South Korea: Go Once And You'll Never Want To Leave Past Review

By (Political Science and Government., Western Washington University) for

USAC Korea: Yonsei University in Seoul - Korean and East Asian Studies

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a further appreciation for East Asian cultures which could not be imparted through classes or study. Seoul wasn't my first choice for studying abroad, but if I could go back and change to a program in Japan or Thailand, I wouldn't do it. I fell in love with Seoul and South Korea during my stay there, and now I'm planning to go back and teach English there after I graduate.

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 biggest difference I found was in how grading was assessed -- the university forced a curved grading scheme. Professors could only give out a certain number of A's based on the size of the class, which was discouraging.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The host country's program administration was polite and efficient.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorms for the summer program I went to were very near to where the majority of the classes were held, and also close to two of the best districts in Seoul for nightlife. The region was very walkable, and had good access to public transit. My only complaint would be about the size of the dorm rooms -- they were very cramped, but that is to be expected given the country.

* Food:

The on-campus food ranged from "barely edible" to "good", but there were a number of affordable restaurants within easy walking distance of campus.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The university ran a number of field trips, including a three-day sightseeing tour to Jeju, a beautiful island off the southern coast of Korea. There were also a number of optional cultural classes that were available as well.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Seoul is a dense city, with all the risks that such entails. Don't play in traffic and you'll be fine. I also felt very safe at night walking around the city, either alone or in groups -- in the districts near the college, you'll almost never be actually alone at night, there will be people around. As for health, the university had a large hospital on the campus with an international clinic, staffed with English-speaking doctors. Costs seemed to be about on par with American health care, or a little cheaper, and the program's insurance only covered emergencies, so I had to pay my checkup expenses out of pocket.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Hotel
  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Classes available
  • Proximity to Seoul
* What could be improved?
  • USAC program coordination
  • Frequency of classes -- four days a week is a little much
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The actual program itself through Yonsei University was great. Register through them directly, not through USAC. The only thing USAC does is save you on the application fee -- however, registering through a program makes you ineligible for a number of scholarships that Yonsei offers to its international students. In addition, I found my program adviser at USAC difficult to work with, as she often neglected to inform us of what paperwork we needed until just before the deadline.