Starting my New Colombo Plan Program in Seoul!

I am currently in my fifth year of a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Business  (Accounting) degree and one of 120 university students to receive the 2018 New Colombo Plan Scholarship. The New Colombo Plan scholarship has allowed me to undertake a Korean language intensive program for three weeks at Yonsei University, followed by a semester exchange at Korea University and then two internships.

Yonsei University Intensive Language Program:
I completed my Korean language intensive program at Yonsei University in February 2018. The New Colombo Plan scholarship encourages and funds scholars to complete full-time language programs in order to not only connect with the local culture, but also to assist scholars on a practical level by giving them the skills needed to undertake basic tasks such as navigating the city.  This is especially important when there is not a lot of English available and it helps scholars settle into their new environment.

I arrived at my new home in Seoul on 1 February 2018 on a crisp winter night. During my program at Yonsei University I stayed with several other students at off campus accommodation arranged by the university. Whilst the accommodation was great, after all we were living in a serviced apartment, this did make it difficult to get to know the other students in the program. Lucky, as soon as classes begun, some four days after my arrival, I was able to get to know a range of amazing people from all across the world. Fortuitously, I also met a student from El Salvador that would be going to Korea University with me.

(Outside the front of Yonsei University during my last week of the intensive language program)

The Yonsei University program is certainly intense, but very rewarding. Already, I can see the benefits of this language training coming to fruition through the little things, like reading bus timetables and menus that are written only in Korean. Unlike some international summer or winter schools, the focus of Yonsei’s program was to learn Korean rather than foster relationships between students. Although this means that your language skills progress rapidly, it also reiterated a notion I found to often be true, you have to be the driver of your own participation. As there are little to no social activities set up for students, you have to be responsible for how involved you will be in the culture and how much you want to get out of the experience.

With the support of the NCP scholarship, I was able to make the most of my winter in Seoul by undertaking activities that I would otherwise be unable to participate in. Particularly, this applied to learning how to ski – a goal I have had for a while. I found my Korean ski instructor to be so helpful that I became somewhat overconfident and ended up on a slightly too advanced run for my skills set. Fortunately, I walked away only damaging my pride. Overall, I had a wonderful experience at the Yonsei University language program.

(Learning to ski at Jisan Resort)

You can follow my experience as a New Colombo Plan scholar on Instagram at travel_life_sarah.

5 Must-Have Apps When Studying Abroad in South Korea

Marisa K, Bachelor of Journalism / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)

Korea University (Semester 1, 2018)

Travelling to a foreign country for the first time is daunting for anyone. Seoul is a fantastic city that has a lot of delicious food to eat, interesting things to do and beautiful places to visit. However, navigating the city and making plans can be tough, especially if you don’t speak Korean. Luckily, there are several smartphone apps that will make studying and making friends in Korea so much easier.

Here are 5 apps you can download for free that will make your life in Korea infinitely easier!

1. KakaoTalk


This is the number one messaging app in South Korea and it should be one of the first things you download as a newcomer to the country. Everyone and anyone has this app in Korea and trust me, it will become the main way you communicate with your new friends whilst studying abroad.

The app allows you to communicate with other KakaoTalk users through text and call and lets you send photos and videos all free of charge as long as you have an internet connection.

2. Naver Map


Google Maps is virtually inexistent in South Korea – the local version Naver Map is the more reliable and detailed map service to use. This interactive map application also allows you to download the maps beforehand for offline use. It also has a handy feature that lets you save and download locations in Korean which is useful for when you’re lost and want to show the address to a friendly local to get help with directions. The only downside is that you’ll need to be able to read and type in Hangul as the app is only available in Korean.

3. Subway Korea


Korea has one of the most organised and easiest to navigate subway systems in the world. However, the Subway Korea app makes it even easier. This app is available in English and Korean. Download it on your phone to navigate the quickest route to your destination with minimum transfers, receive information on when the next train will arrive, when the first and last trains are for the day, and which carriage you should be on for the quickest transfer. Subway stations in Seoul can be quite crowded and you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out the subway map posters so a few simple clicks are all it takes with the Subway Korea app to get you to where you want to go.

