[COVID-19 Report] The Class of COVID-19 – From a UIC Freshman’s Perspective

June 18, 2020 by Chaewon Sung

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The coronavirus brought about several unanticipated changes to the world, and as it turns out, Yonsei, too, was not entirely free of its grasp. For one thing, becoming a freshman at Yonsei would be far more exciting were it not for the current pandemic crisis. In many ways, the school life for the class of 2020—the batch of students who entered university in 2020, including myself—are nothing like their predecessors’. Most of them will not get to live in Songdo during the first semester. In compliance with the government’s social distancing schemes, the entrance ceremony was cancelled, along with other official orientation events and freshman workshops; even events like AKARAKA were postponed to the second semester as well.

Since Yonsei announced its plans to postpone offline classes until the fall semester, most classes have been conducted online, via YSCEC. Professors and lecturers have worked out a way to successfully deliver lessons in spite of this novel situation. Underwood International College, meanwhile, is no exception. While many classes are being conducted real-time though Zoom, the now-famous video conferencing program, some professors have opted to deliver their lectures through videos or, in the case of classes like Western Civilization, through PowerPoint presentations with voice recordings embedded within the slides.

Now, many have already resigned themselves to a semester’s worth of cyber lectures. However, it certainly does not mean that we are pleased with it. Quite the contrary: in online communities such as Everytime and the Yonsei Bamboo Grove on Facebook, many have already voiced their disappointment. We have studied laboriously for three years, and finally, in a fitting climax to our high school career, succeeded in getting into Yonsei. We felt that we were entitled to looking forward to a year packed with fun events like Yon-ko games and AKARAKA, various extracurricular activities, stimulating seminar-like class environments, or the residential college environment. Instead what we find is oft-frustrating online lectures, work, work, and more work. In classes that do not use Zoom, attendance must be checked through quizzes and other activities. Many students have reported that the workload became too heavy even though these are supposed to serve as a means to check the attendance only. The current student council, Mate, actually ran a survey to collect such cases, and discussed them with the university.

Yet it should also be noted that the school has made some reasonable efforts to accommodate this situation. For example, the requirements for RC programmes were reduced significantly, although the extent differs from house to house. Of course, some people have pointed out that the Residential College program may be utterly devoid of meaning given that we are unlikely to ever visit Songdo in the near future, but RAs have attempted to make these programmes as fruitful and relevant as possible, despite the direness of the situation. Some of the RC programmes from Allen House include coding, body fitness classes, running a blog, and special lectures from Yonsei alumni. These activities can certainly operate successfully despite the fact that we’re confined to cyberspace for the time being.

Underwood International College, too, is trying to ease the freshmen’s transition from high school to university. RC 101 Sessions, designed to introduce students to UIC, UIC-exclusive features, and their respective majors, are being carried out during the first semester. Among them, HASS RC 101 held a major information session prepared by upperclassmen and student councils of each major. What’s more, you can now hold UIC Writing Center sessions through Zoom meetings. Fully making use of these programmes will hopefully help UIC freshmen in adjusting to university life, even outside the traditional classroom setting.

According to recent announcements, the summer semester is also going to be conducted all online. Indeed, it remains unclear when exactly the class of 2020 would be able to begin their studies in Yonsei University proper, instead of within their homes. So far, my experience as a freshman of the first semester was nothing like what I had anticipated for. It would be a blatant lie if I say it did not disappoint, and I dare say this would be the case for many of my classmates. But like most things in life, the COVID-19 crisis will also be what we make of it, as we spend our next four years in Underwood International College. As the old saying goes: all’s well that ends well, so hopefully our college dreams lie waiting at the end of this shaky start.

The UIC Scribe was founded in 2006 as the official student-run newsmagazine of Underwood International College. It celebrates diversity of thinking, excellence in writing, and the freedom of self-expression.

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