Victoria - Yonsei University

B. Business Management
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

I studied 5 subjects at Yonsei (full-time load): Korean (1), Korean Grammar for International Learners, Topics on Korean Language and Culture, Korean Traditional Music and Culture, and International Politics of the Korean Peninsula. All my classes were taught in English and were under general electives/classes (available to all exchange students regardless of major). In general, the course load was very manageable. Attendance is very important at Yonsei and other Korean/Asian universities, and attendance affects your overall grade. Every subject was split into a 1hr-2hr block over two days, e.g. Monday-Wednesday or Tuesday-Thursday, which makes trying to plan for things outside of school more difficult, but it’s nothing a bit of planning can’t solve. The classes were also not split into large group lectures and small group tutorials, so trying to get proper information about the class quite difficult. Furthermore, for exchange students at least, their Blackboard equivalent was never updated with any assessment information and things were always left very vague.

Personal experience

I had the best time on exchange, being in a different country that I love and I made so many friends that I will miss dearly when I leave Korea. I was not only exposed to Korean culture and language, but also to many different cultures and languages of the world. I travelled to many parts of Korea both on my own, with friends I made and with friends from back home who came to visit. Planning is a definite must with such a fixed class schedule to make the most of your time in Korea. I made friends with other foreigners and locals, getting experiences of being unable to communicate effectively when we need to and laughing about it after, to being able to experience Korea like a local with locals. Even though my Korean hasn’t improved tremendously, I have had some interesting conversations with Koreans in broken Konglish. I made some really good friends from all around the world, and we will definitely keep in touch for a long time, and we are all looking forward to being able to meet up again one day.

Accommodation

I applied for the dorms as a backup but was more keen to stay off campus. I ended up staying in a room in an apartment I found through Airbnb. It was just a little more expensive than a single room at the dorms (which I had applied for) but with more privacy which I need and prefer. It is easier making friends with other international students by living in the dorms but it wasn’t an issue since I made friends through my classes anyway.
I lived about a 20-minute walk away from the Yonsei main gate, and about a 7-minute walk away from Sinchon subway station.

Budget

Yonsei campus
Yonsei campus

My rent was pricey compared to many others that I know, but my living conditions were far better in terms of space, cleanliness, accessibility, etc. Transport was about KRW1,200 per train trip and about KRW800 per bus ride. I walked to Yonsei every day and hung around Sinchon, Edae and Hongdae (uni student areas) so that kept my travel costs low. I ate out most of the time, meals averaged between KRW4,000-12,000, depending on where/what I ate. Morning coffees averaged between KRW2,500-6,000 depending on store type as well. I travelled via KTX to Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and as a foreigner, I managed to get foreigner passes that gave me unlimited usage of the KTX trains within a specific day.

Professional development and employability

My interpersonal skills have been sharpened, my independence strengthened and my ability to adapt honed. Being in a non-English speaking foreign country can really test your patience and perseverance as well.

Highlight

The places I’ve seen, the friends I’ve made and the food I’ve eaten were all highlights. Being outside your comfort zone, especially in a country whose language you just can’t seem get the hang of, can show you how resilient you can be – but these are just small setbacks on an interesting journey. At the end of the day, the highlights will outshine the lowlights of your exchange

Top tips

  • I think it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable and to take things at your own pace.
  • Never feel pressured into being excessively sociable if you’re not usually into these kinds of things, as it can tire you out very quickly and make you feel even more isolated.
  • Give everyone and everything a chance, and eventually, you’ll find people and things to do things that interest you more. 
Victoria - Yonsei University