Academics at Yonsei University

I have been in Korea now for just over a month and classes are in full swing. Before coming to Yonsei, I had heard a variety of opinions on the classes here, ranging from very difficult to supremely easy. Over the past month I’ve realized all my classes have one thing in common – they are extremely interesting.

Yonsei is considered one of the top universities in Korea, and this is reflected in the caliber of their professors. I’m taking four classes- Korean language, Pre-modern Korean History, Free Trade Agreements, and International Relations in East Asia. All three of my academic class professors have advanced degrees and impressive work experience. My Free Trade Agreements professor was a senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge group, a consulting firm founded by Georgetown’s very own Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. My IR professor served as the Korean Ambassador to Australia and President of the Korea Foundation. It is exciting to take classes from proven experts in their fields. Their knowledge is apparent in the way they can discuss current affairs and relate their knowledge to our class topics. It’s not uncommon for my IR professor to name drop foreign dignitaries and casually mention his close relationships with other political scholars.

My history and free trade agreements class both are courses exclusively for study abroad students. I had heard these classes were beyond easy, and while they are a little more relaxed than my international relations class that I take with actual Yonsei students, they are just as engaging and educational. My history professor has a very straightforward style of teaching which I appreciate, and the articles he assigns provides insight not only into the actual history of Korea, but also the methodology of historians in the region. A large part of our class is being able to analyze the perspectives of historians and appreciate the ideological influences of the author and era on the presentation of history. In my Free Trade Agreements class, I’ve learned more about current affairs than I ever could have through checking American news outlets. This class largely operates in acronyms; I now know what THAAD, AIIB, NAFTA, ASEAN, and RoO stand for and their significance on the global stage. Having never taken an economics course, I’m basically learning the basics through application to real world events.

In addition to my academic classes, my Korean class is awesome. My class is fairly small, with 12 students, and is split between 2 teachers. My teachers are awesome with an effective teaching style similar to the style of Georgetown’s Chinese classes. Classes are engaging, and my teachers effectively explain grammar and vocabulary, constantly checking to make sure everyone understands. In class we practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Yonsei’s textbooks are also great, with clear explanations of grammar and defined vocab lists; I wish I had been exposed to them earlier. My only complaint is that with the same schedule every week, classes can get sort of monotonous. Although we’ve only been in class for a month, everyone’s language abilities are noticeably improving. Yonsei knows how to teach Korean.

Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with academics at Yonsei. Is it weird I’m actually looking forward to writing my term papers?


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