Korea – “oh it’s just another Asian country, I want to study in Europe.” I get that feeling from a lot of people. I’m going to lay a few out things about this place I’m sure you didn’t know, keeping it short, simple and sweet.
Why you should come to South Korea:
1. Koreans like to party
Forget Vegas, Mykonos or Ibiza. These places rely on international acts, ridiculous cover charges and expensive drinks to have a good time. Thursday to Sunday in Korea in the nightlife areas around Sogang University are just wild to say the least. You’ve got three main areas to choose from – Itaewon, Hong Dae, Sinchon and Gangnam so you’ve got endless restaurants, karaoke bars and clubs to choose from. My favourite – there’s this place called playground in Hong Dae which is literally an old playground with Korean people drinking soju, performing k-pop, dance and rap battles, hipsters doing their thing. Yes, Koreans work and study hard. But they play harder.
2. It’s dirt cheap
A big part of going on exchange is evaluating how far your money will go. For those of you who worked for your money I’m sure you don’t want to be seeing $13 Starbucks mochas like you’ll see in Switzerland or Norway. Even with a terrible exchange rate, it’s hard to feel the impact in Korea. Here are a few things I spend money on each week:
- A full set meal at the university (as much as you can fit on your food tray) for $3.80.
- A bottle of soju for $1.50 at any convenience store (One will do)
- Ten dumplings for $3
- Korean bbq for $8-$10
- Generally filtered water machines everywhere
- Unlimited kimchi free everywhere you eat
However, the downside is finding a wide variety of fresh produce like you do in Sydney. I find the range is limited – e.g. I cannot find green apples anywhere, and basic things like oranges can be very expensive.
3. The University Life!
If you’re staying on campus at Gonzaga Hall (the dormitories for international students), you’ll be attending all classes as they are compulsory. The classes are around 20 – 40 people and it’s a really fun, participative and engaging learning environment (I’m not even sucking up here). My favourite thing is finishing class and heading straight to the basketball court, soccer field, tennis court, gymnasium or going for a run around campus. You can borrow equipment for free, join societies to compete against other universities. It’s a very healthy lifestyle (apart from soju on every second day).
However, you must note that with dormitories here comes a ‘points system’ – for every bad thing you do, e.g. come after curfew hours, don’t clean your room before it’s inspected, do a backflip out the window, you’ll gain points. Once you hit 100 points you get ‘expelled’ from the dormitory. It can sometimes feel like you’re being mothered by the law. However I head some Aussie guy got over 700 points last semester and didn’t get kicked out. Your other option is to stay in a private room off-campus, which would cost a bit more than the dormitories here.
I strongly encourage you to look further into it as an option on your preference list. Safe travels!