Reflections – Lucy

Hi guys! So, this is my final blog for the semester! I had my last exam a few weeks ago and I am still waiting for my grades. I still have a few weeks ‘til I leave South Korea and I am going to make sure I travel, eat and shop a lot during my remaining time. Since this last blog post should be a wrap up of the few months being here, I will first start with a summary of my highs and lows and then my final thoughts.

 

Highs

Almost every moment of my stay here in South Korea was a high for me. Studying at Yonsei was different but it was great. The food here is cheap and delicious. Travelling was my favourite part though. I made myself busy almost every weekend to travel around South Korea. That way, I did the most travelling I ever did for four months in my entire life. Every Friday night, I would be excited planning for the weekends and considering where to go next. I especially enjoyed going to historical landmarks and I loved listening to the explanations of meanings of monuments, buildings and artefacts. I really developed an interest in Korean culture and history and my understanding of South Korea is now of a whole different level. This was one of my biggest goals when first coming here and I am really proud to say I have achieved it successfully.

lucy_6.1.jpg
MBC Broadcasting Station, Ilsan

lucy_6-2.jpg

SeoDaemun Prison Museum: where Korean liberation activists were imprisoned during the Japanese Colonial Period

lucy_6-3.jpg
Korean Independence Gate
lucy_6.4
CheonggyeCheon River

Lows

I found it really difficult to pick the lows during my stay. But one thing that did really stress me out was studying in Korean! As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, I took three papers at Yonsei and out of the three papers, I took one course in Korean and the other two in English. The Korean taught course was a pretty difficult course as it concerned Public Economics. I really struggled learning economic jargons in Korean and understanding the Korean Economy and past and current government policies regarding public economics. This course was obviously the most difficult for me and I spent most of my study time studying for this course. I personally recommend you all to take courses in English unless you are very fluent and confident in the foreign language. Korean is my mother tongue language and I speak fluent Korean so I assumed it would not be different from studying in English. However, learning about Public Economics in Korean was definitely the biggest challenge for me. I did see a huge improvement in my understanding of the Korean Economy and I did develop a higher level of Korean vocabulary. So, I guess all the hard work did pay off after all!

lucy_6-5.jpg
Study Notes for my Korean taught course
lucy_6.6
“Write myself a Letter” Booth

Final Thoughts

I remember the first day of Yonsei University, when I was late for my first class and had no idea where the lecture room was. At that moment, it really hit me that I was in a completely different environment surrounded by complete strangers. I remember how scared I was then. Nevertheless, as I made friends and as the campus got more familiar, it really felt like home.

Staying in South Korea for the past few months was amazing. It was a big step out of my comfort zone and it really helped me learn so much about not only South Korea but about myself too. Living in a completely different environment really motivates you to see yourself and your life in a different perspective. I hope anybody (and everybody) reading my blog posts are now more motivated to try out this amazing 360 exchange opportunity!

lucy_6-7.jpg
Korean Street Food (Less than NZ$15 for the whole lot)
lucy_6.8
Changdeokgung Palace

Any Questions? Contact Me!

If you guys have any questions about studying in Yonsei or South Korea, feel free to contact me via my email: lucyoh1224@gmail.com

I will have lots of tips on how to study at Yonsei and some good ideas on what to do to make the most of your stay in South Korea!

Final Good Bye!

I am actually now heading to Singapore in a few weeks. I have applied for a consecutive one semester exchange programme at Nanyang Technological Institute in Singapore. I won’t be writing for the 360 ambassadors blog during my stay in Singapore, but if any of you are coming to Singapore this semester or if any of you have any questions about exchange study at Singapore, then feel free to email me too! Thank you guys so much for reading my blogs and all the best for all the opportunities ahead of you!

Adobe Spark (6)

Places to Visit in South Korea – Lucy

One of the biggest reasons I chose to go on exchange was because I wanted to travel. Growing up in New Zealand, I never had a good chance to travel around South Korea – my home country – very much. Since I had four months to stay and study here this time, I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to travel a lot. Hence, throughout the semester, I travelled not only in Seoul but other parts of the country too. This is a list of my personal favourites: a top five pick of places to visit in South Korea!

