I am going to Kyonggi University, in Suwon, South Korea. It is a good university, though it was built in literally a HILL, so you would have to climb the hill to go to class. Not that I’m complaining though, it’s like working out, which is good for your health and body~.
I took some courses in English, related to International Business and the East Asian region. Actually, the selection of courses wasn’t that great, but enough. The classes in Korea are quite different from Finland, more about listening to the lecture of the teacher than discussing among students. It is not hard, I don’t have to put a lot of effort to get a good grade. But I believe that because my courses are left easier for they are in English. I’ve been witnessing Korean students study so so hard for their exams: no one playing sports, no one hanging out, just eating ramen and studying.
I also took an intensive Korean Language course for 10 weeks, from Monday to Friday every week, which is really “intense” and so I could be confident to say that I can speak Korean now. So if you are interested in Korean language, I highly recommend this kind of intensive course since you can really take something out if it (of course with a lot more effort) compared to the normal language course once a week.
I had quite a lot free time during the semester, considering taking only 4 courses. I usually hang out with other exchange students, most of which are from France or Germany, some from Mexico, and I am the only one from Finland. Everyone is nice and friendly. Together we try Korean food (most of which is SUPER spicy) and travel around. Suwon is less than 1 hour away from Seoul by subway so we go there quite a lot.
There are so many places to visit and many things to try so you have to be selective. My favorites are the palaces, museums, Korean sauna (called Jimjilbang), or just wandering around shopping areas like Kangnam or Myungdong.
Korean people are really friendly, you can get a lot of free services in restaurants and shops when you are foreigner. Some of them also love to ask about you and your country, in Korean most of the time of course. But Korean students can be very shy, if you are foreigner and speak English. I guess they are afraid of making mistakes in English. But when you got to be friends with them, they are really nice and fun. Korean students are good at drinking and having fun in clubs and bars, or so I’ve heard since I don’t really go there.
Oh and one thing, there’s literally so personal space in Korea, which I miss the most about Finland. People love to squeeze together over here. And sometimes, in the subway or elevator, they just come straight to you, pushing you out of your place so that they can stand there, which still puzzles me until now.
All in all, I’ve been having a great time in Korea. It is a nice blend between tradition and modernity. I found the country so young and lively and buzzling but also deep in rich culture and history and tradition. So I’ve got to experience a lot, all of which is precious to me, as well as to make so many great friends, not only Koreans but all over the world, each of whom is dear to be now.