Kam Suet - Korea University

Bachelor of Communication
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

As one of the top 3 universities in Korea, KU offers a wide range of courses taught in English. A standard full-time study load for undergraduate students at Korea University (KU) is 15 credits per semester, which is equivalent to 8 units per semester at the University of Queensland. Most exchange students do 5 courses per semester as each course is normally worth 3 credits, however, I took 6 courses during my exchange at KU as I took three 2-credit Korean language courses. Here are the 6 courses I took during my one-semester exchange at KU:
DISS241 Contemporary Korea – I would recommend exchange students who are interested in further exploring the inside of Korean society. This course offers a comprehensive analysis on contemporary Korean society and allows foreigners to develop balanced views on positive and negative aspects of Korean society.
IFLS242 Intermediate Korean Speaking
IFLS243 Intermediate Korean Reading
IFLS246 Intermediate Korean Writing – Before I went on exchange, I have already finished KORN3010 at UQ. I would recommend doing the three Korean language courses as you get to practice speaking, reading, writing in Korean. The three courses are also scheduled across the week, so I got to use and practice Korean every day across the weekdays.
JMCO269 Media Economics
IFLS302 English Reading & Discussion
Doing sign-on at KU could be a stressful experience for many students. Unlike UQ, where each course may consist of a lecture and several tutorials for students to choose, courses at KU are mostly are just tutorials (which means they have smaller class size and semester intake). Among six courses I took,  DISS241 was the only course that contained more than 50 students in the class, the others only had less than 30 students per course. In addition, each course normally limits exchange / visiting students to 15%. Therefore, I would recommend students going on exchange (no matter to KU or other universities) save enough electives before going on exchange.

Personal experience

Seoul (605.2km^2) is a lot smaller than Brisbane (15,842km^2), but the city (16,000/km^2) has a population higher density than Brisbane (148/km^2).
Seoul is a city suitable for all ages as you can feel both modern and traditional aspects of the city while you are living there. Although the city has been developing very quickly over the years, you can still see a lot of ancient palaces and buildings in the center of the city.
Seoul is also well known for its fast-paced life. Many people would look at this from an angle considering life in Seoul must be very stressful. It is true that “fast” is reflected through Koreans’ lifestyle, nevertheless, it is also reflected through the convenience of living there. Seoul subway has 22 lines that can get you everywhere in Seoul. Shops and restaurants mostly not only open until late at night, but also operate 7 days a week.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus during exchange. I chose to stay at Airbnb due to personal preference.
Just like in Brisbane, there are many types of student accommodation available for students in Seoul. Most exchange students would choose to live on-campus as they get to meet other exchanges students and it is more convenient for them to get to the university. Another popular option among students is “Gosiwon”. The term itself means “room for exam (preparation)”. Originally these places took off as a distraction-free housing option for students preparing for university entrance exams or public service exams, nowadays they are also available as student accommodations. Many of my non-Korean friends confused Gosiwons with studio rooms. The difference is that, unlike studio rooms, Gosiwons normally do not come with private bathrooms or kitchens.
I would say living on-campus is definitely the most convenient and easiest option for students who do not know much about student accommodations in Korea. Gosiwons may be cheaper, but the facilities are sometimes not as good as apartments. Private rentals can be another option, but it can be slightly risky as some landlords do not provide contracts or do not speak English.
KU does provide help through Global Services Center (it is just like UQAbroad) or KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistant). Global Services Center can offer you enough information to look for your off-campus accommodation options, but it is still your own responsibility to look for one. KUBA can help you with communicating with your landlord, I will explain further in “Highlight”.

Costs

Living cost in Korea is overall cheaper comparing to Brisbane. 300-400AUD (per month) should be enough for students to rent a shared room or Gosiwon.
If you live around KU, it takes less than 30 minutes to get to center of Seoul and the transportation cost is around 2-3AUD.
Dining out in Korea can cost from 10-20AUD for each meal. However, it is a part of Korean college student culture that they like to go get a “Round 2” or even a “Round 3” after having the regular meal. It is possible for you to end up spending 30AUD over a night. (I found an article online that explains this culture, just google “1, 2, cha, cha, cha: The Rounds of Korean Nightlife”)

Professional Development

Studying in Korea can be a totally different experience to studying in other English speaking countries. Although you still can meet a lot of English speakers in Korea, you have a higher chance of coming across people who cannot speak any English. I studied Korean as electives for two semesters before I went on exchange, nevertheless, when I was here, I was scared of actually using Korean with native speakers, and a lot of times I would just use English instead. After I arrived in Korea, since many locals could not understand English, I had to push myself to speak Korean almost on a daily basis. After 4 months living in Korea, not only my Korean skills improved, I also became more confident in using Korean as well as humbly allowing people to correct my Korean when I make mistakes.

Highlight

KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistant) is a group of local KU students helping exchange / visiting students to settle down at KU and explore Korean culture. If you are an exchange student, you will be automatically assigned to a buddy assistant (local KU student). Each KUBA group contains about 50 exchange / visiting students and 5-10 buddy assistants.
The KUBA group arranges weekly lunch / dinner gatherings for foreign students to try out local Korean food as well as weekly short trips to go around Seoul.

Top tips

-    Make sure you saved enough electives before going on exchange.
-    I would suggest you to take Korean language course, as it definitely makes your life easier if you can speak basic Korean.
-    There are different events happening during different semesters. The biggest event in Semester 1 is “Ipselenti”, it is the name of the university festival. The ticket for Ipselenti costed me 11AUD this semester (Semester 1, 2018), and I got to see many top celebrities performing at KU (including PSY, the singer who performs “Gangnam Style). For Semester 2, there is a “GoYeonJeon”, which can be directly translated as sports competition between Go- Korea University & Yeon – Yonsei University.