#5 Herb Island
This place is not the usual recommendation you get from doing a similar google search, but I thought it was essential for us to get access to some green stuff. Although Yonsei is located in central Seoul, my accommodation during my stay was Ilsan, which is part of KyungKi-do. South Korea is a very developed country full of skyscrapers and heaps of people. A few weeks into the semester, I started missing the green clean New Zealand reserves, so I made frequent visits to a nearby reserve (which is very rare to find in Korea – and especially Seoul and KyungKi-do) called Herb Island. As suggested by the name, this reserve is full of herb trees, flowers and farm animals. I heard there are actually quite a few of these so-called herb islands out of Seoul. Some of them require you to pay for the entry ticket at the entrance, some places are free of charge. These reserves offer not only trees and fresh air, but also nice coffee and restaurants where you can enjoy a relaxing brunch! If you miss New Zealand during your stay, I recommend you to visit Herb Island.

#4 Itaewon
Itaewon is located in the very centre of Seoul and is well known for its diversity and youthful energy. I heard that the U.S. army headquarters is located somewhere near here and so there a lot of foreigners around. (Not only those who serve for the military of course!) Itaewon is a hub of multicultural spirit in the relatively uni-cultural South Korea. Even the restaurants and the retail stores portray diversity in that cuisines from all over the world can be tasted and you can get by without speaking a word of Korean 🙂

#3 GyeongBok-Gung
I made my first visit to GyeongBok-Gung on my first week in South Korea. GyeongBok-Gung is where the old kings and queens used to live so all the buildings are traditionally and beautifully built. It is really odd though, because the GyeongBok-Gung palace is the only traditional building in the area and the whole place is surrounded by skyscrapers and big roads. You can also see a lot of tourists walking around in “Hanbok”- the Korean traditional dress. There are a lot of “Hanbok” rentals around this area that offers Handbok rentals for a cheap price. GyeongBok-Gung is only a five to ten-minute walk to GwangHwamun where the big protest was held a few years back to impeach the ex-president Park. There are usually are lot of events or activities going on in this area. There is almost like a festival theme for every week you come. Last time I went, there was a little temporary telephone booth, which instead of having a telephone, had a memo pad and pens for people to write letters instead of calling their friends and family. This analogue thing is a growing trend in South Korea. Ironically, now that we have technology and convenienve, people are wanting to turn back time to the old days.

#2 Nam-de-moon and Dong-de-moon shopping centre
South Korea is really famous for its shopping culture. It is an absolute must for tourists to visit famous fashion hubs like Myung-Dong, Hong-Dae, Dong-de-moon and more. But if you’re a serious shopper looking for some quality things for a cheap price – I recommend Nam-de-moon and Dong-De-moon. Both places are located in central Seoul – so it is very easy to get there by public transport. The two places are a little different though in that Nam-de-moon is famous for its varied product lines – you can get anything in Nam-de-moon, literally anything. Whereas, Dong-de-moon concentrates more on fashion and accessories. You have to bring cash with you to make good deals, but it is also important to be careful of pickpockets! (South Korea is usually free of pickpockets but Nam-de-moon and Dong-de-moon are obvious targets because everybody carries around cash!) The shops are almost like little booths and things are literally stacked to minimize space.

#1 Jeon-Ra Do
My number one pick would definitely be Jeon-Ra Do. First reason being is this was my very first visit to Jeon-Ra Do (It takes 4 to 5 hours to get to Jeon-Ra do from Seoul). Second reason being is probably because of the food and people! Jeon-Ra Do is very famous for its food! Food is relatively cheap, the portions are bigger and the taste is better! I made a one night two day stay in Jeon-Ra Do, so I had some time to look around some historical landmarks of the place too. I visited Jeon-Dong Catholic church, which is the very first church built in Jeon-Ju City and the Korean traditional buildings (Han-ok) Village. I also visited Gwang-ju public memorial to commemorate those who died during the 5.18 Gwang-ju Uprising.

These are my top five picks for places to visit in South Korea. I still have exams going on at the moment and I have been quite busy with school stuff and study for the last few weeks. So I am planning to make the most of my time after my exams to do more travelling around South Korea.