4. KakaoTaxi


Although Korea’s public transportation system is world-class, there will definitely be situations where you won’t be able to use the subway or buses (for example, in the early hours of the morning). KakaoTaxi has you covered for those situations. No matter where you are in Korea, this ride-hailing app is cheap, fast and convenient and will have a taxi dispatched to your location within minutes. The app works similarly to Uber and is a safe alternative option to public transport.

5. Yogiyo


Let’s face it, as an exchange student in Korea there’ll be many times when you find yourself hungry but too lazy to leave your room. Yogiyo lets you easily order anything and have it delivered straight to you – Chinese, pizza, Burger King, and even ice cream and desserts. You can also read recommendations and reviews for restaurants and the app has real food pictures so you can see what you’re ordering.

From towering city streets to ski fields and mountains, cultural and historical experiences, plenty of delicious food to eat there’ll be many amazing memories you’ll make whilst on exchange in South Korea! Just be sure to download these helpful apps to help you make the most of your exchange experience!

Spend your summer exploring Seoul

Jiwon L, Bachelor of Design (Honours)

Korea University – International Winter Campus (Dec 2016– Jan 2017)

Korea University is one of the highest ranked universities in the world in a variety study areas. The campus is filled with historical and incredible gothic-style architecture. As an architecture student, looking around the campus was a great opportunity to experience the sights and also outside of campus there were so many great high-rise buildings I wouldn’t be able to find back in Brisbane, Australia.

Staying at Korea University’s dormitory was very enjoyable, meeting new friends from other cultures. I have built such a strong relationship with my roommates, so we went out to travel Seoul together outside the campus.  We went to Dongdaemoon to see one of my favourite architect’s work, Zaha Hadid, during the weekends and other cities and enjoyed the culture of Seoul. As Seoul is one of the top cities that has highly developed transport, it was very easy to travel inner cities without spending a lot of money.

I have met very warm and welcoming friends from different places and cultures and sharing this experience with them was such a wonderful experience that I am not likely to have in life again. If you are a student who loves travel and exploring busy cities, Korea University in Seoul is the perfect place to be.

Clarice’s South Korean Short-Term Exchange Experience

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Program 2016

As a student in Seoul, I find it to be so much cheaper than being a student in Brisbane; especially when it comes to our daily food and caffeine needs. I would barely spend over 10,000won (about AUD11-12) a day while I was studying there and it would cover all my breakfast, lunch and dinner needs. If you’re lazy enough, you could always buy convenience store lunchboxes (which can have things like rice, meat and kimchi) for 3,000-3,800won (AUD4-5) and it is very filling.

Samgyeopsal

And of course, when one is in Seoul, one would need to try the famous “Samgyeopsal” (or “pork belly”) which is the slab of meat in the middle. I find that Korean meats taste vastly different (and honestly, a lot better) from Australian meats. For this meal, we usually barbecue the meats on the plate and accompany it with a few drinks (no guesses as to what those drinks are) and lots of lettuce, to balance the flavour of meat and vegetables. Generally, a meal like this would cost about AUD70, but I had it for about 30,000won (around AUD32) for 3 people.

Painfully cheap….and something I will never get while I’m back in Brisbane.

I would say that Seoul is a wonderful place for an overseas study experience, because it is so different from Australia in terms of culture and student life, and EWHA Woman’s University is an amazing place to find out a lot more about feminist issues (such as the unending justice for the “comfort” women during the Japanese invasion) and that, being feminist does not necessarily mean the Western view of loud and proud feminism, but rather, a social issue that has to be faced with quiet dignity in order to make the world a better place for not only women, but men too.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the male professors and most of the male students who were there for the co-ed summer program were also genuine feminists and supported many social issues that women still face.

My time in EWHA has certainly changed me for the better, and helped me in recognising many aspects of myself as a woman that I never knew existed. I will always fondly remember my time there as a student and if given the chance, would not hesitate to do a longer exchange program next time round. I also highly recommend the EWHA Woman’s University International Co-ed Summer College to anyone interested, because I guarantee you will come away learning so much more than just academically.

