Thinking about studying abroad in South Korea? Here are tips and recommendations for you from a Study Abroad and Global Engagement Peer Advisor who has studied abroad in South Korea twice!
WHAT… Study Abroad Program Should I Choose?
If you are studying Korean Language then Sogang University’s Summer Language Intensive is a great short-term program to enhance your Korean language skills. Sogang’s Language Intensive is a 10-week program where students can receive up to 10 credit hours of Korean language in just one summer! Over a three-month period, not only will you receive in-class learning, but also receive a total immersion experience in the Korean language.
If you are looking for a semester or academic year program, a few recommendations are: Korea University, Yonsei University, or Hongik University.
Ranked among the top 200 universities worldwide; Korea University is one of the two oldest universities in the country.
For all the K-Drama lovers, Yonsei University is for you. Not only is Yonsei very beautiful and located right in front of a mountain, the main building is a featured film location in several K-Dramas. Yonsei University is a hot spot full of foreigners, and so the University includes a very wide range of courses taught in English.
Students in the School of the Arts are recommended to check out Hongik University. Hongik University is located in a popular area called Hongdae. In Hongdae, busking is a must-see and once in a while even a celebrity has shown up for busking or a mini pop-up concert.
A fantastic aspect of the studying abroad through the University of Kansas is that many students from South Korea will study abroad in Kansas, so you can definitely make a friend before going abroad!
WHAT… Activities Should I Do While in South Korea?
Seoul is a huge metropolis with endless activities to enjoy. A few activities that may be more expensive are 1 Million Dance Studio, Everland Theme Park, and Namsan Tower.
Over the past few years, 1 Million Dance Studio has become a famous tourist activity. 1 Million is known for working with many K-Pop Idols and the choreographers have become somewhat of celebrities themselves. A single class at 1 Million is around $35 USD.
For a fun day trip, Everland Theme Park is located about 40 minutes outside of Seoul. There are buses that go straight to Everland from Seoul about twice an hour. The scenery is incredible and the rides are exhilarating. Entry prices are around $50-65 USD.
Pro Tip: Download the theme park app; as fast pass isn’t a ticket type, but a option for anyone to reserve with the app.
Another tourist favorite is Namsan Tower, also referred to as N Seoul Tower. Located in Myeongdong, Seoul, tourists can hike up or take a cable car up to the tower. Once you’re at the tower, you can take an elevator up to the observatory area and overlook the beautiful city of Seoul. Namsan Tower is also known for Love Locks. Couples will often go up on dates to put a Love Lock on the fences at the bottom of Namsan Tower. The cable car round trip ticket and the ticket to go up to the observatory in Namsan Tower are each approximately around $15 USD.
Less expensive options for activities include animal cafes, Karaoke Rooms (노래방), and going to the movies.
WHERE.. Should I Stay While Abroad?
Dorms are definitely the best option as you are able to meet more students and it is easier to keep up on events happening on campus. However, dorms do tend to fill up fast and some summer programs do not offer dorms. We recommend to check in with your SAGE coordinator to confirm housing availability and to apply early if dorms are offered.
Another cheap option are Goshiwons which are very small rooms with a small bed, desk, chair, and storage space. Depending on which room you reserve, there are options to have a private bathroom. Kitchen spaces and laundry are shared common spaces and depending on the owners they may provide detergent and snacks.
A common option for friends going together is to share an apartment. Apartments do tend to be more expensive and can require large safety deposits.
Checking AirBnb or goshipages.com is a great way to find deals on housing!
WHERE… Should I Travel?
Public transportation is very clean and reasonably priced making traveling within the peninsula very accessible, especially for weekend trips.
For BTS stans and/or Gong Yoo fans, Gangneung is a must. Not only are the beaches less crowded and the raw fish restaurants incredibly delicious, but the picture taking opportunities are supreme. Located in Gangneung is the BTS Bus Stop from their ‘You Never Walk Alone’ album and the famous scene location from the K-Drama, Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. Gangneung also has a famous street right beside the beach that is lined-up with many different cafes.
For history buffs, Gwangju and Panmunjom are going to be your cup of tea. Gwangju has many exhibits and locations to learn about the Gwangju Democratic Uprising.
Pro Tip: If you do visit the 5.18 Final Resting Place, bring tissues!
Probably the most famous historical site, that still makes history everyday, is Panmunjom or better known as the DMZ. At the DMZ, you can get a glimpse into North Korea.
Pro Tip: Wear comfortable shoes!
WHEN… Should I Go Abroad to South Korea?
Spring Semesters will include three different seasons: winter, spring, and summer. January and February are still the winter season followed by spring time which tends to be very short in South Korea. However, the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms is an event no one should miss. I recommend going to the Everland Theme Park during Cherry Blossom season as Everland is surrounded by trees and mountains; the scenery becomes absolutely beautiful.
Summer definitely has many events taking place. A favorite is the Water Gun Festival, usually takes place around summer midterms. In many parts of Seoul, loud music will play as large groups of people in swimsuits will spray water guns and dance. Summer also has a bit of monsoon season, so always have an umbrella just in case!
Fall Semester is incredibly beautiful with trees changing color and slowly heading into Winter. Fall Semester also has a fun line-up of holidays! Korean Thanksgiving takes place in September, so be on the lookout for the immense amount of Spam Gift Sets in stores. Next, Halloween is like a huge party especially if you hang out in Itaewon. Later on, when Christmas rolls around; couples will celebrate instead of the western tradition of celebrating with family. Therefore, couples are everywhere, but even more so the lights and decorations plaster buildings and walkways. Winter in South Korea can get very cold so be sure to wear the popular long padded coats.