Adobe Spark (6)

 

Campus Life – Lucy

We are now into week 12 of our lectures here at Yonsei and we are nearly heading to the end of the semester. May is a special month of the year for South Koreans. It is known as the “family” month. All public holidays relating to family and friends are gathered in the month of May, including children’s day, parent’s day, teacher’s day, adults’ day and even Buddha’s birthday.

lucy_4
Picture of Underwood Building

Events

Campus life here is amazing because of the fun school spirit. Just last week, the school held the annual AKARAKA festival. AKARAKA is one of the biggest events in Yonsei, it is a school wide festival for students where clubs and faculties within the school get together and sell food and promote the school. The school also invites popular bands and celebrities to come to the school for a big joint concert. You need to reserve your place for a seat at this concert, however. The price is 13,000 KRW (17.30 NZD) which is very cheap for a concert like this! It’s no surprise that getting a seat at the AKARAKA concert is very competitive which is why I couldn’t go!

The school also holds another massive event in semester two called “Yon-Go Jeon” or “Go-Yon Jeon”. Apparently, Korea University and Yonsei University have been rivals for a long time in history, and so every year, they hold a sports competition. Anybody coming to Yonsei or Korea University next semester could watch the sports competition and participate in some of the games.

Academics

The school is very strict in terms of attendance. I think this is the same for all South Korean Universities. All students are expected to attend every class and when you do not have a legitimate reason for not attending, the lecturer will deduct points from your grade. In some lecture rooms we have a digital card scanner, so every time we come to class we tag our ID card on the machine which checks our attendance. In some classes, lecturers give us a new four-digit number every time we come into class in which we enter into a special app called Y-attend, and that checks our attendance. Anyhow, although it depends on the lecturer, attendance is considered to be very important as it is indicative of how studious and diligent you are. Missing out on 1/3 of classes would mean an automatic fail grade.

Yonsei University is a Christian School. This is because the founder of the University was an American Missionary. Regular students of Yonsei University are required to attend a certain number of Chapel sessions before graduation. Because I am an exchange student, I am not required to attend any. There is a very big Hall where the chapel is held, and the students are designated seats for each session.

lucy_4.1
Picture of the school church hall

Campus Facilities

Yonsei University has a very big and beautiful campus. There are so many buildings in a very large campus ground, so it is very easy to get completely lost. I recommend future Yonsei exchange students to always carry a map with them in the first few days of school. There is a school cafeteria, which I did mention in one of my earlier posts, which offers great food for very good prices. There is a separate very beautiful building for foreign/exchange students. Inside the building, there are convenience stores, small restaurants, bookstores and a big lounge for students.

lucy_4.4
Picture of Songdo Campus

There is the central library and Samsung library for students. In order to get into this building, we are required to tag our ID cards and the electronic door would let us in that way. Also, the library has very strict rules. We are not allowed to eat or drink anything in the library but water. Laptops can only be used in designated areas and we have to reserve seats using the school app or a kiosk machine before we find a seat to study. The library is completely silent, however there are group meeting rooms that available for us to reserve and use.

lucy_4.5
Picture of school campus grounds

The school also offers shuttle buses within the Sinchon Campus where most students stay and shuttle buses to and from Songdo – another campus in Incheon. Shuttle buses are open for reservation and can only be used for reserved students and they are completely free of charge. I went on the school shuttle bus once just to go visit the Songdo Campus. The Songdo campus is typically for first year students because all first-year students, apart from music and dance majors, at Yonsei are required to attend the Songdo campus and live in the dorms. Songdo is less busy compared to Sinchon but very close to the airport and the sea.

There are so many activities you can enjoy here at Yonsei! Yonsei has slightly different rules from Auckland, but it is not very hard to get around because the school is very welcoming to foreign and exchange students. I recommend Yonsei to anybody who is seeking fun and diversity!

Adobe Spark (6)

Food, Glorious Food – Lucy

Hi guys! We are now half way through the semester here at Yonsei. I am taking three papers this semester, so I have three mid-semester exams spread throughout this week and next week. Some of my friends do not have mid-semester exams for some papers. Lecturers for each paper can decide on whether or not to have mid-semester exams for their taught courses. So, if you are lucky, you will only have a final exam at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, all of my lecturers decided that they would give mid-semester exams.

One big difference I noted is that we do not have a mid-semester break here at Yonsei. There is no break within the semester. The only breaks we get throughout the semester are certain public holidays like Children’s day and Buddha’s Birthday. So, we are powering through the semester with no time for chilling!

