I was asked to write about my exchange experience in South Korea. As I’m writing my story, I’m in the middle of my exchange period, so there are still quite some activities I have not been able to do yet. To be honest I’m not sure where to start, but considering the fact that it’s almost time to make a final decision for exchange destinations, I will do my best to mess up your preferences and make you choose South Korea. Just kidding! Still, there are several reasons why South Korea is an awesome place to go on exchange.
First of all, never in my life have I met such friendly and welcoming people. Especially if you try to thank them in Korean, they most certainly will shower you with enthusiasm. Even though there are not that many people who are able to speak Korean , I have not yet met a local who did not go out of his or her way to help me with my issues.
Secondly, the food…! It might be a little more difficult if you don’t like meat or rice, because these are considered the basics and you will get those with almost every dish. However, there are lots of variations ranging from soup and stew to Korean barbecue. Also, you can’t forget about bingsoo, which is Korean traditional shaved ice flakes. Another thing you should definitely try when coming to Korea is “chimaek” at the Han river. Chimaek is a combination of chicken and maekju (type of beer), it goes well together and combined with the beautiful scenery at the Han river, you can fully lean back and enjoy. A thing that has to be mentioned here is that in Korea you can order about anything to anywhere. So, don’t bother trying to bring the chicken to the riverside, you can just order it there!
Next to the delicious culinary enjoyment, the South Korean culture has a lot more to offer. When I went to Busan in the very South, my friend and I spontaneously decided to stay another night, without having booked any accommodation. We simply went to a ‘Jim Jil Bang’, which is a traditional Korean dry sauna at 3 AM – yes, that is possible because there are 24 hour Jim Jil Bangs – and slept there overnight. It’s cheap and, believe me, there are a lot of other people, mainly Korean, who sleep at the Jim Jil Bangs as well. Furthermore, Korea has a lot of beautiful temples and palaces to visit. Make the experience complete by renting a ‘hanbok’, which is a traditional Korean attire, and have a little photoshoot at the Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul by night.
Lastly, I would like to advise you to choose wisely when you’re applying for a university. They are all quite different with both pros and cons. Currently, I am attending Seoul National University and I am really happy here. The campus is located on a mountain – beautiful sceneries guaranteed – and there’s always something happening, especially since the campus is huge. In addition, the buddy program that SNU provides is simply amazing; they offer good opportunities to make new friends and organize lots of activities and parties!
There are still so many things I could not address here, so if you’re interested in going on exchange to South Korea feel free to send me your questions or messages on Facebook. I wish you all the best of luck during the exchange application process!
By Silvia Külling