Hi, my name is Mia Nguyen and I studied at Korea University from August to December, 2014. Going on exchange was one of the best decisions that I have ever made; the experience was phenomenal. Although I came to Korea without knowing anything about this country and its culture, in the end, I fell in love with it. The hardest thing to do on exchange was saying good bye to all of the friends from around the world; however, I would not trade this experience for anything.
The campus was beautiful. I was able to experience three out of four seasons in Korea and they were very different from each other. The summer was really hot and humid and the winter was very cold and dry.
Korea University had an amazing buddy program called Korea University Buddy Assistants (KUBA); every exchange student was given a Korean KUBA buddy and these guys were absolutely amazing! They were a great support for exchange students; they were there to help me throughout the semester and planned many weekly activities for us to enjoy and experience the Korean culture. Through this group, I was able to meet many other exchange students and got to know many of the Korean buddies as well.
Every Fall, there is an event called “Koyeon Games” where Korea University and Yonsei University, two rivalry schools, compete in five different sports to determine the winner. I have never experienced this much excitement in my life; everyone was very enthusiastic during this event and the energy was just unbelievable. You will cheer like you’ve never cheered before. After the games, no matter which university has claimed the title, both universities will gather at one designated place to participate in the “Train Play”. It is impossible to describe how amazing this activity was, it was just incredible; the whole street was closed down and we had to “beg” for free food and drinks. We were dancing, singing, drinking, and cheering all night long; things like this don’t happen in Vancouver.
The food culture and drinking culture are huge in Korea. Almost everyone drinks in Korea; even some professors will invite you to grab a few drinks with them. I noticed that there weren’t a lot of vegetarian options in Korea, but other than that, the food was amazing. Korean foods tend to be on the spicy side, which I really liked; however, some dishes were so spicy that people were having “allergic” reactions as they ate.
I highly recommend coming to Korea University or any university in Korea as an exchange destination because there are many little things in Korea that will amaze you. I’ve learned a lot from this experience and enjoyed my time in Korea and I hope others will too. My takeaway from this trip and advice for future students is to have an open mind when studying abroad; that way, you’ll be able to experience everything that the country and its culture have to offer. Korea is very different from Vancouver and you’ll be seeing a lot of people taking selfies; it’s only right for me to end this blog with a few selfies of my own. You’ll have a blast in Korea, trust me.