Travel to Seoul! March 11, 2020

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/27/2019 to 12/23/2019 with

CIEE: Seoul - Arts and Sciences

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was able to learn more about Korea and Koreans my age, while advancing my Korean language abilities. I also learned how to be independent and focus on my own personal goals while befriending people who helped me work toward them.

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 level of rigor is far less than what I was used to at my home institution, but I was able to advance my Korean language skills through the Korean language program and invest more time outside of the classroom through cultural experiences.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very friendly and communicative!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms have their own bathroom and the fee for a single is not much compared to what someone would normally have to pay in the US.

* Food:

There is no meal plan, which is actually more convenient. There's a cafeteria in the dorm and a large array of restaurants and stores nearby.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I think it is easy to only befriend foreigners as a foreigner in Korea, because most Koreans do not want to interact with foreigners/speak English unless they are someone who is particularly interested in foreign culture or learning English. Nonetheless, there are ways to meet Koreans and I felt pretty successful in doing so and making close relationships with them!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had an issue and always felt supported by the program staff if I needed medical attention.

* Safety:

Korea is so safe! People leave their phones and credit cards on the table at restaurants and walk away to go to the bathroom without any concern for things getting stolen.

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

CIEE is a convenient program that supports you throughout the experience. It helped me quickly feel comfortable in a city that was otherwise completely foreign to me.

Finances

* 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)

5 - it just depends on what you want to eat. You can easily have a good meal for $5. Personal expenses are extremely cheap.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe $140, but I would blame a lot of that spending on my decision to go to cafes and bars.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy groceries and cook!

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
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? I took a 3-week language intensive program at Yonsei's Korean Language Institute and was placed level 4 (which is level 3 for the normal program)
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? For a long time I was studying with a Korean friend whose English was really good conversationally. This made it so that our primary means of communication was English. Then, I befriended someone whose English was so beginner that it was easier for me to speak Korean and that was where I found the most growth. We were both able to improve our languages together and I was forced to communicate in a language I didn't have much confidence in otherwise.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
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?
  • Support with VISA/ARC/housing/etc.
  • Week long orientation to make friends and get used to Seoul
  • Security of knowing that in the case of an emergency, CIEE will support you and offer guidance
* What could be improved?
  • Freedom to live off campus
  • More excursions outside of Seoul/traveling opportunities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more about how to budget my money while in Korea. Even though things are cheap, it is also easy to spend money on food and experiences!

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!