Summer in South Korea: More Fruitful than I could have imagined Past Review

By (Psychology, Stonehill College) for

CIEE: Seoul - Summer Korean Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, this experience demonstrated to me my ability to handle changes and things that I need to adapt to quickly. This didn't change my future plans so much as confirm them. I am ow even more convinced that I want to take a year to teach English in South Korea and it is because of the amazing experience that I had on this program.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Class attendance was mandatory (not that it isn't at home, but it was even more so), and the school had a very strict grading policy. The teachers were all guest teachers who taught in English and did not necessarily speak Korean. There was a lot of reading, but there was still plenty of time to experience the country.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CIEE was extremely helpful with everything. Any question that we had and anything that we were really confused or upset about could be brought to them and they would help us to the best of their abilities.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The program arranged housing for us on campus in the international dorms. The dorm itself wasn't the best place I've ever lived, but the people that I met and the experiences I was having more than made up for it.

* Food:

Cafe Kkini, in the basement had a wide variety of food, that was kind of bland, you got bored with it very quickly, it was also more expensive than the cafeteria on the main campus (which had better food and more variety but was much more crowded). There were many places to eat in the international dorm areas themselves which were all very good, but kind of pricey. I would say that the best bet would be to go out for dinner, it's cheaper and more adventurous. If you are a vegetarian you might have to pay close attention, things that say 'veggie' or 'vegetable option' might have meat hidden somewhere (I would often buy a veggie kimbap that had ham in it, perplexing, but seemingly normal).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I really loved the trip to the DMZ, the whole day was a lot of fun and we got to see a lot of very interesting things. I also really enjoyed the Jeonju trip, though I would say that some of the days were a little over-packed, which made it hard to fully enjoy them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Seoul is fairly safe, I would suggest not getting into taxis alone if you're a girl and especially if you don't know the language. I would also suggest going out with a group of people at night instead of alone, again if you know the language it might be a little better. My program was very good about explaining any risks and warning us about things we should and shouldn't do. If we had health problems we could talk with our Resident Director, but no one had anything happen who didn't have family their so I don't know what it would have been like for foreigners.

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

A lot of people spoke in English, but especially when out to eat or shop it was important to at least be able to read the language. I had friends on the program who could speak Korean, but I usually practiced in class or out at shops. If I had been there for longer I think it might have been easier to gain the speaking practice.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The helpful people I got to work with.
  • The different trips and cultural excursions.
  • The amount of information provided.
* What could be improved?
  • Definitely the amount of downtime we get on trips, they were sometimes too hectic.
  • Maybe a tour of the area around the school would be helpful, but not necessary.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I would first suggest that you look into things that you want to do or see. I didn't really have time to look into it and so didn't use the things that CIEE offers (like cultural reimbursement) to my benefit. I think that someone who likes to have fun and learn about culture would be an excellent fit for this program. Also somebody interested in languages, because the language program is both very intense and very rewarding.