Does Clarice’s experience interest you? Find out more about QUT’s Short Term Study Options.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA's very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA’s very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Clarice’s South Korean Short Term Exchange – Summer ’16

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Summer Program 2016 

Originally, it never crossed my mind to apply for the summer program in EWHA Woman’s University when my friend from Singapore told me she had applied for it in January; but then I received the email about opportunities in the short-term mobility program from QUT and I thought, “Why not?”

EWHA Woman’s University is located in Seoul, South Korea around Seodaemun and is a very large and beautiful campus. The campus has a convenience stores, different places to eat depending on your mood, a gym, library and my personal favourite: the sleeping area, where the students go to rest and sleep during particularly stressful semesters.

This is the main feature of EWHA University: the “walls” that actually houses all the tutorial rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, a very big auditorium, convenience stores, a few cafes, a gym, library, computer room, optometrists and many other things.

EWHA University - "The Walls"

EWHA University – “The Walls”

This is also actually a major tourist landmark and you would often see tourists just come and take photos of themselves standing on this very spot (which can be rather obstructive for those of us running late to class).

 

For the summer program, I took up Korean traditional history and Korean Language classes (which were very tough but at least I can read Korean now). The one thing that stuck out most to me during my time in EWHA was the fact that they put a lot of emphasis and encouragement into empowering women to be excellent in their respective fields, and be dignified feminists.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

The view of EWHA University’s entrance from the coffee shop opposite.

Even in such a short time in EHWA, I have realized my identity as a female who would go out into the world to make a difference, no matter how small, without losing myself. It is a wonderful realisation to know that you are not alone in trying to figure yourself out amongst so many supportive females in one place and to have a sense of belonging even in a university which I was in for only a month.

Find out more information on QUT’s Short Term Study Options.

Best 4 months of my life

Korea and the friends I've made

Korea and the friends I’ve made

Over the course of 4 months, I got to visit a lot of places all over Japan; I only regret I hadn’t done more travelling. There were beautiful castles and temples, theme parks that made the ones here look small, mountains that had a great view and hidden locations a little off the beaten track. I even got to go to Seoul, South Korea for a few days since it was so close. There were places I had only ever seen through a screen or read about, sights I hadn’t even imagined before, I even developed an interest in nature from all the hiking and nature viewing I did.

There was always something new I wanted to see, but time only got less as the semester went on and I was more than satisfied with the amount of sightseeing I had done anyway.The best part of travelling however, wasn’t the the beautiful sights, rather it was the friends that I had been travelling with. Friends that I could have stayed with for a lifetime, continually travelling together and seeing new places.

At the end of the exchange, I left with a heavy heart, but at the same time I couldn’t have been happier after all the things I was able to experience. I didn’t have a single worry while in Japan. Things like finance and studies (and to an extent security, whoo Japan) never bothered me. Not that it would have since I could get by on a little over $1000 a month including accommodation and the classes were easy enough that I don’t think I studied for more than 2 hours the whole semester.

It was the best 4 months of my life and the friends I made I’ll hold dear to me. There’s no way I could share it all and not have it be too long a read, the best thing to do is to find out for yourself. If there was a downside, it was that it couldn’t have been longer.

Dorm-Sharing with more than 100 students

On arrival, despite my preparations in learning the language from about a year before, I got lost in the airport immediately and this was not the last time such a thing happened. Although I was flustered at the time, I can now look back on times like these times fondly. Eventually I found welcomers from my host institution in Osaka, Kansai Gaikoku Daigakku or Kansai Gaidai, who after making sure everyone was accounted for took us to our dorms.

5

Entrance to the University

The dorms were a new experience to me, since I’ve always lived at home and rarely spend the night away from my own bed. Having a roommate and more than 100 other people living inside the dorm, sharing kitchen, bathrooms, laundry it was pretty amazing to say the least. Here I made a lot of friends with people from all over the world, even though I was still meeting new faces more than a month after my arrival. Before orientation started, I decided to take a look around the university’s main campus, which if I had to describe in 1 word it was beautiful. The grounds were well-kept and clean, and the buildings honestly had a nice aesthetic to them. By no means was it a large university, though I found out later there were at least 13,000 people attending, and I never visited the second campus, everything you needed was situated nicely inside the university. There was even a Mcdonalds right underneath a convenience store and a bookshop.

