Pay 2/3 of your program cost before it starts or go elsewhere! August 25, 2018

By (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill) - abroad from 08/28/2018 to 07/15/2019 with

ISEP Exchange: Seoul - Exchange Program at Ewha Womans University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about Korean culture and learned more Korean. I don't think it was worth all the stress I went through by not having much help from ISEP or my home university and their ridiculous due dates/payments/fees.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The foreign exchange students register on August 30th, Korean students registered on August 14th. Kind of silly since classes start on September 4th so you find out what your schedule will be like 4 days before classes start. There seems to be a lot of courses available for English instruction as well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Ewha was very helpful, even more so if you sign up for the Ewha PEACE Buddy program which matches you and 3 other exchange students with a student from Ewha that will be able to help you with any issues you have.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I requested a single room dorm very early on but was matched with another student in a shared dorm room. I also selected the option for my housing application to be canceled if I was not placed in a single room dorm, however, I had to send emails to ISEP and my home university to get the housing removed. Paying $3000 to share a room with someone when I can just get a goshiwon for the same price is quite silly, even though the goshiwon may or may not be smaller and is not on campus.

* Food:

Food is pretty cheap here, it's also good. You can also find fast food places like McDonald's, KFC, and BurgerKing and the prices are not much higher.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like I was always going to be viewed as "that foreigner" no matter how long I stayed in Korea or how well I spoke Korean. It makes sense because I obviously look different and didn't really have much of an impact on my experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Didn't use any healthcare services, so 2.5 stars since I can't skip it.

* Safety:

The city is really safe except for walking in some areas, you really have to watch out for cars and scooters. I would not recommend having earphones in your ears or staring at your phone while walking AT ALL.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

The only thing ISEP really provides is a way to apply to 10 schools easily (not even sure if they actually apply you to all 10 schools), some information that your host university has already probably provided you or that you already know from researching online, insurance, and someone to talk to besides your host university and home university. They should really change their payment plan because it is absolutely stupid to charge people 2/3 of the entire payment before the program starts when students already have to pay for their tickets, meals, in-country travel expenses, books, supplies, and possibly housing/clothing/etc. They should charge half of the payment before the program date (they also let you defer the payment until you get your financial aid if you receive that but they still require you to pay 2/3 of the payment for that first semester) and allow you to pay the other half during the second semester. I would not recommend studying abroad through ISEP, if you do then I would look for a school that has more things included.

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)

ISEP requires you to pay 2/3 of the whole amount shown on your payment/invoices page before/on the date the program starts, instead of letting you pay 1/2 each semester. This makes it harder to live on a student's budget for the first semester, it is pretty much impossible if you will be relying on financial aid. Food is also not included in the program so be prepared to pay out of pocket, it can easily rack up if you eat more than once a day (I ate once a day).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Can't remember
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Do not buy a Wi-Fi egg, rent a prepaid SIM card from SKT or KT. I don't know about KT, but with SKT you do not have to pay each month to renew you data plan, you can just pay whenever you want and recharge your data/minutes.

Language

* 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

There are two types of Korean language classes you can take, one is 3 credit hours and not very intensive and the other is 6 credit hours and the sessions are very long.

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? Level 5 French
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? At least learn hangul before you come to Korea, use an app called meeff to make Korean friends while in Korea or abroad (do be careful about whom you talk too and meet though.)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Learning Korean language and culture
  • Living in Korea
  • Interesting courses that are not available at my home university
* What could be improved?
  • PAYMENT PLAN OPTIONS
  • Provide some assistance with forms required, at least sending a website link would be a vast improvement.
  • PAYMENT PLAN OPTIONS
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I was just paying ISEP to "send my application to 10 schools I chose" and that I will have to pay 2/3 of the program cost before the program start date. I also wish I knew that it would have been better to study abroad through another company or just apply directly to the school.

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!