Sari - Yonsei University

B Arts / B International Hotel and Tourism Management
Semester 2, 2022
Go for it! If you are considering, do not hesitate to apply, it really is an opportunity of a lifetime.


From learning the foundations of the Korean language at UQ, I wished to further my studies at Yonsei University in South Korea. I also wished to explore the country during my free time, and enjoy the countless events the city offered, all the while expanding my knowledge of both Korea and its culture, and the Korean language. More generally, I knew exchange was an opportunity of a lifetime that I definitely did not want to miss out on.

Personal Development

Making new friends is an obvious part of any exchange, but I truly underestimated the significance of constantly meeting new people whilst abroad. During my final days of exchange, when the academic semester had officially ended and students were leaving for their homes one by one, I cried almost every day haha. It was devastating having to say goodbye to everyone. One semester may seem like a short time, but it is certainly enough time to make life-long unforgettable friends. However, I learnt so much from the friends I made during my stay in Korea. With so many people from so many different backgrounds, I was learning new things every day; not just about Korea, but also about the cultures and knowledge shared by my friends.

Academic Development

For anyone taking the Intensive Korean Language Classes, I would like to warn that the structure of language learning is entirely different to Korean language classes at UQ. The most fundamental difference is that in the intensive classes, Korean is taught in Korean, not in English. Not every student in the class is fluent in English and many of the teachers may not be able to speak English, so naturally the main language being spoken is Korean. It was difficult to get accustomed to at first, as each time we learned a new phrase or word, a translation was not provided, and it was described using other Korean phrases or words. At first, I would search up and note the English translation, but as the semester went on I simply gave on the translations altogether and my notes were written entirely in Korean. This helped shift my learning perspective dramatically, which in turn facilitated the rapid improvement of my Korean as I was encouraged to communicate everything in Korean without having English as a backup. I was placed in level 5, but I heard this was also the case for students in level 1, where teachers taught predominantly in Korean and for the most part did not speak in English.

Professional Development

One skill that I developed during my experience that could contribute to my professional development and future employability is my significant improvement in Korean. Taking Intensive Korean Classes at Yonsei University helped tremendously in achieving this. Additionally, living in South Korea for a semester did wonders in boosting my confidence in speaking in another language. Having to interact with locals on a day-to-day basis in an unfamiliar language taught me to scrap my insecurity and timidity, and simply go for it. Being afraid to speak out loud in case mistakes are made is often a common concern for many learning a second or third language. After staying in Korea for a while, I learned that the best way to learn quickly was by accepting that I will make mistakes, but I won’t be able to learn if I didn’t have the courage to make them in the first place.


Costs depend predominantly on what activities you choose to partake in throughout your exchange. If you want to travel, both within South Korea and abroad to countries close by, you will need to budget and plan accordingly. Even if in the beginning you have no plans on travelling whilst on exchange, oftentimes you will meet and make new friends who will encourage and persuade you to travel with them.


I was extremely fortunate to receive a Destination Australia Cheung Kong Scholarship toward my exchange. Students who are accepted for exchange programs within certain Asian countries are automatically considered, and registration or application for this scholarship is not necessary. The scholarship helped tremendously in funding towards my exchange abroad. The funding was used for dormitory fees (about $3400), public transportation within Korea, food, and other necessities. A portion of the funding also went toward settling in. Going on exchange essentially means moving into a new home for a while, bringing about all the necessary expenses that can rack up especially when you first arrive.


I stayed at the official dormitory for exchange students in Yonsei University, SK Global House. If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest staying here, or International House, another dormitory provided by Yonsei University situated right next to SK Global House. Both dormitories are incredibly popular for exchange students, so places do fill up fast. The number one advantage of staying at SK Global House for me personally was the security of knowing that I could leave the dorms with my friends, and come back to the same dorms in groups as there were always friends in the dorms willing to explore the city. My friends who lived off campus would always have to part ways at night, and although South Korea is relatively safe, I worried for them travelling at night alone.  One downside of living at the dorms was that depending on where your classes were held, it could take up to 25 minutes to walk to your class. However, most of my classes were held 5 minutes away, and my furthest class was a 15-minute walk, which was reasonable and was only held once a week.


The highlight of my experience was definitely being able to experience Korean culture firsthand. As a K-pop fan, it was a dream come true being able to attend many concerts and festivals of my favourite idols. Through the program, I was able to meet other likeminded exchange students who shared the same passions as me, and I also had the opportunity to befriend local Korean K-pop fans at many of these events. Being able to take classes at one of the top three prestigious universities in Korea, whilst simultaneously being able to enjoy the bustling city life Seoul had to offer, was definitely one of the most memorable highlights of my life.

Advice/Top Tips

Go for it! If you are considering, do not hesitate to apply, it really is an opportunity of a lifetime. Once you are on exchange, don’t settle after making a few friends, try to meet new people every day. You never know when or where you might meet your new best friend. Go out and explore!