Korean food, culture and winter!

Amanda S., Bachelor of Nutrition Science
Korea University International Winter Campus (December 2018)

Hi, I am Amanda Seek & currently in my 3rd year of Bachelor of Nutrition Science. Going for an exchange program during University days is on my bucket list and an achievement that I would want to unlock. In 2018, I finally got to go on an short-term program in Korea University. In 2017, which was my first year in QUT, I received an email regarding about the exchange program with Korea University. However, I was not prepared to go on an exchange, but I decided that I have to enrol into a short-term program during my summer break.

Seeing the sights!

 

 

Arrival

South Korea, a country that I have never been… Being in South Korea was relatively foreign to me as the language that is spoken is Korean and my first language is English. Upon arriving in South Korea on 26th December 2018, Korea University provided a free shuttle bus from the airport to our respective dormitory in Korea University which was wonderful. My friend and I went over to the meet up point where we could board the shuttle bus, however we did not see any representatives from Korea University. Awhile later, we saw a few groups of students who were at the meeting points. Awhile later, there were a few student leaders who arrived at the meet up point for the free the shuttle bus and organised us together to board the bus.

 

The friends made in Korea

Accommodation

The shuttle bus dropped us to our respective dormitory and we followed the student leader to our dorms. There were student leaders at our dormitory to help us to check into our dorms. My friend and I were really grateful that they placed us in the same room as we chose a 2 shared dormitory, Anam Global Double House. The rooms included a bathroom, a shower, 2 wardr

obes, 2 study table and 1 pillow and bedsheet were provided for each bed. Toiletries were not included. There was a room for laundry, washing and drying of clothes cost about 2,000 won for each. There was a common kitchen that was provided for the residence, there was a microwave and few stoves. I have attached a short video of the room on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3PTEfebnqM.

In the dormitory, elevators are allocated respectively for both men and women, men and women are not allowed to share the elevator which was surprising. There is a gender segregation. Even though the dormitory do not have any curfews, but every visitor who is not a residence in Global House are required to write their student number and name. Visitors are only allowed to the lobby and kitchen area, visiting rooms are not allowed. I felt that they were very strict about this, and I wondered what if our friends from other dorms would like to visit and see how the other dorms look like as they were not allowed to be in. The dormitory also had rules that do not allow students to eat in their rooms, they can only consume food in the kitchen area. Alcohol is also prohibited in the dorm rooms.

Welcome

We had our orientation on 27th December 2018, we were welcomed by the Dean of Korea University and given welcome packs. Korea University provides 2 sessions for their International Winter Campus and I was enrolled into session 1 which is an academic track, allowing me to transfer credits to QUT. There were over 20 courses that I could choose from and I decided to choose an psychology unit “IWC236 Abnormal Psychology” in Korea University which I wouldn’t be able to do in QUT. It was definitely an eye opener course for me as it covers different human behaviours such as schizophrenia, personality disorder and eating disorders which I am really interested in as I am studying Bachelor of Nutrition Science. The differences between Korea University and QUT are the size of lectures being small and some notes were provided by the lecturer. The buildings in Korea University were more compact as compared to QUT as we have 2 campuses, Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove.

Picture taken @ Namsan Tower (N Seoul tower) where every couples lock their lock pad as a sign of being together forever

Friendships that were made

Throughout this journey, I’ve met and built many friendships with students who are mostly universities in Australia. There were many students from Australia, such as Griffith University, University of Melbourne and University of Sydney. There were also students from Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and National University of Singapore (NUS). The students there for exchange were outgoing and friendly, everyone will always come together and head out to explore Korea together.

Group outings!

Highlights of the exchange

The highlights of this trip are meeting and building a bond with students from Australia, going to Lotte World (theme park), trying out live octopus at Gwangjang Market, wearing a hanbok and attending my graduation ceremony when the program ended.

Graduation day!

Graduation day!

 

Celebrating my birthday at Jisan Skii Resort and abroad.

Celebrating my birthday at Jisan Skii Resort

Celebrating my birthday abroad with my new friends

Lastly, receiving an excellence award from the Australia Ambassador in Korea University.

Graduation day!

 

What to do and eat!

