Korea Student exchange Study Travel

A Dream Comes True: My Semester Aboard in Seoul

Katherine – Hanyang University – Korea

Semester 2, 2022

Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Fine Arts

Planning my journey to Korea

I had planned to undergo student exchange before I started my university degree. I had originally wanted to complete my degree overseas, but it was not financially feasible so instead I decided to study at QUT and participate in the student exchange program instead. I chose to study in South Korea based on my love of Korean film and in particular director Bong Joon Ho and I wanted to complete part of my film studies there. I also find the business environment interesting as it is vastly different from Australia’s which led me to choose to study for 2 semesters in South Korea. QUT has many partner universities in South Korea but as I was a double-degree student with no electives it was difficult to find a university with enough units that matched the ones on my study plan so instead I decided to complete two back-to-back semesters at two different universities in Seoul, South Korea. My first semester was at Hanyang University in Wangsimni, Seoul. I took mainly business classes and one film class.

7 months of study

I had been studying Korean for about 7 months before I left and wanted to continue my studies while on exchange however Hanyang University only had intensive Korean which was on five days a week and beginner Korean which was on twice a week. I wanted to take beginner Korean but I had already surpassed the content level. All my exchange classes happened to be in the morning, so I decided to take an intensive Korean class in the afternoon on top of my exchange classes as I found my exchange classes were very easy. I was incredibly busy during the semester but looking back on it, it was a great decision as I was able to meet different people and make friends with students who didn’t speak English. I then decided to stay in Korea during winter break and continued these studies during the winter semester which I really enjoyed.

As the dorms at Hanyang University were closed to exchange students I had to organise different accommodation. I was incredibly stressed about this as I wanted to stay at the dorms in order to easily meet other students. However, I found off-campus accommodation that was affiliated with Hanyang University and was designed for exchange students, so I booked it very early. My accommodation was very small and expensive however I really enjoyed my time there as I met many exchange students from around the world and made life-long friends.

The cold in Seoul

Seoul’s weather was fascinating to me having lived in Brisbane my whole life. When I arrived, it was incredibly hot and humid. However, after about a month it got much colder, and Autumn was very pretty with the red leaves. I did a lot of hiking around Seoul during this time, and it was very beautiful. However, towards the end of the year, it got incredibly cold very quickly with one day reaching -17 degrees Celsius as well as being very windy. It snowed about four times during winter which was very cool as I had never seen snow before.

Looking forward to my last semester in Korea

Even though I had limited free time due to taking on a large study load, I tried to make the most of my free time by exploring Seoul and travelling. I took many day trips to the close cities of Suwon and Incheon as well as travelling to the Southern city of Busan with friends for a weekend and to Gyeongju during winter for a weekend as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first exchange experience and the opportunity it provided me to live in a country so different from anything I have ever experienced. I am staying in Korea for another semester and continuing my exchange journey by studying at Korea University in Seoul for Semester 1, 2023. I recommend going on exchange as part of your degree if you are able to. I also recommend going to a country that is culturally completely different from Australia if you can because even though it is more of a challenge it is an incredibly insightful and rewarding experience.

Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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