Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea

Marcel G.

University: 
Study Period: 
Fall 2012
Academic Level: 
Bachelor
   
 

KoreaFrom the early August until the end of December I was studying in the capital of South Korea, to be precise at the Chung-Ang University in Seoul. Actually it was my first time travelling to Asia, so I was very excited. It was my intention and desire to experience something totally new, so I decided not to go to a European or ‘Western’ country. The first days are really flashing for someone who was never in Asia before, but after a few days you get  used to it, and after a while you nearly can´t imagine anymore how it is without all these neon signs everywhere and without all these people being always around you. Around 25 million people are living in the big area of Seoul (containing all the satellite cities like Incheon and Bucheon etc.).

Planning

The organisation of the whole semester took only a bit longer than half a year, although we were the first students going to Seoul via IS-Link. For South Korea there are not more things to do as for the most other countries. All I had to do was explained well in the instructions sent by the Chung-Ang University many weeks before our departure. So I could already take a look at the courses offered in English (no worries there are many courses for each major in English). I took care of the flights and the scholarship specific things but all in all it was an uncomplicated organisation.

Studying in Seoul

Studying in South Korea is a bit different from what I was used to from Germany. It´s more school-like, with little classes (20-60 people depending on the major) where attendance and participation is important. Often you have group works and presentations, as well as weekly quizzes or homeworks. Also very different from the German university system is the fact that you don’t only have a final exam, as it is the case for the most classes in Germany. In Korea there are midterms and final terms, which mostly count equal.Korea In addition to the grades you got in these exams, your attendance, your homeworks, your quizzes and presentations count to build your final grade. This looks like a lot of work, but this system gives you a lot of chances to improve your grade. The Chung-Ang University offered an ambassador program to help the incoming students with all the organisational stuff which has to be done after the arrival (Alien-ID registration, opening up a bank account etc.).  The international office also organised a bunch of trips for example to mount Bukhansan or to a traditional Korean folk village. All in all I can say they did a really good job with all these things to make the exchange students feel welcome.

Living in Seoul

KoreaIn my case, I was living in the dormitory which is a good decision if you are looking for contact with the other exchange students. Of course you can also choose to live on your own, but you have to keep in mind that Seoul is a very crowded place and the rental fees are higher than in Germany for example. When you decide to live in the ‘dorm’, you will share a room with another exchange student, or if you want with a Korean student. The dormitory itself is very clean and you can feel home easily there. Studying abroad of course doesn’t only mean to study allthe time. Seoul has a very active night life which pleases nearly anyone’s preference. Among students Hongdae is very popular, but Koreathere are also a lot of things to do in the (thanks to PSY) so famous Gangnam (picture) and many other areas in Seoul. The Korean food is very delicious, I would recommend everyone - even if you are not planning to go to Korea - to atleast visit a Korean restaurant if there is one nearby. In Seoul you often find streetfood shops in the streets which are selling delicious fried shrimps and other tasty stuff.

 

Travelling

Since Seoul has a central position in East Asia it isKorea easy to travel around if your budget allows it. Shanghai or Tokyo for example are only around 2 hours of flight away. The Philippines or Hong Kong are just 3-4 hours with the plane. Of course you don’t have to leave Korea to see beautiful places. Korea itself has a lot of nice cities and landscapes to offer. A popular destination is Busan, which lies directly at the coast and has nice beaches. The biggest island of South Korea, called Jeju, is lying down below the peninsula and has Mediterranean climate and a lot of interesting places to visit. I would definitely recommend visiting both, Busan as well as Jeju-Island.

KoreaAll in all I can say it was a very great time, and I´m really happy that I chose Seoul for my semester abroad. I met  and became friends with a lot of interesting people from all over the world, made a lot of Korean friends and learned many things about so many cultures. I will definitely go back to Korea soon. I would also recommend everyone who plans on going to Korea for more than a month to learn basic Korean phrases and being able to read Korean letters. Both can be really helpful, because as you leave the campus areas it often happens that not many people are speaking English.