Wearing a hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is definitely a place worth visiting. Wearing a hanbok cost about 25,000 won which includes a mini hair makeover and a mini bag for you to carry around. Entry is free when you are dressed in a hanbok.

Wearing a hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Korea serves the best food, I really enjoyed the food in Korea and trying the live octopus was a bucket list achievement as it is an exotic food that not everyone would dare to try.

Trying octopus for the first time

Last meal with friends before leaving for home.

We also made friends with one of the restaurant owner which serves super delicious stir fried chicken and seaweed soup. We took a photo together as it was our last meal in South Korea before all of us depart to our separate ways.An advice for future students who are interested to go on an exchange or short-term program, “be brave and step out of your comfort zone, you will definitely not regret it.” Ask a friend along if you are afraid to go on an exchange alone, especially in a foreign country.

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.

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.

Insights from an internship in Korea

Overall I had a fantastic time. The clubs and groups and activities are endless. The KUBA group is excellent and you always have weekend activities and options that can occupy your time. I felt very accommodated and supported during my whole exchange and experience. I didn’t come across any culture shock or instances of concern there and found Koreans to be very accommodating and supportive during my entire stay. Safety was never a problem the country is exceptionally safe. It is also far cheaper than Brisbane in terms of food and living costs with a budget of around $70-100 a week. If I ever had a problem they were so happy to help me sort it out. I would recommend the exchange program because living somewhere is such a testament to knowing a country from a company’s perspective especially. When I say I’ve lived in Korea it makes people assume and think I am very knowledgeable about the region and this is such a benefit to building future career links and setting up opportunities.

As part of the PM Award, I was required to undertake an internship here in Korea. I was extremely fortunate to have found an accommodating workplace at an organisation hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government called CityNet. It’s a fascinating international organisation that work on urban sustainability and improving human settlements through knowledge exchanges and forums through their network spanning across the Asia-Pacific. I’ve been working there part-time since October assisting them in preparing for their Executive Committee meeting in Vietnam as well as writing journal articles that they share with their members on new ideas on transport, energy, liveability, sanitation and climate resilience.

I was fortunate enough to get a chance to go to their Conference in Vietnam in November which was a fascinating insight into intercultural communication and government practices. I saw some vastly complex relationships and ideas on Asian specific models and regional integration away from European and American institutions. I was able to build up a great network of contacts while there and also build stronger connections with my co-workers! During my internship, I was able to achieve strong gains in my professional work quality as well as managing and integrating effectively into an intercultural workplace and be well-accepted.

A warm welcome to Korea University

Me and other exchange students to Korea

Me and other exchange students to Korea

I partook in the study program at Korea University in Seoul during semester 2, 2014. The study here is very interesting and a big contrast to Australia and I found that the lecturers were very interested in building relationship and understanding students. I’ve been so thoroughly welcomed into the university environment here, and have made the most of seeing the countryside, getting to know local networks as well as the local culture. Studying abroad at Korea University was a great opportunity to develop more knowledge of Korea and learn more about East Asia. The university itself was located in Anam-dong, which is quite a good location and close to most activities, and well known for being affordable. On campus food is very well priced and they have a lot of variety however it is very Korean inspired. Most students had a preference for the western options which tends to be a bit more expensive and usually with a Korean twist. The university consisted of great facilities and on-campus dorms have access to the CJ Gym, which I spent a lot of time using.

The university was very large and took almost 40 minutes to get from one side to the other. The lecture halls were great and most lectures were very personal, which was something I was not used to. For KU, class size lectures with a professor are standard usually with about 30 students, so expect to answer a lot of questions. I became quite used to this format, it meant I could speak to the lecturer frequently and also form a good relationship. Probably the greatest strength of KU was its library facility. It had just about every book I could ever want! It was very well stocked, books that were only recently out were already in circulation at KU. The university is well known for its international studies, engineering and business. On exchange I did most of my studies in the division of international studies which is a great department with some really experienced and knowledgeable staffs. They are very helpful and always happy to assist you whenever you need support. The accommodation was great and really well organised and had some great facilities. I was really happy to have picked meal plans at the cafeteria given that the walk especially in winter to the front road was a long way!