Amazing experience with other international students in Seoul! Past Review

By (International Relations, The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 06/27/2015 to 08/06/2015 with

The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Seoul - Korea University International Summer Campus

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned about Seoul and Korea and got to meet a lot of other international students as well as locals. I was immersed in Korea while getting to take interesting classes in English from American professors. I loved every minute of it and my only regret is that I didn't stay longer.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes were awesome! My professors were amazing, helpful, knowledgeable.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in Frontier House dorm. There were two dorms available: Frontier and CJ house. The only real differences are that CJ is farther up the hill from campus so the climb is a little worse but CJ has a fridge on every floor whereas Frontier doesn't. Not having a fridge was a little inconvenient but not bad. I ate at the cafeteria mostly.

* Food:

At KU, like UT, you can either eat on campus or off campus. I'll start with the off campus: there are a ton of restaurants around KU. Most of them are super cheap and delicious. The first day we went with the KU buddies to a chicken and beer (the official meal of Seoul) restaurant and it was great! After that i went out to eat with people at least three times a week and I was never disappointed. There are a lot of good Japanese restaurants as well as Korean and everything around the university is really affordable. I was never disappointed. You have to get bingsu at Sulbing too! The cafeterias on campus: I stayed in one of the dorms so I went ahead and got a meal pass for the cafeteria in the dorm. If you don't stay in a dorm, you're not going to walk all the way up the hill to go to that cafeteria, so don't bother with a meal pass. There's also a cafeteria on campus, although I only ate there once and it was a little different from the dorm cafeteria and I don't think you need the meal pass. The food at the cafeteria in the dorm was good. It wasn't spectacular and after the first three weeks it got a little repetitive, but I ended up eating about 70 meals there over the course of the 6 week program. They are open from 7am to 9am for breakfast, noon to 1 for lunch, and 5 to 6:30pm for dinner, so you might end up with a class that conflicts in which case you have to eat out for that meal. There's a display of the food of the day outside the entrance so you can decide if you want to eat there before you go in. For cafeteria food, it wasn't bad; some of it I actually miss. BE WARNED, if you are vegetarian, it will be very hard to keep it up while you're in Korea. The cafeteria probably served one fully vegetarian meal a week (either tofu stew or fried rice). You can ask them not to give you the meat sometimes, but often it's cooked right into the main dish (beef stew or spicy tofu stew with shrimp for instance). I don't know why I'm thinking of all these stews, they only served soup like once a week, but whatever. Same goes for restaurants: meat is everywhere so learn how to say "do you have any vegetarian dishes?" before you go and be prepared to miss out on a good bit of food if you remain vegetarian while you're there. I ended up eating meat because it was too much of a hassle, but that might not be a safe option if you've been vegetarian for years.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Do the buddy program! It sounds so cheesy but you will not regret it! Even if you already speak Korean or are Korean, you will have a great time and meet so many people. The buddies would take us to do something at least once a week and afterwards we would go out to eat and then go drinking. It was so much fun and I ended up seeing a lot more of Seoul and meeting a lot more people than I would have if I hadn't had a buddy. All the outings are completely optional so if you don't want to go it's no big deal. The buddies are all KU students so they're our age and they pretty much just show you where the locals hang out and it's a great way to meet other international students in the program. Oh also they're there to help you with your classes and getting adjusted to Korea too, so if you needed help getting a subway card, for example, you could email them. I didn't have any trouble so I pretty much just enjoyed the outings. 5 stars, no regrets, would recommend for everyone. In fact I think every program should have them.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe on campus or around the area. It's like UT in that you'll see cop cars driving around so you know they have a presence there and I never ran into any hoodlums or anyone who seemed threatening. In fact there were significantly less homeless people near campus than UT. I rode the last subway of the night (they stop running at 11pm for some reason) many times and it was always full in a good way, like I was never alone and there were tons of other girls my age and other normal people. I never felt like I was unsafe while I was there. The only thing that seemed like a real threat was pick-pocketing but that never happened to me.

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)

Almost everything is cheaper in Korea. I actually really miss how cheap and delicious the food was and how cheap the clothing was. I really wish I had gone shopping more because I love the clothes and bags I brought back. The average price of a meal there was about 5,000 won, which is about $4.50. The price of meals at the cafeteria is 3,800 won which is about $3.50 and the food is pretty good and you get a full meal- definitely a good deal.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I honestly did not track my spending and I know it varied from week to week. Food was definitely cheaper there than Austin, but tampons were more expensive; I guess pads are more popular there but maybe bring plenty of tampons because that was the one thing that was actually more expensive than here.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Most things are cheaper in Korea and are just as good, if not better, quality. Personally I was worried about overweight baggage fees, so I took travel sizes of my shampoo and conditioner and a couple other heavy products and when I ran out while I was there I bought Korean replacements. Worked well for me but I have normal hair. I didn't have any trouble finding any products while I was in Seoul, but as I mentioned above, tampons were more expensive there than here. However that was the only thing that wasn't cheaper I think.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No
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? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 2 semesters of Korean language classes at my home university.
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0

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
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?
  • The Buddy program
  • The location of KU
  • The internationality of the student body
* What could be improved?
  • Make it easier to pay the dorm fees online
  • Put fridges in all the dorms
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? No regrets! Definitely do the Buddy program- it was great!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Korean Cinema and Film

Course Department: ANS, RTF
Instructor: Darcy Paquet
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Darcy is very knowledgeable about Korean film and he wrote the textbook he uses for this class (available for $10 on Amazon; paperback or kindle version). You end up learning a lot about Korean history and politics through learning the context and circumstances of the films. The course isn't terribly difficult but you do have to do the reading just because there's a lot of content, but Darcy covers it all in class and post the slides of his lectures online. I made a B+ and the only reason I could have made an A if I had done all the readings. The class had about 20 people in it and we watched one movie in its entirety and clips of several others. I would say 40% of class time is spent watching movies which were all great; I've been watching the movies we only saw clips of since I've been back. There were two tests: a midterm and a final. Tests are half fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice and half short answer with one long answer/very short essay (<500 words). I think 25 or 30 question total. There were also two other written assignments: a 500 word response to a film and a 1,000 word scene analysis. The workload was not too heavy considering you only take two or three classes total on this program. 9/10 would recommend if you like movies.
Credit Transfer Issues: