Katherine Le, VU Bachelor of Science student, reflects on her semester exchange to Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, in Semester 1, 2019.
I came to Seoul for a holiday the previous year but it was too short and I wanted to go back, however I didn't want to have to put my studies on hold to travel. Going on exchange meant that I could travel and continue my studies at the same time.
Life in Korea
Hanyang University is huge! The classes and lecture styles are quite different to that of VU. Accommodation was arranged by the host university [Hanyang]. There was no curfew and it was in a convenient area, close to the subway station. I would recommend staying at the accommodation arranged by the university since arranging your own is more costly.
I had no issues adjusting to the social life in Korea. There are some cultural differences, however if you're open to new experiences there isn't so much shock. I would definitely recommend joining a university activity club. It was lots of fun and I made so many new friends.
The best thing about going on exchange is definitely the chance to make so many new friends, both Korean nationals and other foreign exchange students.
I got to meet and became good friends with people from all over the world. Even though it was only for a semester, we all got to know each other very well and had lots of fun together.
The language barrier is always a difficulty no matter where you travel to. It is very useful to know a little bit of the local language - you don’t need to be fluent but enough for others to understand. The most stressful thing about going on exchange to Korea was the level of competitiveness of the Korean students.
Words of wisdom
My advice to students thinking about going on exchange is to PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING! Have a plan A, B, C, D, E and don't stop at E, keep going. It takes a lot of preparation and a bit of stress but it’s definitely worth it in the end.