Fiachra - Seoul National University International Summer Institute

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Mathematics
July 2018

My experience

I chose to study in Seoul because my friend saw it advertised and suggested we should go together since we both study Civil Engineering and there were a few courses offered that would count towards our program back home. I was only able to study one course - Dynamic Project Management - due to the structure of the timetable. The course was not very intensive in terms of assessment and I only had 9 hours of class a week, which allowed me to travel and experience Seoul and other parts of Korea. Staying at the university dormitory, I was able to get to know some of the other students on the summer program and experience Korean culture whilst also meeting some locals. I was fortunate enough to visit Jeju Island and escape the bustling city of Seoul, as well as travel to the seaside city of Busan which allowed me to experience different parts of Korea. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to study overseas for studying and learning different education systems, as well as learning about different cultures and adapting to the vastly different way of life. Travelling on a 5 week summer program allowed me to continue my regular study program back home without major disruption and ensured I made use of my holiday from a personal and academic perspective.

How has the experience changed you?

This experience has provided me with plenty of life lessons where I gained valuable friendships, cultural knowledge and academic skills. This was the first time I travelled overseas independently without adult support and provided me with a good opportunity to make decisions by myself. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Korean culture and experiencing their lifestyle through their food, everyday travel and their cities. It was challenging adapting to the country's way of life, especially with a language barrier. I have come to learn that the people of Korea respect some things more than others. For example, being quiet on the train is highly important for them. I was also able to learn a lot by talking to locals and asking them for tips on how to travel and things to do, because you can learn a lot that the guide books don't tell you. By studying with a wide range of international students and staying at the university dormitory, I was able to build friendships and experience Korean culture with them. The course I undertook was taught very differently to my classes in Australia. The class only had about ten students which meant I got to know my peers and lecturer closely and it ensured everyone was able to share their ideas in the classroom. Since I was undertaking a summer school class, the assessment wasn't very intensive which meant I was more relaxed and could enjoy the class. Overall, the trip has opened my perspective on how to interact with people from different backgrounds as well as how to respect people's values and study in a different environment.

Favourite memory

My favourite memory was visiting the city of Busan in the south of the country. Whilst I was there with one of the other international students from the summer program, we met a local resident who had his tripod setup taking photos in one of the scenic cultural villages. Despite the obvious language barrier we were able to converse and discuss our vastly different cultures in South Korea and Australia. After talking for a few minutes, he generously invited us for a drink and bite to eat. Taken by surprise, we thankfully accepted his offer and went to a local restaurant and enjoyed a tasty Korean barbecue. It was extremely helpful having a local show us around and having him share his knowledge of Korean culture whilst also being able to learn about ours.

Top tips

I would recommend bringing most of your money in Australian cash over to Korea and exchanging it over there as the rate is much better. South Korea is a very safe country and as long as you take care of your belongings. I would also recommend trying to learn some basic Korean as it is very useful even in Seoul. Whilst most people at the university know some English, it can be particularly handy if you can speak a few phrases ordering food and travelling in taxis.


Yes, I received $3000 which covered most of my tuition fees. I payed for all other expenses including flights, accommodation, food and transport.