Personal advice on living in Korea

Cost of living

With the bursary money I was very comfortable financially. I was also receiving Centrelink money from Australia which paid for my rent and food so I actually saved more money than when I left. Everything is cheaper in Korea and the food is cheaper. My rent was 380 000 won per month and electricity bill was included so it’s around 380 dollars a month. Buses and train are cheap and alcohol is very cheap too.

Possible Issues

Sometimes the menu in Korea will be written in Korean language, so if you cannot read you put a burden on the waiter if the shop is busy and you are attempting to speak Korean and they would be attempting to speak English. Another thing to be careful when crossing the road late at night, after around midnight, taxies just drive through the lights even if it’s red. This can prove to be a problem if you have been in the library all night and are probably too sleepy to check the road before crossing. Keep in mind that the cars drive on the left side compared to Australia. Also, be sure to register with the government when you arrive as if you don’t after 90 days you will become and illegal resident.

Final Words

Make sure you don’t miss classes but do as much touring as quick as possible as time flies when you’re having fun. Make as many friends as possible cause they will become friends for life. Visit the DMZ it’s a great tour and Bussan is very good as well. Have as much fun as possible and don’t be shy. GET A LOCAL BANK CARD AND AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL CARD!!

Manga Drawing and Anime Analytical Class?!?

Students at Korea University

Students at Korea University

At the time of my arrival, the Japanese students were still on summer vacation and started class a week after we did. I used up my electives for this semester, though looking back I would’ve tried to save some for a second semester. I did get to immediately start sightseeing however and visited Osaka castle and other sites in and around my area. I took Japanese language classes, a manga drawing class and anime analytical class for a total of 4 classes.

Before my exchange, it seemed unbelievable these were classes, but I took them and had a lot of fun than I could have imagined with them, except for the anime class, which was basically if English class in high school had done anime, albeit you probably wouldn’t watch as much anime in class nor would you probably skip it so much. At the university, the Japanese students and the exchange students usually took different classes, but sometimes Japanese students would take the same classes as us.

The university had a heavy focus on international studies, so it encouraged interactions between exchange and Japanese students. I got to visit Japanese classes, take part in Halloween with everyone else, talked to more Japanese students than I thought I had the courage to and took part in a bunch of events organised by the Japanese students. There was even a room in the building where all the exchange students had their classes where we would wait in until class time or just hang out in and Japanese students would often visit us just to talk (or get us to help with their English homework). From just a conversation, we would go to get lunch at either 1 of the 3 cafeterias or Mcdonalds and from there we’d hang out sometime outside of university.

Lecturers-Harvard Graduates

When I first arrived at the university I immediately received the impression that this was a very prestige university. This is because of the very large campus and building infrastructure. The buildings were built in 1905 but looks like an old style castle. The infrastructure was very old yet modern. The insides of all the buildings have been renovated and have some very unique artefacts.

The campus was very large and in the Anam area there were many shops and restaurants that surrounded the two main campuses. The two main campuses were the science campus and the business campus. The university also had a stadium that was very large with soccer fields. The business campus was the main one and the science campus was up a big hill right next to Korea University hospital. (It’s a hassle to walk to science campus).

There was also accommodation in and around the university. The Anam area was always alive with students having a night out or meetups. There was a possibility to get dorm style accommodation or personal “one room” accommodation. Although the personal accommodation gives you privacy, it is hard to make friends as quick as you would if in the dorms. The dorms and the private housing costed the same price.

The city was basically 24/7. There was always people out and about even during the week. The subway and busses close at around 11:30 on a weekend and later during the week; they reopen at about 6am. There were many different subway lines that will take you around the city and it very convenient but at first very confusing. The buildings in the city seem never ending and filled with neon lights and food restaurants.

Korea University is competing for Second Best University in Korea. It is well known and was very difficult for locals to get into. The majority of my lecturers were graduates from prestige universities such as Harvard. The business faculty was famous and the school spirit was very well represented. There were even large cheering competitions that show the school spirit.