Grace - Korea University

B Science
Semester 2, 2022


I always knew I wanted to go on exchange and when they offered the first global experience after Covid I immediately took the chance. I was tossing up between going to the UK - where I was had family there that I could rely on if I had any issues but I wouldn't be out of my comfort zone or go somewhere I knew no one and would have to face all challenges on my own. It ended up not being a difficult choice, I wanted a novel experience and had been studying Korean for a year already so I decided to take the risk.

Personal Development

I am so glad I took the chance to challenge myself and gain this absolutely unique experience. As it was my first time living alone I had to learn how to cook, shop, clean and live independently - which I thought I knew how to before but it's very different when the food sold in shops is different. I gained friendships with like-minded people from all across the globe who I still talk to everyday and am going to see in a couple months! Being in a new country is daunting, but being around so many other people in the same situation really helped. I was lucky enough to enrol in two Korean language classes and make friends in my language exchange club which was really integral in gaining the confidence to practice the language. Whilst you can definitely get by without knowing any Korean and many people did, learning the basics really makes the trip more enjoyable.

Academic Development

The most difficult part about the different academic system was the subject enrolment. I didn't get into the classes I wanted in the 1st or 2nd round and got some of them in the 2nd week of semester. I ended up taking 2x psych courses that I needed for credit and 4x courses for general credit which ranged from economics to Korean culture so be careful if you're trying to get lots of credit courses. I found the workload to be lighter and assessment easier compared to UQ but they did grade on a curve which was confusing at first. I went on exchange in my last semester so I had a lot of pressure to pass the subjects. However more importantly, going in my last semester affected enrolling into honours as my transcript didn't arrive until after enrolment. Luckily as I couldn't go any earlier due to Covid I had an exception but I wouldn't recommend going in your last semester unless you're comfortable deferring honours for a year.

Professional Development

Through this experience, I have learnt to be confident and open to any opportunity that comes my way. By meeting so many new people I have definitely improved my social skills with people I may not immediately think to have lots in common. You make connections with people even when you return home as this experience gives a great insight to how other countries and cultures work. This experience has really helped boost my resume and even helped me get the job I currently have.


I worked a lot before the trip and saved enough money so that I didn't have to limit myself while overseas so on average I spent $300-$400 a week including food, shopping and transport. As I needed to buy bedding/cubbies/cleaning supplies for my room, new clothes as the ones I brought were not weather appropriate this meant I spent a lot of money in the first 2 months. Additionally, I went to a lot of concerts and trips around Korea so you don't need to spend this much to live in Seoul. I didn't spend much on groceries as my accommodation provided some free food and fruit, vegetables and meat are very expensive. So mainly I ate out as meals typically were ~$10.


I was lucky enough to receive the New Colombo Mobility Grant which gave me $7000 towards this experience. This helped my cover flights (~$2500), accommodation (~$850/month) and additional fees applying for visa and application. As UQ applied for this on behalf of me it was a very easy process that I'm extremely grateful for.


Initially I applied for CJ dorm but didn’t get in. I did visit once and it looked really clean and bigger than I thought however they do have stricter rules (no visitors, a strike system) and because there are so many people it’s harder to get to know others. I ended up in a Goshiwon (Coco Livingtel) just across the street from KU where there were 40 of us in the building which we all ended up being really good friends by the end. The landlord was nice and provided free rice, eggs, pasta, ramyeon and bread. However, do expect the rooms to be very small, I paid $850 AUD a month for one of the nicer rooms with a bathroom, window and a bigger bed but you could get rooms without bathrooms and windows for around $500 a month (although you might get mould).


The highlight of the experience was definitely being present in my day to day life. Every day was different - I was either going out with friends, studying at a cute cafe, doing activities with my club, going away for the weekend etc. Even in the dull days there was always something new or fun to experience and be grateful for. I made some really good friends through this experience as well and we are even catching up again in Korea in a couple of months.

Advice/Top Tips

It's going to be awkward at first, you can't help it. Meeting other students, walking into a class and realising you're the only foreigner, getting on the wrong subway - it's all apart of the experience. It's really helpful to step out of your comfort zone and talk to new people and sign up to clubs as you meet lots of interesting people that way. Say yes to as many experiences as well and don't stay in your dorm room all day!