Heart and Seoul Past Review

By (Political Science, Economics, Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/14/2013 to 06/23/2013 with

CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience was an eye opener for so many aspects of my life. I ended up questioning a lot of the things I saw and also a lot of things that I did. Moving outside of the American bubble into a country that is unlike it in so many ways is like an out of body experience.

Review Photos

CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences Photo CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences Photo CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences Photo CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The quality of the education is surprisingly high and the classes taught in english are generally easy to follow. The KLI course offered by Yonsei is exceptional, with amazing teachers providing a lot of support for students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CIEE provided a lot of support all throughout the semester. The program made them administrators very accessible. Multiple activities scheduled by the program, throughout the semester, made it easy to get to know everyone in the program. As a result, I always felt like there was a strong network community, from the higher ups to fellow participants.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing provides a private bathroom for everyone in SK. Security desk at the front, along with the scan machine made it feel like it was a safe area. I had trouble with a roommate but the housing office made it very easy to sort out and it was solved right away. Heating and AC makes the rooms comfortable to live in too. And using the card key to activate electricity in the room, genius.

* Food:

I didn't have a meal plan so I ate out often. Eating outside ranges from restaurants, cheap and expensive, to just having street food. Both are satisfying. If you're really short on money you can go to the GS25, one is located in the building, to get something inexpensive. Finding food is not a problem at all.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was surprised how much I learned about the culture without being aware of it. A lot of things that rattled me in the beginning, like the power difference and even calling a taxi, are second nature now. By the end of the semester I felt comfortable walking around and doing things without feeling incompetent.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I only got a cold here but there is a pharmacy right near the campus. The pharmacy speaks english, if needed, and sells strong medicine relatively cheaply. They are very effective, for me at least. These stores are also everywhere.

* Safety:

Seoul is a very safe city. Despite the worries echoed from back home, due to North Korea, I don't think anyone ever sensed any danger. Seoul is a city where you can walk around at 3AM and not feel like you're danger of being mugged, since there are so many people out at all times. The only thing is the driving. Drivers are relentless on the road, keeping an eye out for cars when crossing is important.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Food costs more than you would think. And the amount of shopping that you can do, no matter where you go is alarming. A lot of the places are giant shopping areas, like Dongdaemun and Myeongdong, so it's better to bring more than less. As a side note, the drinking culture is big here and alcohol costs add up.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~150
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget an allowance every week and don't get carried away in the shopping culture.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The program was entirely in English so it comfortable. Taking a KLI class is a mandatory component of the program so that is where foreign language comes in. KLI is an excellent program and I have grown to love my teachers very much for all that they have done. I think the student-teacher relationship is not as important in KLI, as a result the class has a very casual feel that makes learning the language very natural.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? There was no language requirement, I just knew what I knew from being around my parents.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? It's just a matter of using it whenever you can. The sooner you get over the self conscious aspect of using something foreign to you, the sooner you can utilize and learn the language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The Support
  • Accessibility of Everything (People, Places, Food, etc...)
  • Street Waffles
* What could be improved?
  • Various forms of 'Engrish'
  • Nutritional Quality of Available Food
  • Strictness of Housing Regulations
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would've liked to know what almost everything you'd ned is available here. I ended up packing a lot of things i never used because I just ended up buying it here. Things like jackets, face products, earrings are not things you need to bring here.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.