Being on Crutches at Hanyang

During my stay at Beopjusa Temple (법주사), I had an unfortunate accident where I damaged a ligament. I was taking a jumping photo, and I landed on my left knee wrong, heard a pop, and had to go to the hospital. At my visit at Hanyang International Hospital (한양대학교 국제병원), they told me I likely damaged my ligament and needed to wear a splint for two weeks and have my leg pretty much straight for these past two weeks. During this time, I was on crutches, and it was rather difficult to move around. I really experienced Hanyang in a very different way after this incident, and I wanted to share some observations.

Since I was on crutches, it was very tiring and hard to get around. If you have not noticed, Hanyang University (한양대학교) is built on very steep hills and there are many stairs to get to class. Since I live in International House and attend class in the business building, I have to climb quite a few stairs just to get to class. There really is not a way to avoid this, and if there was, I never found out about it. When you climb stairs with crutches, you must take each stair with your good leg when going up.  When going down, you step with your bad leg on each step. Now, doing this with a few steps is not so bad; however, when there are 20 or more steps, this can be very tiring. Knowing of a shortcut to avoid the stairs would have been very useful.

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The next thing I noticed was usage of elevators. There are elevators marked as handicapped, but the only real difference I saw in these elevators were that there were buttons about waist level to aid with people who might not be able to lift their arms up. Also with the elevators, if there are two elevators and one is marked handicapped, you have to click both buttons for both elevators to show which direction you want to go. For example, in the business building, there are three elevators. One is marked handicapped and the other two are not. If you click the up button for the handicap elevator to come, the up button for the other two elevators will not also be marked for up. This is a bit of a hassle when taking a few steps takes more effort than usual. One good tip I learned is that if you need to go from the business building to the side of campus where Hanyang Plaza (한양플라자) is, you can go to the Cyber Café (사이버대학교 까페)and take the elevator to the 4th floor. Here, you can exit the elevator and easily find the exit to the building which will lead you right to the parking lot in front of the CU. This will help you avoid the upwards hill!


Next, the doors and some of the classroom seats are not handicapped friendly. Most of the doors on campus open via hinges, therefore you need to use your arms to open them. As far as I could tell, the only door I saw on campus which was automatic was the door going into the hospital. While I know one door is normally unlocked and the other door is locked to keep the air conditioned air inside, it can be really inconvenient to open the door when both of your arms are using crutches. As for classroom seating, there are some classrooms where the chairs are fixed to the table. Because I needed to have my leg elevated during class, it made it very difficult to get in and out of these chairs. At my home university, when the chairs are fixed, there is at least one chair in the classroom that is not fixed to the desk to allow for handicap accessibility.

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Lastly, there is a lack of large spaced bathroom stalls. The only bathroom I can remember having a stall large enough is on the ground floor of Hanyang Plaza across from the convenience store. Since my leg was in a splint, it had a hard material on the backside of my leg which ran from about halfway down my thigh to the bottom of my calf. This made it really hard to use the toilet because I had to stick my leg straight and often times I would have to find creative ways to sit in order to fit in the stall. If someone in a wheelchair needed access to a toilet, they would have a hard time finding an appropriate stall.

While I understand some of these problems are hard to fix, like the number of stairs and the fact that Hanyang is on a hill, but I do think there are improvements that could be made to help handicapped students. For example, showing routes that would help students avoid stairs or some sort of car service that could help with transporting students. I was only on crutches for two weeks and could still use my bad leg, but I can imagine how difficult it must be to get around campus if you were incapable of using one of your limbs or needed wheelchair access.


Article by Catherine from the U.S.A.

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