Let’s get back to the theme of this blog post, Food! Food here in South Korea is amazing. It’s not only the traditional food of Korea, but also the various different kind of fusion cuisines and foods from other cultures. Food has been the biggest happiness of my life ever since landing here. (Note: It is approximately 700-800 KRW for 1 NZD!)

lucy3.jpg
4,500 KRW Cafeteria Chicken and Cheese Gratin

I did try Yonsei’s cafeteria food. I heard that the school cafeteria is free for all primary and secondary school students. Tertiary level students need to pay to eat cafeteria food. But the price is very cheap compared to restaurant meals.

A long roll of Korean style sushi, called Kimbap, is only 1,800 KRW, which is approximately 2.50 NZD. There are a lot of options you can choose from. The campus has many cafeterias, which offer a variety of meal options for cheap prices. The menu has slight variations and the menu for each week is posted up on the school website and school app, so you can check the options before heading out to the Cafeteria. I got a chicken and cheese Gratin for only 4,500 KRW, which is only about 6 NZD! The school cafeteria is very popular so there is a huge queue to order. However, the system is very organized, so once you order you get a ticket with a number. Then, you simply wait at your table and when your number appears on the screen, you go pick your meal up.

Other than school cafeteria food, students can take a two-minute walk out of campus to streets full of restaurants. I’ve selected my top two experiences with Korean food, foreign food and dessert to show you guys.

Korean Food:

lucy3.1
33,000 KRW Tofu Stew

 

lucy3.2
22,000 KRW Spicy and Cheese Chicken

Foreign Food:

 

lucy3.3
27,000 KRW in total for all three dishes. Japanese style cuisine
lucy3.4
9,900 KRW Beef Steak and Pink Beetroot Pasta

Dessert:

lucy3.5
10,900 KRW Cotton Candy Marble Ice Cream Snow Ice

 

lucy3.6
1,000 KRW for 3 Fish-shaped Red Bean Bread

I hope I made you guys hungry and mouth-watering by now! I really recommend coming here and getting a taste of the food  here!

I wish you guys – and myself – all GOOD LUCK for upcoming tests and assignments, and I will come back with my next post about my campus life!

Adobe Spark (6)

Accommodation Awards – Lucy

As I said on my last blog post, I am not staying at the school dorm. I rent a separate little house far from campus, outside of Seoul. These little houses are called “Offistels” in South Korea. It is a combination of the two words “Office” and “Hotel” together. The place is basically a one room house with all the basics in a very small space. The “offistels” are about the size of a one room apartment in Auckland City. I pay approximately 850 NZ dollars a month for the “Offistel” but all other bills – such as electricity, water and internet – I have to pay separately.

I usually take the bus to uni, which takes approximately 30 minutes to one hour – depending on the traffic and what bus I take (there are so many options!). I could take the subway to school as well! The subway is very popular in South Korea. It takes you to almost anywhere in Seoul and KyungKi-Do. It is very fast and convenient but it is almost impossible to get a seat in the mornings so I prefer taking the bus in the mornings.

I will explain how the on-campus accommodation works at Yonsei, just in case you guys are curious about them. Yonsei’s on-campus dorms are amazing. It takes less than 5 minutes to walk to the dorm from the main campus area – but this really depends on whereabouts in the campus you are because the campus is huge – and beautiful!

There are two main dormitory buildings in Yonsei Sinchon Campus. The first one is called the International House. This building offers double rooms only – you will have to have a roommate – and there are common bathrooms on each floor. Other than that, there are various facilities including a study room, a lounge, a laundry room, a seminar room and a kitchenette. These are shared by the residents of the building. The second building is called the SK Global House. This building offers both single and double rooms and a private bathroom in each room. Compared to the International House, there are more facilities included like a Music Room and a Multi-functional room. I found that most exchange students stay in the SK Global House because it is more convenient and has more facilities.

Lucy2.2

Living in the dorms gives you access to the amazing and busy city life of South Korea. There are so many restaurants, cafes, and bars that open all night in Sinchon. Also, you will be able to make friends from all over the world by living in the dorms. The transport is so convenient so you will be able to take yourself to almost anywhere in the country. On the other hand, living off campus may be a bit cheaper, but you would be exposed to a different side of South Korea – not only the busy city but the relatively relaxed KyungKi- area. Whichever you prefer, I have no doubt you will enjoy the experience! I will come back with more exciting stories in the next one! Thanks so much for reading.

