I think at the time Korean people were not familiar with Hijab, even if you go in Seoul or subway or shops outside, they were staring at me. It is not an uncomfortable stare but it was just staring, but then the second time it got better because of the Hallyu so a lot of tourists back then, and now Korea has had a big progress they don’t even bat an eye. I think Korea is good, the transportation is the best. 
    • Lidya: When I first came here in 2014, I had the same impression about the transportation compared to my home country. Even when I first arrived at the airport, the airport itself was so modern and everything was in order, so neat and so clean. I went to seoul in 2014 and Seoul itself is so modern compared to my home country, so my first impression was Korea is very modern and convenient, and crowded in Seoul.

  • How were you able to adjust to life in Korea? 
    • Clarissa: I don’t feel a lot of difficulties, I can read and do basic conversation and it was fine.
    • Lidya: For me as what she said, she had it easier because she knew Korean but I can read and basic survival stuff, but if it comes to official office and postal office and hospital clinics, I need to ask for another friend who is fluent in Korean because my sister works so I ask for a friend to accompany there. For those who are not really fluent in Korean it might be a little bit hard to adjust here, and since I already came here for an exchange in Hanyang, it was not hard to adjust when I came to Ewha since I was already familiar. 

  • How were you able to adjust to graduate school in Korea? 
    • Clarissa: For me I enrolled in Korean studies, of course the students were more Korean students than foreign students, so in my batch there were only 4 foreigners; Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and one from Italy. At first I felt like graduate school is different from undergrad, it is very individual, the class ended and everyone would just go. We are foreigners, we would say hi, but for Koreans it is kind of different, they are very individual and some of the students were older than me. So I think at first it was hard. It is really different, because you feel like you are alone in class, but thankfully there are foreigners. At first it was hard for the first semester and then I got accustomed to it. 
    • Lidya: I think because I am in GSIS there are a lot of international students and Koreans are only 20% of the major, I kind of think that probably it would be a different case. Clarissa is from a major where the majority is Korean people. While she said it was a hard time there, but for my case my first semester was okay. My friends from my major were very friendly and did not hesitate to come when I needed help. When I had difficult in following the studies because I was from a literature major, so I asked for help from my friends who already work in DC field and they gladly explained and taught me all the things I did not know. For my first semester and adjusting it was alright because I had my international friends. Also we are graduate students so we are forced to do more discussions and presentation, we have to state our opinions more often, so for that part I am still adjusting. 

I am just happy that everyone knows my school, to have that pride. 

  • Would you make the same decision if you went back in time?
    • Clarissa: Enrolling to Ewha was one of my best choices that I ever had, so if I had the option to enroll in another university, I would say no. Because even though I feel like I had it hard when I went to graduate school, of course I had to talk in Korean of course that part was difficult. I am very satisfied because you have this privilege everywhere, when I say Ewha everyone tells me I am so smart, but I am just happy that everyone knows my school, to have that pride. 
    • Lidya: I think joining Ewha is also one of the best choices I made in my life. I really love it here, so far the professors have been nice and I really like the school. The environment with my friends is really supportive, and the school is so beautiful with a lot of facilities. Whenever I go out to shop and then some older Korean people ask where I study and when I say Ewha, they say it is a good school and it is always like that. 

  • What kind of advice would you give to others who are interested in coming to Korea? 
    • Lidya: Learn Korean, if you already know basic or intermediate level it would help you a lot, people would be nicer if you know Korean because it is easier to communicate and I think for graduate school it is best to study and read materials before you go to class.
    • Clarissa: Compared to when I went to Japan, of course I cannot speak Japanese but it felt the instructions were more difficult, but Korean is easier to understand. In Korea the signs have both English and Korean, but still you need to learn basic Korean. 

  • If there were more scholarships for siblings to attend Ewha University, do you think more people would be interested? 
    • Clarissa: Yes, of course I would like to recommend Ewha to my family and friends also. I also recommended it to my other friends in Indonesia, if you want to enroll, just go to Ewha. The system is good, the location, everything is nice. If there were sibling scholarships then people will come much more.
Lidya, GDIS, DC major (left) – Clarissa, GDKS, Korean Language major (right)

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