I love Korea!!! August 15, 2019

By (University of California - Riverside) - abroad from 02/25/2019 to 06/22/2019 with

Yonsei University: Seoul - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Most definitely worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself as a person and as a student. My goal academically was to learn more about Korea which I certainly did. I did try to learn more Korean, too, which I guess I did too, though it didn't really feel like it. I also learned how much I hate to be someplace where I don't speak the language (Japan) because of how lost it makes me feel! So, be careful of that.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Yonsei University is an amazing school and though it's a huge campus, there are resources at every step, should you seek them! From the academia to the resources (like the library) to the professors to the overall beauty and location of the campus – Yonsei is amazing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I wish we had access to a better kitchen and the rooms were okay. First time living in a dorm, so I guess I can't complain too much.

* Food:

Food is relatively inexpensive (I spent about $15 per day on food, just eating out) but for vegans/vegetarians/halal-only eaters, food is hard to find in Korea. I still love Korea, though!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I learned Korean before getting there, which gave me the opportunity to converse with people that I think others were not willing/able to do. It really helps. You can get around with just English too, but it's more fun when you can talk to people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was able to see a therapist fully covered by the insurance, which was amazing, and she was an amazing therapist.

* Safety:

Compared to America, Korea is like a haven. Rarely felt unsafe, only when I was walking alone at like 2 am or something, which no one should really do anyway. Even then, it was just me being paranoid.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Life in Korea was hard – I won't lie. I didn't always feel great (hence the therapist) but I did feel happy. Even when times were hard and even when I wasn't doing well, I knew I was happy. Which is saying a lot. It's partially because I really wanted to be happy and partially because Seoul just felt like home.

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)

Like I said, food is relatively cheaper, even if you're only eating out. Even little costs like home goods are much cheaper. Transportation as well.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$115
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save up before you go - it's unlikely you'll have any income there and you don't want to constantly ask your parents to be sending you money. That also costs them money. Don't spend on just whatever you see, in my experience, you end up regretting it later. I bought some clothes (not a lot, maybe for like ~$60 the entire four months) but I could have used it towards something else.

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

We had to take Korean or an alternate class but honestly, not much encouragement to actually use it unless you joined the Korean Speaking Club, which I did.

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? I hadn't; just self-study.
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? Learn to read/write first. Korean is a relatively easy alphabet. I watched a lot of Korean dramas with the Korean and English subtitles so I could follow along and see how things were spelled, pronounced, and pick an accent to copy. That usually helps me sound more native when it comes to languages.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • Being in Seoul! The location in Seoul.
  • Yonsei University
  • UCEAP office
* What could be improved?
  • Connecting to other UC kids before
  • Dorms - wish they had more amenities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I wouldn't get along with everyone and that I have to just let it go. Sometimes, you don't do anything to someone but they're still just mean. Also, that I should access mental health facilities right away rather than waiting. Also, plan out what trips you want to take. Spontaneous is fun but being in control of my own day (for me) is important.

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!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Nationalism: Theory and Practice

Course Department:
Instructor: Seomin Jung
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Love the topic and the professor, just wish it had more discussion.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Understanding Korean Culture

Course Department:
Instructor: Sung A Cha
Instruction Language: English/minor Korean
Comments: Always did her best to engage and keep us interested and brought us so many presents that related to what we were studying in class. Super nice and understanding. Learned a lot.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Politics and Foreign Policy of North Korea

Course Department:
Instructor: Yongho Kim
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Really interesting and fun teacher but tests were a bit harder than necessary. Would have preferred more discussion, too.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Korean 2

Course Department: Korean Language
Instructor: Yeonsook Yoo
Instruction Language: Korean/English
Comments: Really really nice and always encouraging.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

International Law and Organisation

Course Department: Graduate School of Intl Studies
Instructor: Man Kwon Kim
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Definitely challenging and he took such good care of us personally as well – always made sure to ask how we were and understand if any circumstances were to come up. I definitely participated as much as I felt necessary and though it was a grad course and I was the only undergrad, he never made me feel lost or less in terms of knowledge. We wrote several papers which we received helpful and personalised feedback on!
Credit Transfer Issues: I don't think so - but my grades haven't fully transferred yet.