My name is Caroline Kim and I am currently on exchange at Korea University for a semester. Although it’s only been three weeks since I’ve been here it has been, by far, the most exciting, exhilarating and invigorating experience. Since those of you that are reading this blog are also students like myself who are interested in exchanging to Korea/Korea university – I’ll try to answer all the questions I myself had prior to applying and after having been accepted.
I’m exchanging at Korea University for the law part of my degree and as all you law students would probably be aware by now, if you study law – you have to go on exchange for law and that cuts down the list of hundreds of partner universities to a very small circle (from my memory around 10-15). But even then, Korea university and Yonsei university really aren’t options for you unless you are capable of reading and writing Korean at a university level – this is because the undergraduate law school has changed to a post graduate law school and so it is essentially a ‘dying’ course and so whilst there are still a fair few law classes you can take, you must be prepared to study and sit your exams in Korean. If you are not a strong Korean speaker I really strongly advise against applying for a Korean university.
For those of you that are looking to apply to Korea University who aren’t studying law – go for it!
A secret rooftop garden/hang out I found on one of the buildings at KU.
EXCHANGE PROGRAM AT KU
I’m not sure how other universities have set out their exchange programs but I feel as though Korea University has a system that creates an environment that really allows all exchange students to feel included. As soon as I arrived at the KU orientation, all exchange students were split into 7 groups of roughly 60-80 students per group and every week would hold one lunch, one dinner and a group activity on the weekend. These lunches and dinners allow exchange students to find the good and cheap restaurants around Anam (main area you will be hanging out at night/during breaks at uni). The group activities on the weekends allow you to experience the Korean culture and do ‘touristy’ activities (some of these include the Buddhism expo, temple stay, lotte world etc.). On top of this, from before the orientation you will be contacted (usually via email) by your buddy. Each buddy is generally assigned 4-6 exchange students and they will help answer all the administrative and general questions/be your first ‘Korean’ friend at exchange. The buddy also organizes separate group activities for the other exchange students that they are ‘buddied’ with once every 2-3 weeks for activities that are better suited to smaller groups of people. You will also be slotted into a new group within your big group for ‘language buddies’ where you will interact with other people in your group and teach them English as you attempt to learn Korean (but really you just hang out with them and have fun J).
So written above is a very generic run through of the formalities that KU undertakes for exchange students however, even apart from these groups that KU makes for you, you will make a whole heap of new friends from all over the world. And since everyone is on exchange, everyone is more than willing to make new friends and have fun and do touristy things with you! I know just before coming here, I was scared of not making friends and of not fitting in, but it honestly is highly unlikely because everyone is just lovely and so willing to meet people. And within the first couple weeks, there will always be exchange parties to go to inclusive of all exchange students that are studying in Seoul that semester.
So KU offers an exchange program that really ensures that all their exchange students feel included and have an absolute ball.
Gyong-buk-goong palace that KU exchange program (KUBA) guided.
NIGHTLIFE IN SEOUL
Being of Korean background, I’ve been to Seoul a many number of times and gone out but every single time I am amazed at how crazy/fun the nightlife in Seoul is. It is a completely different environment to Sydney nightlife. Korean culture itself has a very strong drinking culture. In Korea their drinking culture is that they will have different ‘stages’ or ‘rounds’. So the initial round would most usually be dinner accompanied with alcohol (Soju or Makgeoli) and then after dinner you go round 2 to a different restaurant and just drink and play drinking games etc. this will usually continue for anywhere between 3-6 rounds. The first exchange party I went to, they drank for 10 hours…
Of course, there is also a clubbing culture in Korea. Korean clubs are completely different to Australian clubs. Most clubs play EDM unless you go to a club that specifically plays pop/hiphop/rnb and the only way for me to really explain how good and crazy clubs are in Korea is that most of the time when I leave the club, the sun has already risen (6AM). And the club stays full (on a Friday night) till about 5AM and it starts to empty out around then.
So Korean clubs and nightlife/drinking culture is something that even if you don’t come on exchange you should experience at least once in your life.
Nights out with new and wonderful exchange friends and local KU students!
I was unsuccessful in my application for a dormitory on campus at KU and at first I was worried that I would have to find individual accommodation on my own but KU has a great system where they offer unsuccessful students accommodation close to the university known as a ‘gositel’ but really is like a dorm but you get your own room and depending on the gositel may or may not get a private bathroom. But for a temporary stay these are absolutely perfect and in my opinion are better than dormitories in that they are easier to get to as opposed to the massive hill you need to hike if you’re staying in the CJ international house. Also, there are close to 0 rules in the gositels whereas if you’re staying in the dorms you’re subject to spot checks, curfews and no visitors past 10PM. So if you’re unsuccessful in your accommodation don’t fret, KU will sort you out with accommodation that’s better than the dorms at KU.
My room at the ‘gositel’!
I think this covers the basic questions all of you will have but if you have any specific questions that you’d like answered, please don’t hesitate to contact me on: firstname.lastname@example.org