A casual abroad experience~ July 25, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 03/04/2019 to 06/14/2019 with

Seoul National University: Seoul - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a true friend from the other side of the world. And a fuller understanding of myself and my relationships/understandings of food, traveling, money, culture, and socials.

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 classes at SNU was less discussion-based. The professors lectured for most of class. The readings were very minimal. Doable and well-balanced. Not assigned novels to read every week. There really weren't any assignments except for papers/midterms and finals. Compared to Wellesley, not as academically rigorous and intense. Though most of my classes were catered to exchange students, taught in English with consideration that for many students, English is not their first language.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I feel that I was well-informed prior to my program starting. They communicated very thoroughly and responded relatively promptly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was so so very affordable, I could not not love it. I stayed in one of the older buildings, very much like the older dorms at Wellesley or other US universities. Communal bathrooms, wooden interior. It was a little anxiety-inducing because the whole dorm application/results process happened two weeks before the program started. So if I wasn't lucky enough to get a dorm, I would be stranded. Though I never met someone whilst at SNU who didn't get into dorms.

* Food:

Again, very affordable! The student center even offers 1,000 krw meals (less than 1 usd) all day. There are many places to eat on campus: dorms and various buildings on campus have cafeterias, restaurants, and cafes. I loved SNU's accessibility and affordability and quality/variety that it offered with its food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I mostly socialized with other exchange students. SNU has its SNUBuddy program, where SNU students pair up with exchange students and organize various cultural immersion opportunities, like visiting national palaces, going to a temple stay, eating out, etc. But again, it was a more touristy experience. Even using the korean language was to a minimum. Except for ordering food at times, I barely used Korean when exploring the Seoul with other exchange students. I think this is the case for most exchange programs, unless you do a homestay.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I fortunately never was ill during my stay, so I never experienced using healthcare. Am omitting from this question!

* Safety:

Seoul is a very safe city. And SNU has a very safe campus. It is much like Wellesley's, lots of foliage, lots of hills (it's on a mountain), and away from the city (around 40 mins away from Seoul). There were times that I stayed in a studio until the early am, or came back really late, and I never felt unsafe when walking back to the dorms.

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

I really enjoyed this program, but I hesitate to say I'd do it all over again. Mostly because there are so many other places/programs I would have liked to experience, too.. Also the campus is a little~ too far from Seoul!!

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)

Aside from tuition costs (since I still paid Wellesley), everything was very easily affordable. SNU meals costed no more than $6 (usually <$1 to $5). There were many convenient stores around and on campus that made getting toiletries and living necessities convenient and affordable. Getting around Seoul was also much more convenient and cheaper compared to Wellesley's transpo to Boston and Boston's subways.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? on average, less than $100.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat at the cafeterias! The student center cafeteria (building 63) offers 1,000 krw meals (less than 1 usd!). There are some free shuttles that leave from campus to the closest subway station, but they don't run all day. Exploring different restaurants off-campus is not really an expensive activity, but I felt that eating at the student center helped me save towards spending elsewhere! Like for travels around and out of Korea.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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

  • Local 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?
  • OIS office really keeps you informed. They're helpful.
  • Being able to get familiar with Seoul.
  • Campus!
* What could be improved?
  • More transparency earlier on about what classes are actually taught in English.
  • Changing the housing process so it doesn't take place a mere two weeks before program begins.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Most art/studio/design/aesthetic courses here are taught in Korean. Understandable, but I wish I knew this before applying for the Aesthetics program and planning on taking more studio courses.

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.