Want to Study Abroad in Korea? 14 Things to Expect

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Studying abroad is a great experience, especially if you’re interested in a foreign culture and language. And Korea is an awesome destination for anyone looking to expand their horizons. If you’re thinking about studying abroad in Korea, here’s 14 things you can expect about universities in Korea!

1) Boy oh boy do schools want you!

Korean universities are becoming increasingly competitive when it comes to enrolling foreigner students in attempts to meet global standards. Foreign students are a good source of cash flow for universities and also can improve the university’s image on a global scale. Universities are also allowed to accept as many foreign students as they want, whereas the Ministry of Education sets quotas for how many Korean native students can be enrolled. This means that foreign students are unlimited cash cows; they want your money! However…

2) You gotta speak Korean

Unless you are wanting to attend an exchange program or are getting your masters, you will need to have a decent level of Korean proficiency. Most Korean universities will want you to have a TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) score of at least 4 or better (which is the equivalent to intermediate proficiency). For masters programs it’s pretty much the same, but some will give you a bit of wiggle room depending on your intended field of study (like if your major is going to have something to do with English, Korean Language, or English education). Even with that…

3) Between 25-30% of your classes will be taught in English

Yes, they’ll be taught in English, but they’ll be taught in English by Korean professors. This is true of every major you could possibly choose (Korean Language possibly being the only exception). These professors will be teaching in English, but might not have the best English, so Korean proficiency will still benefit you in the long-run when you ask your fellow students for help. The main motivation for many Korean students to learn English is to either obtain a good TOEIC score or to just be able to understand what the crap their teachers are saying in lectures. On the bright side…

4) Tuition and housing are, comparatively, cheap!

Especially if you are coming here from the United States. The average for one year’s tuition in a Korean university is 6.7 million won (approx. $6,000). For on campus housing it will only cost you about 700 thousand won ($625). Compared to an average tuition cost of $22,000 for one year of college in America and suddenly learning Korean and getting your butt to this side of the planet just became a LOT more reasonable!

5) Not all Korean universities are created equal

Every Korean high schooler goes to sleep thinking of three letters and three letters only: S.K.Y. These letters stand for the traditionally top three universities in Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. Though for your major one of the SKY might not be the best, a degree from one of these three schools (especially SNU) will have you pretty much set for a successful life in Korea. These schools are also fierce rivals (particularly KU and YU, always the bridesmaid) while all other schools in Korea are constantly held up to their standard.

6) The freedom of college life.

Life as a Korean college student is an intense balancing act. Korean students have become extremely accustomed to a life of studying non-stop after high school. Come college time many of them are living outside of the house for the first time and/or suddenly have WAY less pressure on them to constantly be studying and taking classes. This means one thing: partying. Korean college students party just as hard and possibly more often than the students in your home country. But this partying system also leads to…

7) Peer pressure from upperclassmen

For the very first time in their entire lives some of these students are experiencing power. Korean high schools rarely mix the class levels but in university being an upperclassman comes with privileges and plenty of opportunities for mischief. Underclassmen see their upperclassmen as mentors and guides and will pretty much do whatever their seniors say they should. This includes drinking and partying until the wee hours. Conversely…

Margaret
Margaret
Margaret has been living and working in Seoul since 2011. Originally hailing from the United States (Maine and Tennessee, to be precise) she’s more than found a home amongst the wonders of Seoul. She eats more kimbap that could possibly be healthy for her and has a bad habit of bursting into KPop songs to which she does not know even 80% of the lyrics. Check out her blog at margarettriesbeing.com for more in-depth (that is to say, rambling) articles on Seoul How-To’s, Survival Tips, and excessive use of animated gifs.

41 Comments

  1. Sri Nidhi says:

    Hey Guys am from India ami in 11 now.Actually i want to do my higher studies in Korea bcoz its my fav place from my childhood.So i wanna know one thing plz help me in that.Are korean collages really good ?? Can we adjust to that ?? And the other important thing is will they treat us equally as koreans ?? Please reply me i want ur suggestions

  2. irynegonzaga says:

    Annyeong ! guys my name is iryne i am 16 years of age i want to school in korea because korea is my fav place since im 7 years old plz hepl me guys to go in that place gamsamnida…:)

  3. George Nsamba says:

    My name is George Nsamba from Uganda I want to study business course in south korea any assistance is appreciated
    Thanks

  4. jeffrey mellman says:

    Anyone have a list of Masters Programs?

  5. Nesrine Mansouri says:

    Hello I’m Nesrine from Tunisia I want to go and study in Korea so what should I do??? Thank you for this love you.

  6. achi says:

    Hi there,
    I’m acheampong from Ghana, a first degree holder in science education and teacher. It was my innermost desire to learn chemistry to the highest level. I’m still on the search for my happiness in life as a chemistry instructor. Thank God I’ve finally found South Korea, a place of a dream come true. I’m on the search for any science and technology university in South Korea that offers a scholarship or any form of job that will enable me to pursue my course.
    Any form of help, pls?

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