An experience for the s(e)oul
One of the most valuable experiences during my time in University must be the months I spent abroad. And while I was lucky enough to go for an internship in Jakarta, I’ve always been curious for the whole exchange student experience. So, if you’re curious as well, or are just interested in student life in Seoul, please read on as this article will elaborate on exactly that!
- Maggie is 21 years old and lives in The Netherlands.
- She is a fourth-year creative multimedia and design student at Rotterdam’s University of Applied Sciences who decided to take some of her courses on the other side of the world.
- Her wanderlust landed her an exchange student spot at Kookmin University in the South-Korean capital.
- Maggie loves to hang out and read at cute coffee places.
- The love of her life is her dog Milo, the fattest and cutest Shaba inu I’ve ever seen.
During her five months in Seoul she has had quite the experience and today, she is sharing these with all of us #CAREERLIONS. So, without further ado, here are Maggie’s tips and tricks on student life in Seoul.
1. MK: “Get a head start before the semester begins and arrive a few days early. This way, you’ll have some time to get adjusted and get to know your way around before school starts. Stay at a hostel to meet new people. If your school offers dormitory for accommodation, definitely do so. That also makes it easier to meet new people and be surrounded by peers.”
2. MK : “Learn some Korean language basics as not everyone speaks English. Make sure you can at least order coffee and food at restaurants. In my case it was even more difficult as I had all my school courses in Korean. Fortunately, I was lucky to have a buddy that was able to translate everything. In other cases, meet up with the teacher to ask for a better understanding of the class.”
3. MK: “Before you go, check the school system and make sure the credits count. This did not go 100% right with me and therefore I have to make up for some credits. The culture at school is also very different, but is something you can research on beforehand. The relationship between teachers and students is very well, which I was positively surprised with. In the Netherlands teachers are very approachable and are treated like peers by the students, while in Korea students are very careful and respectful towards their teachers.”
4. MK: “Have an open attitude and make sure you’re open to new experiences as that is the way you’ll make memories. You never know what you’ll like and you never will, whenever you’re not willing to try. It has helped me a lot to get a lot more social and open than I was before.”
5. MK: “As you’re far away from home, be prepared that things will not go smoothly all the time. Some moments you’re lost, or lonely and homesick. For those moments, be patient, because it will always get better when some time passes. The few times I was a bit homesick Facetime was helpful. The only thing that was difficult at times was the time difference (8 hours with NL). Furthermore, I was lucky enough that my friends came over.”
6. MK: “Make sure to stay a bit longer so you can travel a bit after the semester. During my time abroad, I also travelled to Japan and Thailand, which also added to the whole experience.”
7. MK: “A nice place to go for students are the university areas of the city, like Hongdae and Sinchon. Everything is a lot more affordable there like for example the food and the shopping. A lot of internationals go here as well, so it’s a nice casual and open vibe.”
8. MK: “Don’t be too hard on yourself when it comes to the actual work load from school. I enrolled into four courses and was initially planning to do more. But you will need some time as well to experience everything else besides school. At first I thought the courses were most important, but along the way I learned that the free time was actually when the memorable things took place.”
9. MK: “Live like a local. In the beginning, everything is a bit overwhelming and new which means you want to try out everything. Try to balance eating out and cooking from the beginning as it is the more healthy and affordable option. Sounds boring, but you’ll have to watch your money if you’re planning to stay for a few months and want to travel. Another easy way to save money is to skip the after- clubbing food. It can also be fun to buy some drinks at one of the many 7 elevens and stay in with some friends. However, when you do find yourself with only your girlfriends on a Tuesday night, go to Fountain Bar in Itaewon. It’s open bar for ladies on Tuesday’s.”
10. MK: “Clubbing is most fun in Hongdae, as that is a real student area. Another plus is there is no dress code. It’s nice to start the night at a bar (with affordable drinks) called Thursday Party and continue the night at a nice club like Noise Basement or Madholic. Decided not to save on after clubbing food? Make sure to try the chicken skewer street food or the bulgogi pizza at Mafia.”
Now back in The Netherlands, Maggie looks back at a great experience. If offered the chance, she would definitely consider going abroad again. Interested in her work? Check out her portfolio. What are you experiences studying abroad? Share with us in the comments below!