By Tiffany Komon, SFS ’20
As an Asian Regional Studies major and a Korean Language minor, studying abroad in Seoul was almost a no-brainer. However, choosing a study abroad location is not always that simple. South Korea was a clear choice for me given my studies, but more student should consider Seoul when thinking about studying abroad. Even if you have no previous knowledge of the Korean language or little prior interest in South Korea, Seoul has something to offer for almost everyone. For the night owls, Seoul is famous for its nightlife and several local restaurants and cafes are open 24 hours for a meal or snack after a night out. For those who like outdoor activities, hiking is one of the most popular Korean pastimes and multiple stunning mountains and hiking trails can be found in and around Seoul. For me, one of the best parts of Korea is the food. Meals in Korea are incredibly affordable compared to the US and restaurant service is always fast and efficient.
And to make everything better, the public transportation system leaves the entire city at your fingertips, making even the more remote corners of Seoul just a bus or subway ride away. Alongside beautiful cafes and locally run shops are plenty of historic sites and museums that are usually free or sell tickets at a low-cost. A beautiful mix of the past and the present, Seoul is the perfect destination for studying abroad. And to make everything better, the public transportation system leaves the entire city at your fingertips, making even the more remote corners of Seoul just a bus or subway ride away.
As for the academic life, Yonsei regularly offers 1500+ courses conducted in English. In addition to a wide range of humanities and some of the best business courses in Korea, Yonsei also offers an extensive number of STEM courses, making the school a great choice no matter what your major is. Most of the courses are conducted in a small lecture-style format, similar to the US. I thoroughly enjoyed my class on North Korean Politics and Foreign Policy, which introduced me to new theories about North Korean international relations, and challenged me to think critically about them. The professor, who is one of the leading scholars in the field, was always prepared with interesting lectures and humor to keep the students engaged. One major difference, however, is how you communicate with professors. Many professors do not provide office hours and do not always answer student emails expeditiously. Therefore, in order to effectively communicate with your professors I recommend asking questions during
appropriate moments in class, reaching out to a teaching assistant (if there is one), or approaching the professor directly before/after class. Adjusting to different styles of teaching can be frustrating, but luckily the CIEE program offers academic check-ins throughout the semester to help make the process smoother.
My study abroad, which turned from a one-semester program into a full-year adventure has been one of the highlights of my college career. I spent a weekend with a host family, explored some of Seoul’s most famous neighborhoods, and picked up some good study tips along the way. Seoul is a magical place, and no matter what your interests are, there is something you will enjoy. Additionally, the level of support from the on-site CIEE staff at the Yonsei University campus is phenomenal. The staff is available the entire semester to provide help and organize an abundance of activities around Seoul to ensure that no one is ever bored! My decision to extend came from a place of love, and I hope others will discover Seoul and
fall in love the same way I did while studying there.