Guy – Hanyang University – Korea
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Design / Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
My name is Guy, and I recently had the pleasure of embarking on a semester exchange at Hanyang University in Seoul! Since my return I’ve been asked an impossible question countless times; “what was your favourite part!?” The truth is, I couldn’t possibly reduce my crazy, colourful, amazingly diﬀerent experience to a single point.
…but, the incredibly cheap price of Soju and beer does come pretty close…
Instead, I’ll give you an overview of my time abroad including some of the more notable things to keep an eye on if you plan on going to Seoul.
I couldn’t have made a better choice of university or accommodation. Hanyang University is in a great location – situated in the inner-city right on the green subway line – making travel to pretty much anywhere easy. Also, staying at Hanyang Habitat was probably the best decision I made on my trip. Yes, it is expensive compared to other options. Yes, the rooms are small. But you’re paying for convenience.
Firstly, it’s literally right across the road from Hanyang Uni. Secondly, the manager Joy is an absolute legend who is extremely accommodating and helpful, providing unlimited eggs, milk, bread, ramen, coﬀee, and cleaning supplies (among other things), and even organising monthly parties and field trips for the dorm. Finally, you’re staying with 70 other students from all over the world and it makes making friends abroad extremely easy.
Put it this way;
Before I came to Seoul I was terrified I wouldn’t make friends and break into cliques and would instead be left miserable and lonely.
The moment I stepped oﬀ the plane at Incheon Airport I was struck down with extreme nausea and spent the next hours throwing up in the airport toilet. I’ll spare the details but it went a bit like this: Get bags – throw up – get sim card – throw up – get covid test – throw up – get on the train – … You get it.
When I finally got to Hanyang Habitat looking like death and wanting nothing more than to go to sleep, I walked into a kitchen full of 30-odd unfamiliar faces who all enthusiastically greeted me. Rather than miss the opportunity by sleeping, I accepted an invitation to get dinner and later go partying, and that night I made some of my closest friends on the trip.
An important thing to remember is that everyone on exchange is in the same boat, and despite your anxieties, chances are that everyone will be just as keen to make friends and have fun as you are.
Now, in no particular order, some tips for settling in and getting the most out of Seoul that I discovered (sometimes the hard way):
- Don’t press the button at the pedestrian crossing! All the crossings are automated, and the button is for blind people only. You will immediately look like the biggest tourist and sometimes it will even alert a local police oﬃcer to help you cross.
- Make an eﬀort to learn a bit of Korean. Being able to order at restaurants and say please’s, thank you’s, hellos and goodbyes will go a long way.
- People walk and drive on the right-hand side in
- Have Naver Map and Papago Translator downloaded on your phone before you get to
- Cars and motorcycles will NOT stop at pedestrian crossings for you. Even if there is a green man, WAIT, then cross. I learnt this when I almost got taken out by a taxi within 2 minutes of leaving the airport.
- Receive and oﬀer things using both hands. In less formal settings, like a bar or convenience store, oﬀering and receiving items with your right hand and your left hand on your wrist/elbow is suﬃcient.
- If you show up to class, do the assignments, and sit the exam, you will probably pass. Don’t be intimidated by the diﬃculty or high passing grade requirements. Grades are scaled and professors don’t want to fail you.
- Get ready to be dining out every night. It is so cheap and so nice you won’t be able to resist.
- Prepare to be listening to K-Pop literally everywhere.
Overall, there’s not a lot I have to complain about my time in Korea. I can only recommend going, and if you make some good friends and keep busy – trust me, it isn’t hard – you will have the time of your life.
The next four months I spent in Seoul were a blur filled with partying, shopping, sightseeing, café- ing, and of course, a bit of studying on the side. Sure, I could recommend and explain in painstaking detail each of the countless galleries, temples, clubs and bars that I discovered, but you will certainly discover that for yourself in your own wonderfully unique experience!
I’m now left with good friends from every continent and memories that will last a lifetime. All that’s left to say now is one word – go!
Thank you and goodbye!
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.