Many people view studying overseas as daunting, and who can blame them? It can be scary moving from home to a place that has a completely different culture, language and menu to what you’re used to.
But although it can be intimidating, those who have plucked up the courage to study abroad in Korea have said it’s one of the best decisions they made – so we’re giving you ten reasons why you should give some thought to studying in Korea~!
1. High Ranking Universities
Of course, to study abroad you first need to choose which school to enrol in – and luckily Korea has around 370 different universities and institutes to pick from! Some of these choices include the Seoul National University, Ewha Womans University, KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology), Yonsei University and Hanyang University.
The majority of universities in and around Seoul open their arms wide for foreign students, they no only host wonderful exchange programs but also offer various courses, boarding options, introduction programs as well as round the clock care and assistance for students coming in from all around the world!
2. Cheaper Education and Living Expenses
Pretty much everyone knows that attending college or university is no cheap trip, from courses and materials to housing and living expenses – it all adds up! And you’d think that studying overseas would be more expensive than if you just stayed in your own city, but that’s where you’d be wrong.
In 2004 Korea set a goal to attract 100,000 international students by 2012, so they decided to offer a much more affordable learning experience compared to other countries.
For instance, a student living in the U.S. could expect to spend around $17,000-$22,000 a year on university fees, whereas expenses for a foreign student studying in Korea are only $6,500 a year – which includes both course materials and accomodation costs!
Like most countries, Korea offers over 100 scholarships for international students – but the most notable is the Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP). Set up by the Seoul National University for foreign students who have applied for a 4-year undergraduate program, this scholarship provides a tuition fee exemption for eight semesters and a year of Korean language courses!
Many of the scholarships offered by different universities revolve around assisting foreign students with adapting to life in Korea and learning the Korean language, which makes living in Korea a whole lot easier!
4. Vibrant Culture
Even though Korea is a fast paced country, it’s people still find a way to blend the old way of life with the new – which makes it an extremely culturally vibrant place to live! There are many ways Korea has either kept up or mixed in traditional customs, celebrations, food and dress into its modern and growing culture.
You probably already know some of the most common and well known traditions, such as the making of kimchi (김치), traditional clothing like the Hanbok (한복) and Jeogori (저고리) and the celebration of the ‘harvest festival’ or Chuseok (추석).
But there is so much more to learn about Korean culture (it’s not just kimchi and hanbok’s!), it’s filled to the brim with ancient customs, rich histories and Korean traditions can be seen everywhere you go – so there are plenty of opportunities to get acquainted with it!
5. Learn a New Language
One of the biggest stumbling blocks people have when thinking about studying overseas is the idea of learning a new language – and to study in Korea, the odds are you might have to learn Korean! But this shouldn’t be seen as a downside to studying abroad.
Almost every university has Korean language courses to help foreign students adjust and thrive in their new surroundings, and it is common for native students to act as tutors for international students – which helps people to learn the language and make friends at the same time.
So by the time you finish studying, you’ll be taking a diploma AND a new language back home with you!
6. Student Culture and Life
‘Student culture’ in Korea encompasses the ideas of studying well, playing hard and working together – all these things contribute to student life.
Particularly in the big cities, such as Seoul, Busan and Incheon, life can be very competitive and the days can go by quickly, not to mention in summer the heat can be rather intense, but it’s not all work and stress – you can still find time to rest peacefully while you try to get your your student life in order!
Since education is taken very seriously, students have to find methods and activities to help them unwind and relax. For many, the biggest activity is drinking either by yourself or, more preferably, with a group of friends. Other ways to relax include going to clubs, karaoke bars or noraebang, themed cafes (especially the cat ones!), bathhouses and jimjibang or spas.
But you can understand that after the partying and relaxing is over, it’s right back to studying and working hard – it IS school after all!
7. Making Friends
When studying in Korea, many people worry that they’ll have a difficult time making friends due to language barriers and cultural differences, and that’s completely understandable! Whether you’re a child, teenager or even an adult, everyone worries about fitting in. But luckily another big part of ‘student culture’ in Korea is looking out for one another, which means making friends is a whole lot easier than people think!
For example, one large aspect of ‘student culture’ is the practice of naeri-sarang (내리사랑) or ‘descending love’, which means that older students will show affection for the younger students and look out for them, in return when the younger students or hubae (후배) grow older, they too will treat their younger peers well.
Seen in both high-school, college and university, upperclassmen or sunbae (순배) are expected to reach out to the hubae and foreign students, which would include things like inviting them to eat lunch or even taking them out for drinks with other upperclassmen. Not only is naeri-sarang a great way to make friends with all types of people, it also helps students, especially international ones, to fit in with their peers and unfamiliar surroundings!
8. Delicious Food
It’s a widely accepted stereotype that most college and university students generally have a hard time making decent meals for themselves, instead they boil instant ramen in their dorms, order endless boxes of pizza or rely on the school’s questionable cafeteria food (bleh!). But in Korea, the meal options for students are endless and a bit more scrumptious!
On almost every road and street corner you’ll find either a cafe, restaurant or, even better, a street-food stand. It’s always nice to treat yourself and your friends to a sit down meal, whether it’s the ever-popular Korean BBQ or some comfort food like Jjamppong (짬뽕) or Bulgogi Jungol (불고기전골), but we always recommend trying what the local food vendors have to offer.
Street food makes up a big part in Korean food culture, some of our personal favourites include; fried snacks or twigim (튀김), fishcake skewers or odeng (오뎅), potato ‘gamge’ hotdogs (감자 핫도그) and tteokbokki (떡볶이).
And if you want to spend a whole day surrounded by delicious food, there’s no better place than the traditional food markets! There are many to chose from, but for wholesome and traditional food the best ones are the Tongin and Namdaemun markets, which are both located in Seoul. So if you move to Korea to study, you definitely won’t have to worry about food!
9. Sight-Seeing and Travelling
If you’ve travelled all the way to Korea to study, you may as well explore all the sights and attractions that it has to offer while you’re there! Depending on your travelling budget and how much spare time you have, there are a few crucial tourist hotspots that everyone visiting Korea needs to see;
Popular Attractions: N Seoul Tower (located at the top of Namsan Mountain) and Lotte World
Unique Attractions: Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Petit France and the Trick Eye Museum
Historical Sites: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Cheongpyeongsa temple, Hanok Village, Namhansanseong Fortress and the Changgyeonggung Palace
Nature Retreats: Namiseom, Bukhansan, Samhwasa, Yonghwa Beach and the Cheonjiyeon Falls
Shopping Hotspots: Common Ground, Myeong-dong, Yeongdeungpo Underground Mall, Lotte Department Store and Edae.
10. Making Life-long Memories
Even though it may be daunting and somewhat scary, there are so many positive aspects to studying in Korea; from top universities, scholarships and cheaper living to learning a new language, making friends and travelling – all of it makes for a fantastic experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
We definitely think studying in Korea is something everyone has to try, if they can, and we hope this lists of reasons to study in Korea has helped you~!
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