Exchange Program-Korea

Sungkyunkwan University

Student Experience - Korea

Exchange Student, Yuiko Miyazaki

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), Korea – Fall 2008

“The greatest thing was finding out many differences between the Korean and Japanese cultures. Students can enjoy living in Korea without knowing the language, but when needing to order the food they want, and ask for something they need, it will be very difficult.”

The Korean embassy in Hawaii was where I applied for a VISA.  When I went there, they gave me forms to fill out.  I just filled out the forms over there, and handed in my passport. Then, I received VISA the next day.  The SKKU, prior to my departure, sent me information about when I would be able to start living in the dormitory.  In my case, I was not sure when I would come back to Hawaii, so I first bought a one-way ticket which was more expensive than round-way tickets.  Once I arrived, I met a Korean student from SKKU at the airport.  She was waiting for me in front of the arrival gate, so I did not miss it.  Then, she took me to my dormitory by using public transportation.

There was an orientation held at SKKU.  They explained about university, such as policy, history, club activities, and Korean language programs.  They also helped us to open bank account and fill out documents for alien registration.  I selected classes and registered before my arrival in Korea.  Also, after arrival, stuff helped students who had not registered.  Classes that are taught in English are very limited, so I recommend future students to be flexible about classes.  Then, you will not be disappointed if you cannot take the classes you are interested in.  The International Office is the one where I can get helps whenever I had problems.

The dormitory is next to campus, and it is furnished.  It cost $300 per month including water and electricity.  It is very clean and all of necessary things for living are provided except for food. You can cook your meals in the kitchen.  Also, there are many restaurants and take out shops nearby the dormitory, so you can eat there, too.  On campus there is a Cafeteria, coffee shops, and some resting and chatting rooms; some are free.  There is access to computers and the internet in the library, but you have to pay for printing.  Also, the health center on campus is open from the early morning until 9pm.

To make phone calls I used Skype, which is internet calling on your computer.  Also, on the first floor, there are two phones that can be used for international calls.  The local currency is won.  $1 is about 800won (last year’s rate, maybe different when you decide to go, so check).  For access to money, I withdrew money at the ATM using my international credit cards.  An exchange student would spend about 500,000won - 800,000won per month.

I do not speak Korean fluently, but I tried to talk in Korean when I communicated with local people.  Some people just ignored or frowned about what I said.  It hurt.  Students can enjoy living in Korea without knowing the language, but when they need to order what food they want, and ask for something they need, it will be very difficult.  English is not widely used.

The greatest thing was finding out many differences between the Korean and Japanese cultures.  This is amazing.  Places I recommend future exchange students see are Dongdemun, Nundemun, and Korean palaces.  I would love to come back here to learn Korean again.  If you would like to speak a local language, what better way to do it than to be in the country?  To anyone planning on doing a study abroad in Korea, it will be fun to see Korean life and make Korean friends.