One of the study abroad opportunities available through MSU is the Yonsei University exchange program, located in Seoul, South Korea at one of the nation’s top universities. Students can pick from fall, spring, and summer programs and can study intensive Korean through their KLI courses available. Other areas of study available, with some being offered in English, are Korean history, politics, and popular culture. For more information and details please visit the MSU’s Education of Office Abroad website.
Study Abroad FAQ
A student, or D-2 visa, allows U.S. students to reside and study in Korea. Requirements vary, but general required documents include a passport photo, acceptance letter and certificate of enrollment/business from the exchange university, and a visa application form. Please refer to the Long-term VisaConsulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago website for more information.
What to bring abroad
Make sure to bring important identity pieces, such as your passport and driver’s license. Additionally, bring a debit or credit card to get you by until you can open a bank account in Korea. Medications and long-term refills should be brought from home, as the healthcare system will be different abroad.
What to expect
Expect culture shock, whether big or small, as you’ll be entering a new country where ways of living are not necessarily the same as at home. As a study abroad student, you’ll still be responsible for your studies, so expect to dedicate a good portion of your time to schooling.
Yonsei offers two dormitories, for exchange students only, to stay in during their study abroad; International house is for females only, while SK Global is open to anyone. Apply quickly as spots fill very quickly, and are not guaranteed. Students can also find goshiwons and other off campus housing options, but these are not affiliated with Yonsei in any way, although Yonsei will give recommendations. Yonsei staff that will give the date of application and link to accepted exchange students.
Students should check their email frequently for information from the host university. Make sure to check your spam, as email is the main communication form and it’s up to the student to be up to date and aware of their school’s regulations and deadlines.
Students can try and find internships or extra-curricular activities once at Yonsei, but these are made only through self-arrangement as they are not required and not part of MSU’s exchange with Yonsei; Yonsei has many clubs exchange students can join.
Getting to Yonsei
From Incheon airport, buy a bus ticket downstairs from the main arrivals gate, and take Bus 6011 to get off at Ehwa Woman’s Back Gate, four stops from the airport. The bus will announce the stop in both Korean and English, and it will be written on the electronic board at the front of the bus. Basic Hangeul reading is extremely recommended for at least recognizing names of places. Press the button to alert the bus you’re getting off at the stop. Other travel options include the Airport Railroad, which feeds into the metro system, and is cheaper than by bus. However, it is more difficult as you’ll be carrying luggage and will have to get off at multiple stops and navigate the metro. There are also taxis, which are convenient but more expensive, and may additionally provide language barrier issues.
The Korean won is the currency used, so be sure to exchange cash prior to leaving for Korea or at an exchange kiosk in the airport. Korea is primarily a card country and it’s taken mostly everywhere, and usually seems to be the preferred method. Cash is good to keep on hand, however, as not all taxis take cards. Street markets and food stands may also not take cards.
Taxis are relatively easy to hail during the day as they drive around Seoul frequently, but communication may be difficult. Please note, Google and Google Maps do not work in Korea, so all directions and addresses will be either unavailable or too vague and will make it too difficult for taxi drivers to discern if you can’t communicate your desired location or directions in Korean. Black taxis are luxury and much more expensive, please be aware of these. Ubers don’t exist in Korea, but it may be possible to call forth taxi drivers using the app, although they are not legally with the company. KakaoTaxi is essentially Korean Uber, as it inputs the pick up and drop off location into the app directly so communication with the driver is not as essential. As well, it can call a taxi for you when none are nearby or if you need a larger car for luggage, etc. Note that this option requires a working Korean phone number
MSU Office of Education Abroad
The office will hold orientation events for your specific program location, continent wise such as Asia, Europe, etc, and will be beneficial to attend as it provides health insurance cards and gives information on what MSU expects and requires of its participants. It also mentions what students should prepare and be aware of before departing. The office itself is a tool to be used, as they can answer any specific questions or concerns you may have. This will also be with whom you’ll be having the majority of your communication with, so during unexpected events, such as covid-19 or program issues, you’ll receive any instructions or directions from them.
Korean food is widely regarded as healthy and flavorful. Vegetarian and vegan foods won’t be the easiest to find, so be prepared to be flexible in where and how you eat; grocery shopping and cafes may be the best bet for vegetarians, but it’s not impossible to find in restaurants. Korean food has a lot of vegetables as side dishes, such as kimchi or pickled radishes. It will require some flexibility and ingenuity but is manageable. Fruit is generally more expensive than in the US and is not always readily available unless it is in season. As it’s quite common for families to live together, portion sizes in grocery stores may be bigger than U.S. sizes.
Public transport is a widely used mode of transport by most people living in Seoul, although many people also drive or take taxis. It’s reliable and safe to use, and is cheap to ride. To use public transport, including the bus and metro, a T-money card is required. It’s a card you tap in and out of the bus or metro, and you top it up with money at the machines located in the metro stations. It resembles an Oyster card or a MetroCard.