Phoebe - Yonsei University

B. Arts / Law
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

I studied Korean Grammar for International Learners, Topics on Korean Language & Culture and the Korean Language Intensive (KLI) program.

All courses at Yonsei require a fairly high level of attendance in order to achieve a good mark, so be sure to keep this in mind. Studying KLI was the most beneficial for me. We did 2 hours a day (4-6pm Mon-Fri), so by the end of the semester I could live fairly comfortably in Korea. The courses that are just for exchange students (like Korean Grammar for International Learners) seem to be much easier than courses taught in English with a mix of local and foreign students.

The lecturers do not set out all of the course information in the first lecture like at UQ and its hard to find any information online, so I recommend emailing the lecturer directly.

Personal experience

I wanted to experience new things, and really enjoyed my time in Korea. I met a lot of new friends (both Korean and other foreigners) and I joined lots of clubs that aimed to introduce foreigners to Korean culture. I'd definitely recommend joining a club at Yonsei, as I got to do some great things, like going to the DMZ and exploring places in Seoul that I otherwise wouldn't have known about.

I had studied KORN1010 and KORN1011 at UQ before going to Korea (so I had some basic knowledge of Korean), but my language skills grew very quickly being surrounded by Koreans 24/7.

Accommodation

I lived on campus in SK Global House. I'd highly recommend living on campus for those who are going to study KLI, as the buildings are connected, making it easy for you to go to class 5 days a week. The dorms have everything you could possibly need, like a kitchen downstairs, a gym and places to eat are connected. I lived in a double room, which didn't have a fridge. This was alright for me, but if a fridge is a necessity for you then maybe a single room, living in international house or living off campus may be a better option.

Most international students will walk into Sinchon for dinner (which is a 15 min walk). From talking with others, it doesn't seem like living off campus in Sinchon is any cheaper than living in the dorms, so I'd recommend going for the dorms if you can. The only thing is you aren't allowed any alcohol in the dorms.

Budget

Overall things in Korea are much cheaper than in Australia. You can eat a meal for less than $10 or if you are being frugal around $5. Taking a bus or the subway won't cost you more than $2 and taxis are a few dollars extra. The most expensive thing was accommodation, which cost me about $2000, but compared with Australia it's pretty cheap. I allocated ₩200,000 spending money a week, and sometimes I went over (if I planned trips or went shopping), but most of the time I spent less. If you are planning to shop often I would allocate more.

Professional development and employability

I think I learnt a lot as a result of my exchange. Most evidently my Korean skills have improved a lot. By the end of my exchange I felt fairly comfortable having a normal conversation in Korean.

I'm typically a quiet person, but had to be more outgoing in order to meet new people and to improve my Korean language skills. I've also improved my listening skills and have learnt to be more understanding of other people.

Highlight

I don't think I have one highlight from my time in Korea. Rather I really enjoyed trying a lot of great new foods (like 치맥, 삼겹살 and 찜닭) and going to some interesting places, such as Busan, the DMZ and the palaces in Seoul. The palaces are amazing because they are so old yet surrounded by the modern buildings of Seoul.

Top tips

Korea is extremely different from Australia, so I had a lot of new and amazing experiences. I'd definitely recommend trying to learn the Korean alphabet before you come, because everything is much easier if you can read Korean.

Be prepared for it to be very cold around December - February and very hot from June - August as well. I'd also recommend taking the KLI program if you don't speak Korean, as it's interesting and will really help you to improve.