Adobe Spark (6)

First Impressions – Lucy

Hi guys! Sorry about the late update! So much has been going on here at Yonsei and I have been trying to select the best of content for this first official blog post. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the orientation session that was held on the 23rd of the last month. I only got to fly out to South Korea on the 1st of March which was the day before the first “official” start of the semester at Yonsei. Luckily, my first class started on the 5th of March because Fridays are my day offs – my timetable was set that way.

The campus

So on the morning of the 5th of March, I was up for a 9am start. Unlike Auckland University, the very first class of Yonsei starts at 9am. I first thought myself lucky because I was so sick of 8am lectures and I thought 9am would be much better. But, soon I regretted that thought of being an early bird.

Yonsei’s campus is massive and magnificent. It is beautiful! But massive and magnificent campuses are not exactly what you want when you are running late for a 9am lecture with no maps. I got off the bus, entered through the wrong gate and was wondering around at the school of engineering, thinking that was the whole school. I was soon approached by a friendly stranger, who kindly told me that I was in the opposite side of where I was supposed to be.

All the buildings in the campus are very aesthetically pleasing. They are all well-labelled with such beautiful names too.

The school has a cafeteria that is packed with students. The cafeteria offers good food for cheap prices. I got my Cheese and Chicken Gratin for only 4500won, which is only about $6!

Traffic

I am a lot different from the other exchange students in that I got my own little home to stay in Ilsan, which is on the boundary of Seoul. This means that I get to take a lovely 40-minute bus ride to School and back every morning and after class.

Although on the first week I hated myself for living out of campus, and I still do when I am standing and holding on to a little pole on a people-packed bus every morning, I am starting to appreciate that too. I feel like I am exposed to the more real side of South Korea that way.

People travel by bus, subway and taxi. Subway, being the cheapest option, is the most popular and it is impossible to get on it during rush hours. I like the buses here. There are so many bus options you can take that get you to the same place, and all the buses come every 5 to 10 minutes.

Places

I tried to make most of my day offs on Fridays and the weekends to travel and eat. So far, every weekend I have been going out with friends and family.

On the first weekend during my stay in Korea I went to Kyung Bok Goong and Jong Myo. Kyung Bok Goong is a traditional palace where the King and his Queens used to live nack in the Lee Dynasty in Josun. The place was full with foreigners as it is the most popular tourist attraction in South Korea.

Then we took a 20 minute walk over to Jong Myo. Jong Myo is a shrine in order to commemorate and pay respect to the Kings and Queens of the Lee Dynasty in Josun. This shrine is located in the central area of Seoul and could only be visited when accompanied by a tour guide. I found not only Jong Myo but also the whole street surrounding Jong Myo fascinating because many store fronts with English names were written in the Korean alphabet – even Starbucks! I heard it was in order to celebrate the Korean language.

Food

Food is AMAZING!! The food is cheap, varied and everywhere. I think it is better shown than said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Culture Shock

  • People. People. There are so many people here. The geographical size of South Korea is about one third of New Zealand, but there are more than 12 times the population size. Seoul alone has more than twice the entire population of New Zealand. Everywhere I go is full of people.
  • So many things to eat, buy and see. There are so many “things” in South Korea. So many options when I go shopping, eating and sight-seeing.
  • Iced Americanos instead of Flat Whites and Latte. It is freezing cold here but people enjoy iced drinks. Especially, iced Americanos! It is a national favourite! I go to a Café, and Americanos are the first and best-selling thing on the menu. I am a Flat white lover, and I found two Cafés with Flat whites out of literally twenty Cafés I have been so far.

So much has been going on during the past two weeks. I am so excited to come back with even more interesting stories to share! xx

Best Regards,

Adobe Spark (6)

South Korea

Auckland Abroad has three incredible partners in South Korea : Korea University (U21), Seoul National University, Yonsei University. All of these partners offer courses in English and there are many study opportunities to choose from. Learning the language is not nessecary but a pre-semester or semester language course is recommended.

youjung-lee_korea-university-1163-1

South Korea is highly urbanised and is distinguished by high rise buildings and sophisticated cities. With a population more than ten times the size of New Zealand, South Korea offers constant entertainment and excitement. To learn more about what it’s like to be an Auckland Abroad student in South Korea let’s hear from our returned outbound students!

