The Adventures of a Seoul Brother Past Review

By (Asian Cultures and Languages - Japanese, The University of Texas at Austin) for

Hanyang University: Seoul - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience allowed me to gain a non-American aspect of everything from international events to manners of conducting daily activities. I truly believe that my study abroad experience boosted my cultural awareness in a way that no amount of time reading textbooks could have. There is certainly no substitute for studying abroad, and I can't properly express in words how valuable my experience was. My time abroad did shape my future plans and academic interest to some extent. Though I still hope to find a career that allows me to travel, and possible work in Asia, I know that a career in international relations is not for me. I still think it is a fascinating major and academic discipline, but it is not my calling. Studying abroad allowed me to realize I would like to have a career that allows me to interact with people on a personal level free from politics. Realizing this, I can now search for a new academic discipline in graduate school, but still take along the skills and knowledge I have gained throughout my undergraduate career.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Hanyang University (Seoul Campus), Hanyang University (Ansan Campus)
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.

As I said above, the Korean language coursework was very difficult, but the courses taught in English were quite easy. The intensive Korean courses were scheduled for four hours Monday through Friday in either the morning or afternoon. The language courses were taught by young and enthusiastic teachers who taught only in Korean. Everyday the main teacher taught new grammar and sentence structures and then facilitated the students practicing the new grammar, and listening comprehension exercises for the first three hours. The last hour was spent with the reading teacher. The reading portion of the class aimed to make sure every student could apply the new grammar and read Korean text at the same speed in which he or she spoke Korean. Every 4 weeks there is a testing period lasting 2 days for a total of eight hours. Not all eight hours of the period are spent testing. About four hours are spent in actual testing, and the other four hours are spent crashing last minute and anxiously awaiting your name to be called. Most days, these classes are very fun and you bond quickly with your teachers and classmates. Compared to the American education system, these classes are pretty relaxed and there are also class competitions and culture classes (for all intent and purposes, field trips) scheduled throughout the semester. The courses designed for foreigners taught in English are precisely what you would expect from a course in the United Sates. In fact, most of my professors were from, or had taught for several years in the United states. There were a few other professors from various counties in Europe, but I didn't take any of their classes so I can't properly evaluate them. While at Hanyang University's Ansan campus, I took a semester of Japanese courses. I know it's a bit strange to take Japanese course in Korea, but that's what I did. These course are far more difficult then Japanese course in the states, as most Koreans taking Japanese course have either studied abroad in Japan, or studied Japanese for several years in high school and college. The conversation course, or advanced culture courses were taught entirely in Japanese by native speakers of Japanese, and it was expected for the students to already be fluent. The Japanese reading course was the most difficult for me because the reading passages which often had to do with sociological theories about Japanese society were explained in Korean which was difficult for me, being someone whose Korean language skills were far beneath their Japanese language skills.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

This program did an excellent job of helping students get acclimated to being in Korea. The on-site support services are wonderful, and almost all of the professors on campus are willing to stop and help you. The people in the international office are extremely knowledgeable about Korea, and the American higher education system.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in Hanyang University's international dormitory 2 located in Sageun Dong, Seoul, Hanyang University. The neighborhood is very safe, and I never heard anything about anyone being the victim of a crime of any sort. Hanyang University is shaped somewhat circular and the international dormitory is locate on the eastern outer rim of the circle. Walking to classes located in the center of campus take around ten to fifteen minutes, but there is a Hanyang Women's University bus that you can take to Hanyang University subway station. If you exit from exit number two, you will emerge right across from Hanyang Plaza which is located right across from the language school in the center of campus. Using this bus, you can get to class in less than ten minutes. The bus is also free to ride, and runs from about 8 a.m till 10 p.m. When you arrive at the dorm you will have to buy toiletries and bed sheets. Bed sheets are extremely expensive in Korea. If you have the room for it in your luggage, I recommend taking bed sheets along with you. If not be prepare to spend around fifty dollars for the sheets and another fifty dollars for a heavy comforter or bedspread.

* Food:

Most of the food in Korea is fine unless you only eat very specific things. Vegetarians, Vegans and people who don't eat pork for religious reasons might have a little trouble finding places to eat. There are lots of "mom and pop restaurants" selling chicken. Most of them are fine, but I found that you have to be careful with chicken. I was food poisoned twice while in Korea, and both times it was from eating chicken.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My most memorable experience was going snowboarding with all of my language professors. We all pretended to be secret agents trying to escape a secret facility while being pursued by local police. As someone who was born and raised in Texas, I had never been snowboarding, and my language professor made it a very special experiences.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Crime rates in Seoul are far lower than than in the United States. While in Seoul or Ansan, I did not ever go to a hospital or clinic of any sort.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I wouldn't eliminate any aspect of the of the program to lower costs. I wish I had known that bed sheets and toiletries were as expensive as the were. Also, I would recommend also paying in cash in Korea. People will usually cut you a deal if you pay in cash. When you go out to eat at a nice Korean restaurant go with a lot of your friends and order multiple dishes. This will usually result in spending a low amount of money for a large amount of food. Whenever you go to a big department store, do not accept the initial price they offer. Usually if you haggle with them a bit, they'll come down on their prices.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Korean 507
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

The best way to improve your language skills is to go out into the city. Just go out into the city and use your language skills in restaurants and shopping malls. It is relatively difficult to make local friends when you spend the majority of your time in the language school, but there are plenty of other opportunities to use your language skills elsewhere.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

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?
  • I liked the professors in the language school
  • I really liked the staff in the international office
* What could be improved?
  • It would have been nice to have a Korean roommate
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The best advice I could give a student considering this program would be to take every bit of your study abroad experience as just an experience. Don't get too comfortable or careless when things are going well, and don't get frustrated when things aren't going well. Learn from every experience, and don't allow any particular part of your experience define your entire experience. I think a student who is patience, open-minded, and genuinely interested in Korean culture would benefit most from this program.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Travel Culture in Japan

Course Department: JAP 455
Instructor: Taira Nakamura
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: This course was quite challenging, and involved lots of discussion. I recommend having a very high level of Japanese proficiency.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Korean as a Foreign Language

Course Department: KOR 872
Instructor: Professor Lee
Instruction Language: Korean
Comments: A course designed for Chinese students studying in Korea.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Japanese Conversation

Course Department: JAP 332
Instructor: Professor Tada
Instruction Language: Japanese
Comments: This course was excellent for anyone who wishes to increase their speaking proficiency.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Reading in Japanese

Course Department: JAP 322
Instructor: Shin Hae Park
Instruction Language: Korean
Comments: This course involved reading difficult Japanese passages and sometimes translating them into Korean.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

United States Korea Relations From 1945

Course Department: International College SIS 372
Instructor: Joseph Stadler
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was an interesting course because it offered relations from a Korean point of view instead of the American point of view.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Korean Language

Course Department: Chogeup 2
Instructor: Hee Jin Lee and Seo Yeong Cho
Instruction Language: Korean
Comments: The Korean language course was very fast-paced and intense, but very rewarding.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Understanding International Negotiations

Course Department: International College SIS 435
Instructor: Professor Lee
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was a very fun and interesting course that teaches how to properly engage in negotiations over sensitive matters.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Intensive Korean

Course Department: N/A because this course is in the separate language school, and not Hanyang University.
Instructor: Heejin Lee and Seoyong Lee
Instruction Language: Korean
Comments: This course is extremely challenging but very rewarding.Be wary of testing into a level that may be too high for you. This course made very good use of the location, and offered relevant trips. My professors were very knowledgeable and well prepared. I participated in class more often than I would have at my local university.
Credit Transfer Issues: