Year Abroad in S. Korea: My Experience Watch

umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#1




Hi! 안녕하세요!



I'm back for my third thread in this series (if you can call it that) about studying Korean at university. For those who haven't seen my previous threads, my name is Ella and I'm just about to start my second year studying BA Korean at SOAS, University of London. Well, more accurately I will be studying at Seoul National University (SNU) this year as part of a compulsory language year abroad. In this thread I will be documenting my year abroad including the preparation process, settling in, the difference between studying Korean at home and abroad, and what it's like to live in South Korea! Hopefully it will be useful for those of you studying languages at university, particularly non-European languages, and about how language years abroad work/what to expect. It should also be useful for people considering South Korea as their country of choice for non-compulsory study abroad programmes.




If you'd like more background information about studying Korean at uni, please refer to my two earlier threads

- Applying to Study Korean: My Experience documents the whole application process from deciding to study Korean to getting my place at SOAS. It's full of advice and guidance and even includes my full personal statement and EPQ resources
- Korean at SOAS: The First Year is (as the title suggest) my first year experience in a nutshell. It includes my thoughts on studying Korean at SOAS, how I handled workload, and FAQs on uni life in London, the BA Korean course, and the year abroad application

If you don't fancy scrolling through my older threads, these are my most asked about/useful/relevant posts:
- How to prepare for applying to study Korean at uni
- Personal statement example
- BA Korean course FAQ
- A word of caution for those planning to study Korean at SOAS
(I would recommend reading the full conversation between me and @Quick-use)
- Year abroad FAQ
- Statement of Purpose example





I have notifications on for all my main threads and usually reply to PMs within 24hrs, so if you have any questions related to any of my threads please don't hesitate to post a reply or send me a PM!





Spoiler:
Show


Tagging people interested in SOAS/Korean/Language year abroad:
hypotrochoids
mollyxoo
muntaha2001
YasudaSayo
astro-yeol-ogy
yoshi2611
nabilahhh
Aiko2234
BANANALOAF
RascalFlatts
txiga
알파카
jou721
gin4571
bobby147
Miztx12
Mynxas
mollypew013

Please let me know if you'd like to be added to or removed from the tag list

Last edited by umbrellala; 1 week ago
2
reply
nabilahhh
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#2
Report 1 month ago
#2
Oh yeyy. Nice to meet you!!
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
Last edited by nabilahhh; 1 month ago
1
reply
yoshi2611
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#3
Report 1 month ago
#3
were there set universities you had to choose from? and how much help was given with the whole study abroad process?
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#4
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#4
(Original post by yoshi2611)
were there set universities you had to choose from? and how much help was given with the whole study abroad process?
I've addressed both these things already in this thread, but this post will probably be most useful so I won't type it out again. To give you the short answer:
1) We could choose between SNU, Korea University, Sogang, and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. There are many more choices for students studying Japanese or Chinese, though
2) Not much to be honest. Almost all of it has to be coordinated by the students
0
reply
ABCyoung
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#5
Report 1 month ago
#5
(Original post by umbrellala)




Hi! 안녕하세요!



I'm back for my third thread in this series (if you can call it that) about studying Korean at university. For those who haven't seen my previous threads, my name is Ella and I'm just about to start my second year studying BA Korean at SOAS, University of London. Well, more accurately I will be studying at Seoul National University (SNU) this year as part of a compulsory language year abroad. In this thread I will be documenting my year abroad including the preparation process, settling in, the difference between studying Korean at home and abroad, and what it's like to live in South Korea! Hopefully it will be useful for those of you studying languages at university, particularly non-European languages, and about how language years abroad work/what to expect. It should also be useful for people considering South Korea as their country of choice for non-compulsory study abroad programmes.




If you'd like more background information about studying Korean at uni, please refer to my two earlier threads

- Applying to Study Korean: My Experience documents the whole application process from deciding to study Korean to getting my place at SOAS. It's full of advice and guidance and even includes my full personal statement and EPQ resources
- Korean at SOAS: The First Year is (as the title suggest) my first year experience in a nutshell. It includes my thoughts on studying Korean at SOAS, how I handled workload, and FAQs on uni life in London, the BA Korean course, and the year abroad application



I have notifications on for all my main threads and usually reply to PMs within 24hrs, so if you have any questions related to any of my threads please don't hesitate to post a reply or send me a PM!







Spoiler:
Show
what jobs can you if you take a language as a uni course
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#6
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#6
(Original post by ABCyoung)
what jobs can you if you take a language as a uni course
Other than the obvious teaching/translating/interpreting jobs, you can apply to the vast majority of graduate jobs since they often don't specify a subject, they just want to see that you have a degree. In those situations, having a language under your belt can often give you the upper hand. A common route for people in East Asian languages is finance and banking, so the language(s) you choose can often have an impact on career prospects too. Personally I'm interested in either staying in academia or going into the diplomatic civil service
Last edited by umbrellala; 1 month ago
0
reply
nabilahhh
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#7
Report 1 month ago
#7
Are you very fluent in korean now? What was the hardest part of learning korean? And what are you most worried about when going to Korea?
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#8
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#8
(Original post by nabilahhh)
Are you very fluent in korean now? What was the hardest part of learning korean? And what are you most worried about when going to Korea?
Question 2 of this post explains quite thoroughly what level we're at by the end of first year. The hardest part was probably retaining vocabulary. Because we're not immersed in the language, there's few opportunities to reinforce vocab outside of the few hours you have in lessons, so it's very easy to forget words. I'm probably most worried about settling in and meeting new people. When I first came to SOAS, I found it very overwhelming to be in a new place and not having settled down properly before being thrown into socialising and meeting so many new people at once, despite generally being outgoing and confident. I felt like I wasn't myself for a good few weeks because of that, and I'd like to avoid that this time if I can
0
reply
nabilahhh
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#9
Report 1 month ago
#9
(Original post by umbrellala)
Question 2 of this post explains quite thoroughly what level we're at by the end of first year. The hardest part was probably retaining vocabulary. Because we're not immersed in the language, there's few opportunities to reinforce vocab outside of the few hours you have in lessons, so it's very easy to forget words. I'm probably most worried about settling in and meeting new people. When I first came to SOAS, I found it very overwhelming to be in a new place and not having settled down properly before being thrown into socialising and meeting so many new people at once, despite generally being outgoing and confident. I felt like I wasn't myself for a good few weeks because of that, and I'd like to avoid that this time if I can
So how did you manage to retain all the vocab you’ve learned? Just memorising it? And don’t worry babe, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be that bad one you get there. Just don’t over think it a lot x
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
0
reply
bobby147
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#10
Report 1 month ago
#10
Pls tag me.Sounds very interesting.
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#11
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#11
(Original post by nabilahhh)
So how did you manage to retain all the vocab you’ve learned? Just memorising it? And don’t worry babe, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be that bad one you get there. Just don’t over think it a lot x
*This post includes Hangul so might not be totally readable on mobile, please try on desktop if it's not working!
For hard to remember vocab I'd try to find commonalities between words I already knew. For example, the word '냉장고' (refrigerator) has the same '냉' as in '냉면' (cold noodles). It also has '장' from '찬장' meaning cupboard.
For easily confused words I'd try to find something about it that linked to its meaning, for example 들어가다 (go in) and 돌아가다 (go back) were ones I often got mixed up. I'd look at the characters and see that in 들어가다 the ㅡ went directly in between the ㄷ and ㄹ hence go in.
For everything else, it was just basic memorisation. I had a system for hand-written note cards where I could memorise about 100 words within an hour or so. For my final exam I had 700+ words to learn so I stuck to Quizlet. Eventually, if you go over them often enough, they stick. I'd also try to use as much variety of vocab in my written work as possible just to keep it ticking over.
Thank you! Hopefully it'll be okay
Last edited by umbrellala; 1 month ago
1
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#12
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#12
(Original post by bobby147)
Pls tag me.Sounds very interesting.
Done
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#13
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#13
I know that people will naturally have questions about the application process for the year abroad but this won't be covered in this thread because it was already completed around Easter time! It is covered in my first year thread in a bit more detail, however I did do a year abroad application FAQ in that thread which I have copied and pasted here for convenience. If you've already read my past thread then of course skip over this one, but otherwise please give this a read before asking questions about applications. Links in this post won't work since it's taken directly from the old post, so please refer to the original thread for clickable links

1. Which unis can you choose from?
For my year (in Korea for academic year 2019-2020) we could choose from Seoul National University, Korea University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, and Sogang University. This can change year by year, and the availability of spaces will change every year too. There will be spaces for everyone so you don’t need to worry about that, there just may be more/less competition for certain unis depending on how many spaces are being offered by each.

2. How does accommodation work? Does the uni help you find some?
You have to sort out your accommodation completely independently. The main 4 options are halls, goshiwon, apartment/officetel or homestay. It is very rare for people to choose halls/dorms because they have a ridiculous number of rules and you have to share. Most unis don’t offer non-shared rooms. Goshiwons and officetels are the most popular.

3. What is paid for?
There are grants available for your flights dependent on your household income which you can find more info on here. Tuition fees will be covered by your student loan, or if you’re paying for it yourself then you will have a greatly reduced tuition fee to pay (for the 2019-2020 academic year, it's £1,350). Health insurance is provided by the university, but if you have pre-existing health issues then you might want to get extra private insurance.

4. How do you plan to fund your year?
Tuition will be paid for by my student loan, and you will receive your maintenance loan as normal. It is still based on your household income, however the base amount is around £700 lower because the cost of living in Seoul is not as expensive as in London. I have also been saving pretty hard so I will have enough money to travel whilst I’m there.

5. Is there a certain level you have to pass in order to continue in third year?
Yes, you have to pass level 4 of the university’s language programme. There are some options to re-sit exams in the UK if you don’t pass it, but that’s worst-case scenario.

6. Do you have to go for a specific semester?
You have to go for the September semester so your study stays in line with your degree programme once you get home.

7. How do you qualify for the year abroad in the first place?
Mainly just by getting good grades and having good attendance! You need to be getting 50% or more in all of your exams if you want to qualify for the year abroad. If you want to insure you get into your first choice uni, you’ll want to be getting slightly higher grades than that. If you want to go to SNU specifically, it will be higher again. Your attendance should be above 85%, preferably above 90% unless you have good reason to miss classes.

8. How do you qualify for SNU? Why is it different?
I’m not sure what the official grade requirements are, but to me it seems like people who have an average mark of around 75% or more in their more ‘official’ assessment (presentations, listening and revision tests) were offered spaces. For me, these are the grades I can remember getting throughout the year, although I can't remember all of them for certain so some are an estimate:
Revision 1: 92%
Presentation 1: 61%
Revision 2: 78%
Listening 1: 72%
Revision 3: 84%
Listening 2: 88%
Presentation 2: 69%
Revision 4: 81%
Listening 3: 72%
Listening 4: 84%
Oral exam: 72%
Final exam: 76%

SNU is the #1 university in Korea so they have a huge reputation to keep up! It actually makes a lot of sense to ask for those grades, too, because the pass rate at all Korean universities is 70%.

9. How do uni applications work?
After the briefing, you register your interest for your unis, ranking them favourite to least favourite. People with high grades are pretty much guaranteed their first choice, but if your grades and attendance are low then other people will have priority. Then when the convenor gets the green light you will get some info about how to apply (when I say ’some’, I mean it - the info we got was very limited and we had to really dig for a lot of what we know now) and you can start writing your application and getting documents together. You send off your application, will later be told whether they’re offering you a place (this only applies to SNU, for all other unis as far as I know you only get told after results), and then once exam results are released they will be sent to your Korean uni and you will be told whether you were accepted or not.

10. What happens if you fail the application or your summer exams?
It’s worth saying that unless you write a truly terrible application, it’s unlikely you’ll fail any application other than SNU where they’re more strict. But, if you fail the application or summer exams, there is no plan B. You just have to stay in the UK for another year. There may be an option of going abroad in third year, but I’m not certain about that.
Last edited by umbrellala; 1 week ago
0
reply
Palmyra
Badges: 20
#14
Report 1 month ago
#14
Sounds like you're in for a fantastic year - enjoy!
1
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#15
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#15
(Original post by Palmyra)
Sounds like you're in for a fantastic year - enjoy!
Thank you! <3
0
reply
hypotrochoids
Badges: 6
Rep:
?
#16
Report 1 month ago
#16
Thanks for tagging me Do you remember when they told you about the unis at first, were they described as having a reputation for certain things? e.g. this uni is good if you need help with grammar, this one with speaking etc. Pretty rubbish that they didn't give you much help with this though! What exactly did you have to do yourself? And do you know when you leave? And do you get an xmas break? I always wondered about that, lol.
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#17
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#17
(Original post by hypotrochoids)
Thanks for tagging me Do you remember when they told you about the unis at first, were they described as having a reputation for certain things? e.g. this uni is good if you need help with grammar, this one with speaking etc. Pretty rubbish that they didn't give you much help with this though! What exactly did you have to do yourself? And do you know when you leave? And do you get an xmas break? I always wondered about that, lol.
They might have told us more than this, this is just what I can remember. We were given our briefing in mid-February which was when they told us which universities are available to us and how the application process generally works. They told us what to expect with the applications, how the year abroad is structured, academic requirements, and answered our questions, so they didn't talk about the unis themselves that much. They emphasised that Sogang was best if you wanted to develop speaking skills, and KU was particularly good for writing, so more fitting for people who are interested in translating or academic writing further down the line. Few people have done the language programme at SNU before so they couldn't really comment but assumed that they'd also be more writing-focused. Hankuk wasn't mentioned since it's rare that people apply there.

I'm having to trawl through my emails because it was quite a while ago now and my memory's a bit fuzzy! But it's maybe a better question to ask what we didn't do by ourselves, SOAS provided the documentation and we did the rest. Of course we had to get our own things together like making sure passports are valid, getting scans of it, and writing your own statement of purpose. However we did need to request our official enrolment letters from the university, coordinate getting references, fill in the actual online application form (which was more complicated than it had any business being), and we were given very little if any guidance for writing our statement of purpose. It was checked over before it was sent off to make sure it was good enough but we weren't given feedback. The application process, although stressful, wasn't that difficult all in all and if I hadn't have had to deal with that myself then I would be having a total meltdown over the visa process!

If by 'leaving' you mean when I leave for Korea, my flights are booked for 12th August. As for leaving Korea, I think the semester ends May/June time. The only university out of the ones we could apply for that had a Christmas break is Sogang because it's a Christian university. None of the others have Christmas breaks, although I think we get the day off. As you probably already know, Christmas is not much of a big deal and is usually a day to get drunk with your friends rather than a wholesome family holiday. Chuseok is kind of the equivalent so we do get time off for Chuseok
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#18
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#18
LYA Preparation Process
Quick note before we begin, I will now be including the tag list in each post so it’s easier to keep track of. I realise there is often quite a bit of discussion on this thread and it can be annoying to get notifications all the time so by using the tag list you can stop ‘watching’ the thread (the button is at the top of this page) and instead just get notifications for new posts. If you would like to be added or removed from the list please let me know

With that out of the way I think we’d better talk about the year abroad preparation process! Since our places were confirmed at the start of this month, everything has been a bit of a whirlwind with how much we’ve had to organise. It’s also been a very expensive month so I’ll get into costs later - it’s something we weren’t particularly prepared for and it’s obviously very important so hopefully this will be able to help you prepare properly.

The biggest task of all was the visa. I have to say the consulate’s website is pretty terrible and hard to navigate. But once I’d figured out what I was meant to be doing, I quickly realised just how much documentation you need to get together to be able to apply. The financial requirements in particular were a massive shock (if you receive less than £10,000 in maintenance loans per year you will have to provide a lot of extra documentation) and I was very lucky that what I needed was relatively easy to organise but that might not be the case for everyone, so PLEASE check well in advance! The list of criteria is here so make sure to read it very thoroughly before you apply. Once you have everything in line, you need to go into the consulate in London to hand in your documents. Frustratingly, they only quickly flick through them and then take your passport, visa application forms, passport photo, and Korean uni acceptance letter. According to the staff there they don’t need to see all your records if it’s a prestigious uni since they trust the unis’ processes, but of course it's best to have everything there. If all your documents are in line, you come back a week later to pick up your passport with the visa inside. If you live far away from London it might be a bit of a pain (and an expensive trip) to come all the way to the consulate so definitely make sure there’s nothing wrong with your application before you go. Also, very strangely, when you fill in the e-Form for the visa online, if you put British Subject for nationality it automatically puts your country of birth as British Subject rather than United Kingdom so watch out for that as I know a few people who made that mistake and had to go back to reapply!

In the end I did decide to apply to the SNU dormitories so I have also been sorting out the application for that. The online application really isn’t difficult at all but you also need to have a health certificate completed. The two things you need for your health certificate is proof that you’ve had two doses of the MMR vaccination (I believe they also accept the singular measles vaccination) and a negative-result tuberculosis screening. If you’ve already had the MMR vaccination then you just need to get the records from your GP but you do need to book in to have a TB screening. There are two options; chest x-ray or PPD test. Both have to be paid for but the x-ray is slightly cheaper. I believe the x-ray is around £75 (but that will depend on your local healthcare provider) and PPD is £90. I chose to go with the PPD test because the x-ray required a referral from your GP and my local GP surgery has a 2-3 week wait for appointments so I never would’ve had it all completed in time. The PPD test is done in travel clinics but you’re only eligible for this test if you haven’t been vaccinated against TB. It’s not commonplace these days but check just in case! I had mine done at the London Vaccination Clinic in Kings Cross. They did the PPD test, I came back 2 days later to have the results recorded and brought my vaccination history with me. They did the test for £90 with a £10 admin fee and filled out my certificate for me. It actually worked out a similar price to getting the x-ray because my local surgery wanted to charge £35 for filling out the certificate and they said it would’ve taken 2 weeks! So very glad I did it privately at a clinic instead.

I have also booked my flights and organised accommodation for the time between when I arrive and when the dorm move-in day is since it’s on 1st September, which is after my placement exam. Other than that I’ve been trying to meet up with my friends as much as possible and see family before I head off! It’s only 2 weeks to go now so everything is getting very real, very exciting and very scary

Here’s the breakdown of the costs so far:
SNU Application
New passport = £75
Applicants for other universities (definitely KU and maybe Sogang) need a health certificate for the university application, but they are not as comprehensive as the dorm health certificates so will most likely just be the admin fee of £25-£35ish

Visa
Notarisation of documents = approx. £75*
Visa cost = £160
Return travel costs to London x2 = £40

Dorms
PPD test £90+£10 admin fee = £100
Return travel costs to London x2 = £40
Deposit = 100,000 won (around £70 as of 8/19)
First semester of rent = 906,000 won (around £610 as of 8/19)**
--> deposit and first semester of rent due at the start of August

Flights
Open return = £790***

Short-term accommodation
Airbnb (9 days) = £350


TOTAL = just over £2300

*Notarisation is only need for people who are using a parental affidavit as proof of meeting the financial requirements
**This depends massively on the dormitory building you are allocated. I was allocated one of the most expensive dorm buildings but there are much cheaper options
***You can find flights cheaper if you book them before your place has been confirmed, I just wasn't willing to risk it! You may be eligible to have the flight cost reimbursed through student finance, however you must still pay the first £300

Last edited by umbrellala; 2 weeks ago
2
reply
YasudaSayo
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#19
Report 3 weeks ago
#19
Christ, that's expensive... I'm a bit worried about how I'm gonna get ahold of that much money when the time comes for my year abroad. :/ Also, why would they want a separate passport photo if you're giving them your passport? Thanks for tagging me btw
Last edited by YasudaSayo; 3 weeks ago
0
reply
umbrellala
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#20
Report Thread starter 3 weeks ago
#20
(Original post by YasudaSayo)
Christ, that's expensive... I'm a bit worried about how I'm gonna get ahold of that much money when the time comes for my year abroad. :/ Also, why would they want a separate passport photo if you're giving them your passport? Thanks for tagging me btw
The flight can be partially reimbursed by student finance and you can definitely get them cheaper than what I did. If you're not applying for dorms then it'll mean you don't have that cost and other uni dorms might have an earlier move-in date or you might choose not to do dorms at all and so you wouldn't need the temporary accommodation (although you'll then most likely have to pay deposits/key money). It'll change from person to person. It is expensive, but I lived extremely minimally throughout first year so that I could save money and had money left over from saving before I went to uni. If you're frugal (and studying at SOAS), you probably won't actually need the extra maintenance loan given to London students, in fact the amount of money I saved whilst at uni was almost identical to the extra we were given so that's a massive help. I don't know why they need another photo since I don't work at the visa office lol but I would assume it's so they have a photo of you for their own records
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts

All the exam results help you need

1,115

people online now

225,530

students helped last year

University open days

  • University of Dundee
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Mon, 26 Aug '19
  • University of Aberdeen
    General Open Day Undergraduate
    Tue, 27 Aug '19
  • Norwich University of the Arts
    Postgraduate (MA) Open Day Postgraduate
    Sat, 31 Aug '19

How are you feeling about GCSE Results Day?

Hopeful (213)
12.75%
Excited (150)
8.98%
Worried (302)
18.07%
Terrified (374)
22.38%
Meh (154)
9.22%
Confused (37)
2.21%
Putting on a brave face (229)
13.7%
Impatient (212)
12.69%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed