Is it hard to study abroad in South Korea?

South Korea is a great place to study abroad. The education system is world-renowned and the people are friendly. However, In this article, we will show some of the common challenges you may experience while studying in South Korea. 

Studying in South Korea is not hard as it is a country that has a lot of value and regards for education. They consider education as a prerequisite for the nation and global development, and the governments are taking proactive steps to ensure the students have the best experience they can ever imagine.

On the other way, studying in South Korea can pose various challenges depending on your career choice and your school of preference. However, the advisable thing to do is to be well equipped with the necessary information you need about a particular school and course of preference, to make a well-informed decision and be prepared for what is ahead.

There is a saying that “nothing great ever came that easy”, schooling in general, is not an easy task whether local or abroad. What you need to do is to remain updated and that way you can be smart about your choices and be at ease amid all turmoil.

It is in this light that we will consider the perks and the pitfall of studying in South Korea based on their educational standard, cultural differences, financial barriers, and the best practices to keep while studying.

Educational Standard

South Korea’s educational system is ranked high among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries, for their high proficiency in reading, mathematics, and even science. It is no doubt that education is well valued among the people of South Korea.

The higher education program in South Korea is divided into four (4): The full-time degree program, the exchange student program, the short-term program, and the Korean language program. All these programs have their peculiarities, and depending on the program of your choice one of them will be a perfect suit for you.

If you wish to study in South Korea, and unless you are taking all your courses in English, there is a proficiency exam you will be required to take, and its called “TOPIK” an acronym for Test of Proficiency in Korean, it is a text written for non-Korean native-speakers who wish to study in any Korean university.

It is always taken six times annually and registration is around KRW 33,000 for the first level and KRW 55,000 for the second level.

Most South Korean Universities offer their scholarship based on the candidate’s TOPIK grade. Since this exam can be written online, if you are considering studying in South Korea it help you a great deal to check the TOPIK website and prepare adequately for it.

The government annually ensures that there are a minimum of 1500 scholarship beneficiaries in South Korea annually, and this is open to those pursuing a degree program or an exchange program.

The government-wide assistance of South Korean institutions has also spread its tentacles to institute the “International Education Quality Assurance System (IEQAS),” a body that was established to improve the ability of South Korean higher education institutions by providing exclusive privileges to recognized schools.

They also introduced a globalization index for university rankings, encouraging colleges to focus on globalization methods like offering English lectures.

For most South Korean institutions, the average tuition fee is $5500, this might resonate well with some people, especially those who were able to secure a scholarship, but for others, it may not sit well with them.

South Korean institutions have high educational standards, and this is what has attracted a lot of immigrants, and also helped in their national development.

Cultural Differences

Before leaving your hometown to study in South Korea, it will intrigue you to know that they have cultural preferences that may not be compromised because of you. In that case, you know you will have to blend in and adapt.

For instance, the Chinese and Japanese civilizations have had a significant impact on Korean culture. These customs include following an ethical code in social situations and treating elders and family members with respect.

Koreans value sincerity and loyalty, and they adhere to particular rules when meeting, eating,

worshiping, and even rejoicing. Koreans bow instead of shaking hands, as many other cultures do. They bow to express their thanks and respect for the individual they are meeting.

Also, based on religion, the emergence of Christianity and Buddhism in South Korea has been notable. Hence, it is your responsibility as an immigrant to respect that, and if you feel you will be intimidated by these religions, it is up is on you to make a smart decision.

Festivals are extremely important in Korean culture. Korean festivals are vibrant, colorful, and joyful, and they take place all year. The majority of holidays and celebrations revolve around harvest and family.

Rice, noodles, veggies, and meats make up the majority of Korean cuisine. Bibimbap, bulgogi, and dakgalbi are some of the most well-known Korean meals. Korean table manners are centered on civility and respect, which is seen in Korean culture.

Well, I believe your priority is to study, but that still doesn’t deny the fact that your environment matters a lot. Adaptation is the key to survival, and if you focus on your primary goal I believe you will survive.

Financial Barriers/ Cost of Living

Housing will be the major living expense in South Korea, as it is in most nations. Immigrants who would like to secure an apartment outside the institution, especially those not on a scholarship will have to pay a large sum of money to secure an apartment in a prominent place.  

When comparing the cost of living in South Korean cities, you will find that Seoul has the highest cost of living. However, this does not imply that living in the capital city is too expensive.

In general, the cost of living in South Korea depends on the desired lifestyle you chose to exhibit. The smallest communities or nations with the lowest cost of living can as well in their unique ways exhaust your savings depending on your living style.

The average cost of getting a suitable apartment in South Korea is around $400. Although, this can be gotten way lesser, depending on the location. Also, getting a good meal in an inexpensive restaurant is possible. With around  $6.5, you can get a good meal.

It is important as a student to have a financial plan for yourself before traveling, that way you will be less distracted by the challenges financial bankruptcy may pose.

Best Practices To Keep While Studying In South Korea

  • You should keep an open mind while studying and living in South Korea. To make the best out of your stay in South Korea, expect things to be done differently than you were used to. When you keep an open mind, you will not experience too much culture shock and you will be able to embrace the Irish culture with ease.
  • Your Korean institution most likely has a program or some initiatives that assist international students in making contact with Korean students. “Korea University Buddy Assistants (KUBA)” is a fantastic initiative at Korean University. The companions are there for a variety of reasons, ranging from restaurant recommendations to conversation exercises.
  • Go to class and take your studies seriously. In South Korea, your result may be dependent solely on a few tests and one big paper, rather than lesser assignments. So that your GPA doesn’t plummet, prepare for these major tasks and assessments.
  • If you’re not sure if you’re on the right track, you should surely seek clarification. It is preferable for you to complete this task ahead of time, far before your final grade is released. Find out how that professor wants that paper to be written or what areas will be covered on that big exam. Ask questions.
  • It can be beneficial to stay updated by watching the shows. You wouldn’t need to be an expert, but you should be aware of key historical and contemporary events. Things may come up in conversation, but even if they don’t, you’ll gain a better grasp of Korean society and history. Knowledge is power.
  • You should explore the country. You came to South Korea to learn overseas for a purpose, so don’t miss out on the chance to see the rest of the nation. There are many things to explore when studying abroad in South Korea, from historic monasteries to Seoraksan Nature Reserve.
  • Watching more Filipino shows or movies before coming to the Philippines can help. You get to see how things are done and how people behave and react to certain things.
  • Ask questions and be polite. When you are not sure about what to do or say, you are free to ask people and they’ll be happy to help. 

I am certain you will find your stay in South Korea an interesting adventure, just stay positive, open to ideas, and never forget to learn from others.