“If anyone is thinking of going on exchange to South Korea- which they definitely should, Yonsei is definitely a great choice! This is because the campus is amazingly beautiful, it was the first university in Korea, and the location in the city of the university is the best” – Sonja Rose, Yonsei University

“Life in Korea is very busy. There were many different restaurants, shopping malls, cafes and entertainment places wherever I went, which I found very convenient. The food and shopping in Korea was very cheap. I loved the various food choices and the small clothing shops that I passed by everyday when getting on subways. The transport was also very convenient. There were buses, subways and taxis that could take me anywhere around Korea, and they were cheap.” – So Hee Kwon, Seoul National University

stella-kim_seoul-national-university-1163-3

jessica-lim_yonsei-1135-3

On orietation/buddies:

“When I first arrived at the host university, everything was new and unfamiliar. All the systems at the university were totally different from The University of Auckland but I really enjoyed it. The campus was so big that I had to ride a bus to move from one building to another one. Orientation was really fun. Aside from basic information about school and academic life, they actually introduced the culture of the country, for example, what I should be aware of in the bus or subway or even in the public toilet for example, these were things that I didn’t know before!”- Hearin Cho, Seoul National University

“Before the semester began we had an orientation day, when we made our Korean bank account and student ID card and were provided with other living information. Each exchange student has a Korea University buddy that was so helpful. They helped us to adapt to university life because they let us know locations, good restaurants etc. I think my exchange at Korea University was so successful because I made a lot of Korean friends in the clubs that I joined. We went to see cherry blossom, enjoyed ‘IPSELENTI’ Korea University festival and so on.” – Youjung Lee, Korea University

ailin-liu_yonsei-1153-1

“Because of the buddy system that they had at Seoul National University (SNU), I was fully informed about what to do and how to do it by my personal buddy, who gave me essential information”- Minjung Kim, Soeoul National University

“Throughout the semester, many university events and concerts starring K-pop stars were held within the campus. These were the perfect opportunities to experience the university’s unique atmosphere.” – Sungil Hwang, Yonsei University

“I was lucky enough to meet amazing people within the first few days of being on exchange, where you mainly meet people at orientation and around the dorms. Because food is so delicious and cheap in Korea, almost every night you just needed to find another person around dinner time and bam, you have a new friend to go out and eat with.”  – Sonja Rose, Yonsei University

“A month before the semester started, I was contacted by a student organisation called Korea University Buddy Assistants (KUBA). KUBA was a student run buddy system who help exchange students settle in and organise events for them. KUBA held events such as orientation, field day and also helped exchange students buy tickets during the annual university festival week. They also held weekly lunches, dinners and outings every weekend which would have been really helpful to those exchange students who did not speak any Korean and didn’t know many Korean people yet” – Jasmine Choi, Korea University

On housing:

“I stayed at CJ International House Korea University Dormitory for one semester the dorm was really nice it was new and it has convenient facilities such as laundry room, gym and study rooms” – Youjung Lee, Korea University

stella-kim_seoul-national-university-1163-2

“There are two halls of residence that exchange students can apply  for: International House and SK Global House. Both are quite far from the main university buildings and Downtown. If you are willing to sacrifice the size of your room for accessibility, a private ‘one-room rent (go-si-won)’ located in front of the south gate of Yonsei University could be a better option. I lived in one before the semester starts and I personally had a better living experience in ‘go-si-won’ than the housing provided by the International Office. Also, the cost of the necessities clothes, food and shelter, is relatively cheap!” – Sungil Hwang, Yonsei University

 

