Soonchunhyang UniversityStudent Experience - Korea
Exchange Student, Mark Duckett
Soonchunhyang University, Korea – Fall 2007
“The language barrier can be frustrating at times. English is not widely used, so when venturing off into the city on the weekends make sure you know where you’re going or have a Korean speaker guide you.”
In order obtain a visa, I went to the Korean consulate with my passport, acceptance letter, application and paid forty dollars. It took one day to process, and it was good for multiple entries. Soonchunhyang University only sent me my acceptance letter prior to my departure. For flight arrangements, I used frequent flyer miles for my trip, so I am not exactly sure how much the ticket costs in dollars. I used about 60,000 points on Northwest which covered the cost of my airfare. Once I arrived in Korea, I met up with other international students, and a host from the school at the airport in front of the KFC. We ate at the McDonalds before leaving. We caught a bus that took us near the school, and then took a van that drove us the rest of the way to our dorms. The orientation consisted of a tour around the campus, introductions of each other, and lots of paper work. The paper work included bank applications, cell phone registration and our alien registration.
Classes started on August 27th and ends on December 17th. I selected classes prior to arriving. I would recommend you talk with your advisor and see which classes are best to take according to your own major. The classes I chose were available. I enjoy calligraphy because you learn how to write characters correctly. The atmosphere of the class is laid back, and you go at your own pace. It’s a fun course that I would recommend to anyone else interested in drawing or script. Compared with classes at HPU the classes taught at Soonchunhyang are much less demanding. My business class moves at a slow pace, and I receive little to no homework. The Korean classes are probably the toughest so far since taking up a new language is always difficult. Still the expectations set for exchange students are not extremely high. The office in the foreign language building, where most of your classes will be, is the main one you will get familiar with. During orientation you will meet the staff who is more than willing to help you.
The dorms are located in Global Village a building set back on the top of the hill near the back gate of campus. You will have a Korean roommate in your personal room, and will share a suite with 10 other students. There are two bathrooms between the 12 of you, and a couch with a TV. You cannot cook in your dorms so you eat out a lot say in the cafeteria or in town. Either way it is inexpensive. One meal at the cafeteria is $2 whereas in town you can get a decent meal for as little as $4. The currency is called won. Basically 1,000 won is equivalent to $1 (U.S).
You can use the pay phones in the lobby at Global Village with a calling card. The school sets you up with a cell phone at the beginning of the semester, or you can ask a Korean friend to help you buy a used phone somewhere in Seoul. I recommend getting Skype on your computer because it allows you to make international calls at a low cost. You can exchange money at the airport once you arrive, and also at the bank located on campus. There are ATMs on campus that allows you to use foreign bank cards, but charge a small fee. You are given a bank card once you open your bank account here in Korea, and can take out money anywhere in Korea. On average an exchange student would spend about $100 per month.
English is not widely used, so when venturing off into the city on the weekends make sure you know where you’re going or have a Korean speaker guide you. Getting around school is no problem; the students have studied English since elementary school. English levels of students vary so you will encounter those who do not speak English very well.
The facilities and recreation activities available at the University are track and field, baseball and soccer field, one free gym; one gym is $60 for the semester or $2 a day. There’s a billiard room and ping pong. There is a student lounge in the same building as your dorms with free computers and internet access. The lounge in the foreign language building also has computers with internet access and a printer. The school clinic is nearby and can provide you with basic health care problems. The hospital is about 30-40 minutes away.
I recommend going to Hongdae which is a University town with many college students around. It’s where all the clubs are and exciting bars are located, and perhaps going to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). Only the language barrier can be frustrating at times. The greatest point during my exchange was meeting new people especially the Koreans. Experiencing the culture and all Korea has to offer basically. My experience so far has been great. You will have more fun if you’re open-minded and enjoy trying new things. I would definitely come back. To any student thinking of participating in an exchange at Soonchunhyang, do it! It’s an experience that you might never have the opportunity to do again.