A Beneficial & Life-Changing Experience January 08, 2023

By (East Asian Studies, University of North Georgia) - abroad from 06/22/2022 to 08/05/2022 with

CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. While the trip cost a pretty penny, the impact on my character and life is priceless.

Review Photos

CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies Photo CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies Photo CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies Photo CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies Photo CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

During my time abroad, I spent 6 weeks at Yonsei University. The professors spoke Korean and English equally and were very flexible with the 6 week semester. There were several libraries/study areas around the campus and the majority of textbooks/ebooks were free.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Yonsei and CIEE staff could be found quite easily. CIEE staff had their own office at Yonsei University and Yonsei staff was also on duty- day and night at the dormitory. All of these staff members were helpful and would find the answer to questions that would arise.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I will note that CIEE has nothing to do with how clean the dormitories are. I resided in a single-room dorm, which was smaller than expected but worked for me. Within my room, I had a twin bed, which was very, very hard and left my back very sore. After some time, my back adjusted and I got used to it. There was a desk with plenty of shelf room and a wardrobe closet, again, with plenty of room. A plus of the single room is that you get a mini fridge which I appreciated greatly. The bathroom is a wet bathroom, so I would advise you to wear sandals when you step into it, and also to keep your feet clean. The shower was always nice and hot. The cleanliness of the room was decent, but not thorough. We were told to clean our rooms before we left, and I suspect that is what the last students did, so some areas were missed.

* Food:

At the entry-level of the dormitory, there was a convenience store filled with goodies and 3 restaurants. I believe one was a burger place, another was a pork cutler place, and another was a soup place. I really enjoyed the burger place. I recommend the Western burger. If none of those suit your appetite, there is a number of convenience stores and restaurants on campus. Let's not forget that you can find many more restaurants and grocery stores just across the street.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was a guest, and my country was not my host. This means, just because I came to visit, it does not make them my host. I was to remain aware of my actions because one thing that is considered normal in my country, may come off as rude in another. I educated myself on the social etiquette of the country I was visiting beforehand. You do not want to stand out. You want to blend in, and because I educated myself, I did blend in quite nicely. Aside from this, while the language barrier did cause some problems as I am not fluent, I did not worry too much as many places had kiosks that had an English option- this made purchasing items a breeze. On top of this, as noted above, CIEE provided many activities and excursions that allowed students to work together and encouraged them to interact with the locals and explore the area.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I became ill during my study abroad, and with South Korea's guidelines for COVID, I had to be tested. I first emailed a CIEE staff member asking for advice. She directed me to the on-campus clinic, where I was seen, asked about my symptoms, and tested for COVID, all for free. There were some language barrier problems, but it was sorted out. I was given 3 types of medication pills and was told how to take them. I paid for those there and went on my way. I cannot compare this clinic to my home clinic at my University as I've only been once and that was to get an ice pack, but what I do know, is that there is no fee when you visit my University's clinic as it is already paid for when you paid toward your tuition.

* Safety:

Yonsei University seemed like a very safe place, even when it's in the heart of a large and busy city. South Korea is a safe place in general, so I was never worried. In the dormitory, there was always a Yonsei staff member in the lobby to watch those who enter and leave. There was only one way to enter the area that takes you to the stairs/elevators, and you could only enter this area after your temperature was checked and your card was swiped. Separate floors separated the sexes. There were never males and females residing on the same floor. And to enter your room, you would have to tap your key card (kind of like a hotel). There is no jaywalking whatsoever. There are many safe places to cross at, so never attempt to do so elsewhere because while the city is relatively safe, drivers can be careless. Keep an eye out for bicycles and motorbikes of any kind. They WILL drive them on the sidewalk where people walk, so be aware of your surroundings. I have even seen them drive them on the pedestrian crosswalks. They're not supposed to, but again, you must remain aware.

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

The communication throughout the program never left me wondering or confused. I always felt taken care of.


* 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)

I took a leave of absence from my job during my study abroad. I relied solely on my savings and the scholarship I received: Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? My biggest tip to future students is: Apply for scholarships!!! The sooner you do it, the better because it is a process. Look into your school and program resources, they will usually have a list of scholarships that will help you. Your GPA not high? Do not let that stop you! Not all scholarships look at GPA. The scholarship that allowed me to study abroad is the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. This scholarship is exclusive to students who receive the Pell Grant. The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship gives a voice to those who have been underrepresented: The minority, the disabled, first-generation college students, etc. Gilman looks at what makes you unique and what makes you do what you do. They want to know what obstacles you have overcome. This is the scholarship that wants to hear how you have blossomed and wants to be the one to give you that extra push. Money should never stop a student from learning. If you have any questions about this scholarship or any others, please get with your college/university as they can assist you with this.


* 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
How many hours per day did you use 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

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Strong Support Staff
  • University/Dormitory Safety
  • Flexibility
* What could be improved?
  • N/A
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Save your receipts and carry your passport everywhere with you! Many stores offer tax-free goods if you purchase so much (I think it is over 25,000 won?), and they will need your passport to give you that discount. If they do not offer it, save your receipts and it can be done at the airport. This is mainly for items you plan to take back home: clothing, shoes, and gifts.

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!