Joyce: Korea University Winter School (December 2020)

The 2020 Korea University Virtual Winter programme was a very valuable experience for me. I enrolled myself into 1 course: Social Psychology, which was not only relevant to my major and transferable but was life-changing in terms of the theories and concepts taught. The course was conducted online for the whole 3-week programme via zoom, where I had to attend live lectures from 1-4 pm daily with more than 30 students. During the live zoom session, we were given opportunities to discuss and share viewpoints and ideas regarding the course material for the day. The course itself was assessed on Lecture participation, two examinations (Mid-term and Final Exam) and daily chapter reading reflections.

Personally, the daily chapter reading reflections were of the greatest value to me throughout this programme. Not only did it nurture me, but it has challenged me to think beyond my perception. The most memorable concept was about Casual attribution. This being the construal process people use to explain both their own and others’ behaviour, I was able to understand the people around me and myself whilst reading about it, which resulted in direct influence to my own life. Although we could not physically learn together, every student had a positive and initiative attitude which allowed us to still connect despite the distance between us. With daily group activities and the guidance of an interactive professor, I could connect with other global citizens around the world; the theories and concepts covered during the course Social Psychology created a special experience for us to be engaged in a deeper level by sharing our encounters and experiences growing up.

Each student was able to share their unique opinions and perspectives which helped me to practice and learn cultural intelligence. At the end of the programme, I was confident that I gained strong cultural intelligence skills that I can use in my daily life, and future social settings. My time with Korea University and the fellow students around the world indeed gifted me with life-changing insights that I still reflect on to this day. I sincerely hope that we will be able to visit South Korea, and Korea University once every country overcomes these uncertain and unprecedented time of the pandemic. Amidst the tough situation with COVID-19, being able to interact with people from different ethnic, education and cultural background through this programme truly was a breather for me.

Shirin: Korea University Winter School (December 2020)

Most students look forward to the end of the academic year to visit their families and friends and spend another adventurous and fun summer vacation. But of course, for the summer of 2021, everything was different, and the question of what you can do during your break was more relevant. For those who like to benefit and learn something new, virtual courses are a great solution. I didn’t want to spend my holidays in front of the TV, watching movies and TV shows, so I applied for funding to participate in a virtual program. I am studying environmental science, and I am interested in learning sustainability, so I chose to enroll in Sustainability Strategies course by Korea University International Winter Campus.

The great thing about most of the courses is that you can participate in them regardless of your current degree. For example, we had students from different backgrounds, including business, creative arts and law. Having representatives of various faculties is helpful, especially for a group project as you have more perspectives and points to consider and learn. A group project was the primary assignment that we had to present during the final week. The final grade included group project, exam and attendance and participation. The zoom classes were held Monday to Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm New Zealand time, and there were all recorded. All of the sessions were interesting and engaging as most of them were accompanied by incredible Sir David Attenborough movies. Besides, the professor shared lots of exciting stories from his experience of sustainability in different contexts. I believe that virtual program was beneficial to develop teamwork and time management skills.

As we didn’t have much time to prepare for the presentation, we had to spend extra time out of class. It was not easy to select a convenient time due to the different time zones. Sometimes our meeting would continue until 2 am, so I had to learn how to manage everything and be always prepared. Besides, a virtual meeting is more challenging than in person because I feel more comfortable discussing with a real person, particularly when we can’t agree about something. And with people refusing to turn on their cameras, it was even more challenging. In terms of a program itself, I think that it helped me to develop critical thinking skills. I learned that one must be careful when making conclusions about sustainability because there are no globally accepted norms of how it should be assessed. This skill is valuable, especially in my program of study. Overall, I enjoyed the program as I expanded my knowledge about sustainability and learned a bit about Korean culture. I believe virtual programs are a great addition that can contribute to studies and help develop or improve various skills.