A Valuable Life Experience February 05, 2019

By (Southern Illinois University - Carbondale) - abroad from 02/22/2018 to 06/22/2018 with

ISEP Exchange: Seoul - Exchange Program at Ewha Womans University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I met amazing people and had amazing opportunities thrust upon me. It taught me how to be more independent and sociable. I gained lifelong friends that I hope to see sometime soon.

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.

The course selection was decent but competitive with few slots available for exchange students. The registration process is incredibly competitive in comparison to American universities so prepare to not get one of the courses that you wanted. A.K.A. have plenty of back up options to meet your credit or major requirements. There are a few courses that are basically exclusive to exchange/ international students such as some of the ceramics and painting courses. If you are not attempting to fulfill something other than credit or elective requirements don't worry about taking a full and busy schedule. Leave space in your schedule to enjoy your days, nights, and extended weekends to the fullest. The reason being is that international students aren't exactly taken seriously in most of their courses. There seems to be a different grading system for international students so any work you may do might not reflect on your grade properly. In addition, the majority of classes I registered for did not require you to purchase textbooks and if you had to purchase one it was extremely affordable.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Ewha was always incredibly helpful and extremely responsive to any emails sent to them. They were very accommodating to certain circumstances and went out of there way to work with you during any problems you might be having. The Peace Buddy Program is phenomenal and definitely helps you acclimate to your international student life.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms are great until the weather gets hot. The air conditioning in the rooms are at a set temperature and they also turn off and on at set times during the night and morning. I slept with my balcony door open because it was incredibly warm and humid. Other than that the room is very spacious and has more than enough storage for any clothes and items you might have or buy during your stay.

* Food:

Food can be incredibly cheap, but it will add up if you're not careful. I know it's tempting but don't buy a million snacks from the convenience store every day. You will want to, but DON'T DO IT!!! Eating in groups is the most cost-effective way to save your money, but there are plenty of options for those of us who like to relax and eat alone. The on-campus cafeteria options are relatively cheap and affordable and the majority of restaurants around the campus are affordable for students as well. Korean food will always be cheaper than American brand fast food so you don't really need to stop by the McDonald's.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Personally, I knew I'd always be seen as the "foreigner", however, this did not impact my overall experience at all. Your integration with the local culture depends on how you try to interact with the local culture. While I might have still been the foreigner, I was able to interact and integrate myself into the daily life of a university student in Seoul. Just be confident and personable and you will be fine!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health problems which required me to utilize the healthcare, but I had some friends who did and they said it was extremely efficient and cost-effective.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe once during my time here. I would recommend that if you are going to go out at night to have fun make sure you are in a group that you know and that one of you has cell service or might be able to speak Korean in case any issues arise. I never had any issues and I traveled by myself frequently, but I do recommend to have fun in groups when you go out at night or on the weekend.

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

Yes, I want to study abroad in Korea and at Ewha again, but I would want to do it through a different program. This is nothing against the ISEP program, but it would have been easier to directly apply to the university as an international student and probably cheaper as well

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)

It was incredibly easy for me to budget myself during my entire stay. However, I received a stipend from the university so that is why I was able to budget more easily. Depending on how much you are willing to splurge on each week will determine your weekly budget. For instance, I did not buy that many beauty or clothing products so in turn, I saved a large portion of my money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I'd say in an average week where I didn't do anything extraordinary I would spend about $50-$80.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? One of the major ways I saved money was by not purchasing a Korean sim card or setting up a data plan. I did not find it necessary to have 4g data so I went the entire time without it and was able to manage perfectly fine. The wi-fi was reliable enough to use for calls when I was at the dorms and really you won't need the internet when you are out having fun anyway! I also do not think it is necessary to purchase a wi-fi egg or anything. There is plenty of free wi-fi option around Seoul and it won't be necessary to have internet at every second of your trip.

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

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
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? Definitely try to speak as much as possible outside of class. Even if you're not too certain about the grammar, try to ask questions or say simple phrases in Korean. Also, just being out around local people and listening to them will definitely improve your listening and comprehension skills. I'd recommend to try and learn the basics of the writing system before coming to Korea and supplement your vocabulary while you study!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • 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
  • the city
  • public transportation!!!
* What could be improved?
  • More ways for international students to interact with local students
  • Better ways to practice Korean outside of class
  • Better integration with local students in courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew more of the language before I went because it would have made the trip more exciting as I improved my skills. More information on basic things that locals use like where to buy this at or avoid this sort of things. You learn those things along the way but it'd be easier to avoid it

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Korean Ceramics

Course Department:
Instructor:
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is one course that I would recommend anyone to take no matter what your major is. It was only once a week and was a hands-on and relaxing experience every week. There was a small fee for the class, but it is worth the price. The instructor I had did not speak fluent English, however, it wasn't necessary because of how hands-on and visual the course was. Besides that, the instructor was incredibly knowledgeable and friendly to all students. We were assessed on our finished products at the end of the semester and we had to write a brief description of each ceramic piece we made and present that to our class. Also, you get to take any or all of the ceramics that you made with you after you complete the course! Even if you are not an art person take this class for the experience!
Credit Transfer Issues: