Bridie - Yonsei University

B Business Management/Arts
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

I studied Korean and US Relations, Macroeconomics and the Korean Language Intensive (KLI) program.
The biggest change for me was that all classes have compulsory attendance, which for an aussie student can be quite confronting. If you miss more than 30% of class it is an automatic fail. Some classes are stricter than others, for example KLI, you can miss up to 16 classes and when it is every weekday for 13 weeks it can seem like very little time off. So, if you're planning to travel make sure you really think about taking KLI because it is intensive and gives you little time to travel. One particularly good thing about Yonsei classes is that other than participation the lectures are not strict at all. Even exams and assessment are very casual and depend entirely on your lecturer. Key tip; look at practice tests and lecturer test notes because its very similar to what’s on the test! Other than this, the layout of the classes at Yonsei are not too different to UQ. The difficulty is quite low for exchange student courses, however for courses related to your major it can be quite difficult and takes self-learning to a whole new level. There are no ECPs or criteria sheets; or is uncommon to find one. Also, make sure you have a lot of backups for classes, because it can get very complicated setting up a timetable or classes actually available for exchange and in English.

Personal experience

During the four months in Korea, I became best friends with plenty of exchange students from all over; predominantly the Netherlands, America, and Canada. Honestly, I can't wait to see them again and we have already planned trips to each other’s home countries. 

In Korea I explored Namsan beach, Busan, and Jeju Island. I cannot recommend enough to take the time and enjoy traveling around Korea. Seoul is the most beautiful city. It is constantly buzzing with excitement, good food, and night life. I would live there again in a heart-beat. One minute you are exploring Myeongdong and the next your at the gates of a historical palace. I believe I have become a much more confident as adapting to an Asian country which doesn’t speak much English can be difficult. Pro tip: try all of the Korean food because it is amazing; very cheap too. Western food can be hit or miss; don’t eat in Hongdae unless it’s at Churro 101. 
Transport is so easy, highly recommend the trains and try avoid being on the roads (takes longer due to traffic). If your goal is to speak Korean, it will be way easier to pick up in Korea. The Korean people take the whole burden of the communication barrier; so don’t worry if you only know English and will be ecstatic when you do attempt to speak Korean.

Accommodation

I lived in Sinchon, around 10 minute work from Yonsei. The building was called 42Share (Yonsei Building). It was a beautiful building where I lived in a single room, which had a fridge, floor heating, air-conditioning, and a private bathroom and shower and was about $1000 per month. Shared Kitchen and washers. At different locations apartments have their own kitchen and washers but further from Yonsei. I would recommend living off campus as the dorms are at the back on Yonsei campus which is far away from everything. I had friends who lived there and didn’t give the best reviews.  A lot of my friends who were in the share rooms had some problems with their roommates, so if you've never shared a room before  don't risk it. Living in Sinchon means that your only 5 minutes or less from plenty of restaurants, bars, karaoke and every kind of shop you need. Right next to Sinchon in Ewha University area. Lots of cute cafes and really cheap food and clothes (REALLY CHEAP). Sinchon is also just one station away from Hongdae, which is full of restaurants (don’t recommend) and clothing shops from really cheap to better quality, not to mention the roads are lined with buskers, dancers. By night it becomes one of the busiest night areas in Seoul; Itaewon and Gangnam too. Sinchon is also on the green (2) train line, which gets you to the best places (Hongdae, Myeongdong, Gangnam, ect.) If your prepared to pay a bit more I definitely recommend living off campus, but make sure your near other students; all my best friends lived in the same building.

Costs

During my 4 months in Korea I spent about $9000, including travel, rent, food, and transport. Rent was around $1000 a month, and I'd say I spent about $100 a week on food or less if you eat at the cafeteria ($3 per meal). Although it's possible to cook, it is actually cheap to buy out. This is because most fruit and vege is imported, so is super expensive. The prices for food in a restaurant ranges depending on what kind of food you like, but, for traditional Korean restaurant it would cost around $5-$8, whereas, western food is more expensive at around $10~$15. If you're a fan of barbecue there's also lots of restaurants that do unlimited meat and side dishes for around $10. Don’t forget the cafes! Some of the best treats I’ve ever had.  In terms of transport, it will only cost you about $2-4 each way to university from basically anywhere else in Seoul. I recommend buying a T-Money card, Korea go card, from any convenience store when you get to Korea; top up available at train station or convivence stores. During my time in Korea I also travelled a lot and the tickets can very depending on the transport you take; flight, train, or bus. For example, to Jeju it is much easier to just catch a flight; around $75. To Busan, buses are around $20 for 6 hours or a bullet train for $60 for 3 hours.

Challenge

The biggest challenge was probably going to a country by myself which didn't speak English. I overcame this by just doing it and learning some basic Korean before I left.

Professional Development

My time abroad in Korea really improved both my confidence and people skills. I have become much more confident socially and have made friends globally. Additionally, I can now speak moderate Korean!

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was making the friends I did. The bond that is created abroad through shared experience of partying, travelling, surviving university and KLI and eating way to much Korean fried chicken has made friendships I hope last a lifetime. Traveling to Busan and Jeju was also an amazing experience.

Top tips

•Wherever you end up staying, talk to people as soon as you get there and add them on Facebook or Kakaotalk so you don't lose them! Everyone is just as new and nervous as you. The first people I talked to ended being 5 of my closest friends in Korea. Don't become a recluse!!!
•It's okay to take days off and travel! You’re on exchange for a reason. 
•Being so close to Japan and China gives you an opportunity to travel for relatively cheap. I went to Japan and Singapore at the end of my trip. 
•When you get there, you will have to apply for an Alien registration card which registers your legality in Korea. You will need many documents; like passport, photos and acceptance letter from Yonsei. The earlier you do it the better. YOU only have 90 days from when you first arrive!
•Say yes to everything!