Choosing to come to South Korea will be one of the most spontaneous and wild decisions that I have ever made. It has almost been 3 weeks since I have lived in this country and all I can say is, I am in LOVE. If I could give you one advice, that is to DO IT.
South Korea really does have an interesting culture, food and lifestyle that I could rave about it all day. I find walking down the neighbouring streets alone is fascinating, as you will notice that there is so much to see. From underground restaurants and bars, to really high buildings with many restaurants and businesses stacked into one. You will also notice that as you walk into the supermarkets, the security guard will acknowledge your presence and do a slight bow. Restaurants will give you an abundance of complimentary side dishes to to eat from and the best thing about it, its refillable!
However, be aware that there are hardly any public rubbish bins! It can be very frustrating at times. Anyways, I don’t want to spoil anything for you by listing too much of the little things that I have noticed or discovered…as I want you to enjoy the experiences here yourself. So be prepared to be surprised! So keep an open mind and heart when you come here. Soak up the atmosphere and uniqueness of this country and enjoy it!
Now…I know you’re probably wondering…so what’s the academic life here? I’ve listed them in dot points below so it’s easier to read.
Academic life (These will vary on the subjects you take)
- You will be required to take 5 subjects (that’s if you don’t do the Korean language academic course), so choose them wisely but also be prepared for changes as I had to change twice. The first change was when I tried to enrol online and the original subject I wanted had no classes so I had to pick another one. The other change was during my first week here, I realised the class was not right for me.
- The teaching style here is completely different to UTS. They take attendance very seriously. The classes you take will have their own separate rules but the universal rule is, there will be consequences especially if you are over 15 mins late (etc. marking you as absent even if you turn up later).
- Each lecturer will have a TA (teaching assistant) to help them with marking attendance or if you have any miscellaneous questions you may contact them or the lecturer.
- There is a sitting plan here. Whichever seat you choose on the first day will be your seat for the entire semester.
- Classes run twice a week for one subject and it is taught in a lecture setting.
- I’m currently taking a class called “English Syntax” and it is actually really interesting but really, really stressful. We cover sentences and the English language in depth. A lot of new terminology is thrown in this class, and we even draw these tree diagrams to illustrate our understandings. We compare all different types of languages in the world to English, and many times my lecturer would write Hangul on the board to demonstrate his purpose too. It’s actually really hectic. It’s stressful especially for me, as I made a mistake of not reading the syllabus properly before signing up. I completely missed the part where they said this course required ‘prerequisite of X subject’. So don’t be like me.
Overall my experiences here has been great. It has been great especially due to the people that I’ve met. I highly suggest that you live on campus, because you will make a ton of friends. I made so many friends here that it has been so overwhelming. Everyone is just so friendly! Remember to like and join any facebook groups relevant to the semester you study. That way you can keep up to dates with who’s doing what.
This year, one of the students created a massive Kakao chat and there are constant updates on what people’s plans are and all you do is turn up and explore with your new friends. It’s as simple as that! You will make and meet people everywhere; In the elevator, the walk to your room or even simply as you take out the rubbish. It’s funny, but when you live in the dorm you will consistently bump into people and consistently interact.
I also suggest that you sign up and be apart of the H.U.G social club. It is where the Korean students at Sogang university organise events for the local students to hang out with the exchange students. They plan really interesting events regularly. I’ve only been to one so far (as seen in the picture below/Naksan Park) but there will be one almost every week.
Oh, one more final advice that you must take with you especially if you plan to live on campus. Make sure when you to arrive to check in, that you ask your taxi driver to be dropped off at “SOGANG UNIVERSITY BACK GATE”. I repeat “BACK GATE” (서강대학교후문). You do not want to be dropped off at the front gate and walk up a massive hill with your massive luggage. My roommate and I learnt it the very hard way…I mean the back gate also has a hill but it is a shorter distance to your dormitory compared to the front gate.
Anyways, I hope you also enjoy your experiences here as much I do.
Bachelor of Education (Primary)
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au