“During my first semester abroad, I stayed at the university accommodations. However, the rooms were a little bit different from what I had expected. Some rooms were extremely cramped with five people sharing one bathroom, while others had two people to one bathroom. Some rooms had living rooms attached while others didn’t, and some double rooms had bunk beds while others did not. The dormitory was also located at the top
of a hill located more than 1km away from the campus. In semester two, due to the major influx of new students coming in from America and Canada, previous students were asked to move out. As a result, I moved into a studio room closer to the university which ended up being much cleaner and cheaper than living in the dorms.” – Jasmine Choi, Korea University
On campus life:
“The Seoul National University campus was very different to that of The University of Auckland. The campus was so big that I had to ride buses or taxis within the campus to get to other buildings. Within the campus, there were convenient stores, student cafeterias, cafes and restaurants. There were student cafeterias that had different menus every day, which included Korean food as well as other International food. Also, there were many restaurants in the campus that I had seen outside, in the city, before. They were all price friendly for students” – So Hee Kwon, Seoul National University

On classes:

“The lecture style was similar to the University of Auckland but each lecture had participation marks. The campus was really large and each building was gorgeous. Every facility was always tidy and clean and everything you need could be found on the basement floor such as the book store, restaurants, library and cafe etc.” – Youjung Lee, Korea University stella-kim_seoul-national-university-1163-4

“The professors at the home university were very kind and warm-hearted. They welcome exchange students, even if you take courses that exchange students don’t usually take. Of course, you should be quite fluent to take courses in Korean, but I grew up in Korea when I was under ten, so I knew how to speak in Korean. Here is a tip:  it is very handy to learn bits of the language of the country where you will exchange to if you are going overseas to non-English speaking country!” – Minjung Kim, Soeoul National University

“The courses were pretty much the same as at The University of Auckland, but the professors were slightly different in the style of their teaching. Most of them were just dictating the materials of the topics unlike here, where the lecturers teach everything step by step.” – Hearin Cho, Seoul National University

“Enrolment into courses was quite difficult as it is very competitive in Korea. Surprisingly, many of the courses run in English only had four or five exchange students in it, with the rest of the class being regular Korean students. However, once I was enrolled, the courses were quite similar to the courses here, and professors were always more than happy to help.” – Jasmine Choi, Korea University

 

On food:

“Just right in front of the campus there were so many cheap and delicious restaurants – the price is approx.  $8 and above. I love Korean food so I was so happy having a chance to enjoy delicious food.” – Youjung Lee, Korea University

ailin-liu_yonsei-1153-4

On travel:

“I think the highlight of my exchange was that I travelled to such beautiful places in Seoul with my friends. I found out that the Korea subway is so convenient to travel around Seoul and the bus was easy as well. You can travel everywhere you want by bus or subway!” – Youjung Lee, Korea University

“Seoul, the capital city of Korea, was always full of people and traffic, but I only used subway stations to get somewhere, so it wasn’t a problem for me. As mentioned earlier, there was a buddy programme which gave me lots of chance to travel around and experience what it’s like to live in Korea, so don’t worry, your travel plans will be sorted if you just stick to your new friends when you get there” – Minjung Kim, Soeoul National University

“While I was away in Korea I visited Japan and I was surprised by how much more active, busy and how many more events there were in Seoul compared to Tokyo. Seoul really is the best, you won’t get bored as long as you aren’t afraid and just go out of your room. Getting out of the city to see other parts of Korea is also of course a must, with trips to the North Korean border, Busan, Jeju Island, Gwangju and Sokcho all offering amazing views and long histories. South Korea is considerably closer to the rest of the world than New Zealand is, so being there is a good opportunity to do some other travelling while you are close to the rest of Asia. Some friends of mine travelled to places like China, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and more.” – Sonja Rose, Yonsei University

ailin-liu_yonsei-1153-3

“During the year, I did quite a lot of travelling as I did not have class on Friday’s for both semesters. Travelling domestically in Korea is extremely easy as public transportation is so easily accessible. During the inter-semester break, I also took advantage of the fact that I was in Asia and travelled to other nearby countries such as Japan.” – Jasmine Choi, Korea University

gwan-ho-lee_snu-1135-1ailin-liu_yonsei-1153-2

Top tips:

  • Some of my friends went to Korea with no knowledge at all of Korean language, and they survived fine
  • I recommend people at least learn the Korean alphabet because it is so easy, if you don’t know Korean you can still get around and do things
  •  You can take a language course at the university if you want to immerse yourself even further
  • The cost of living compared to Auckland was so much cheaper
  • Korean food is delicious and easy to access
  • Keep busy and don’t worry too much about doing things wrong