Read this before studying in South Korea!
There are a lot of things you have to know and understand when studying in South Korea. But the eight main ones are ensure you practice your Korean often, learn the history of Korea, find friends, explore Korea, exercise discipline for your studies, create a firm budget, understand the weather and know their cultural norms. All of these things will not only help you thrive abroad in South Korea, but they will also allow you to enjoy Korean culture. They are friendly and social people with a rich past, wonderful food and amazing nightlife. So, you should work hard but you also want to play hard.
- Practice Korean Often
- Learn Korean History
- Find Some New Friends
- Explore Your Neighborhood ; All of Seoul
- Exercise Discipline for Your Studies
- Understand Prices ; Create a Budget
- Understand the Seasons, Weather ; Holidays
- Have a Solid Grasp on Cultural Norms, Customs ; Hierarchy
1. Practice Korean Often
It’s imperative you have a solid command of the Korean language when you study in South Korea. The reasons for this are obvious. It will help you understand instructors, administrators, classmates and other people in your day-to-day dealings.
This means practicing before you go and while you’re there as much as possible. Set time aside every day for reading, listening, speaking and writing in Korean.
2. Learn Korean History
Korea has a long and ancient history that will help you understand their culture in the present time. They have a rich line of royalty along with wars, battles and other events that have shaped and molded the country to what it is today. This is especially true of the split between the north and south and what that means for Koreans.
3. Find Some New Friends
The best way to understand your surroundings while studying in Korea is to find some new friends. They will take you to the best places to eat, drink and enjoy the ever-popular socializing so commonplace to Korean culture. Plus, they can help you practice your Korean and give you tidbits about history that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
4. Explore Your Neighborhood – All of Seoul
When you aren’t in school, studying or doing homework, spend some time exploring your immediate neighborhood and all of Seoul. Know the streets and where things are so you don’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers or burden your new friends.
If you get a chance, go out to the country and rural areas of South Korea as well. There are some beautiful natural spots and gorgeous vistas to take in that are unlike anything in most Western countries. However, you may have to reserve time to do this once you get used to your schedule and which days you have free.
5. Exercise Discipline for Your Studies
While it’s good to have friends, experience Korean nightlife and see the country, you must exercise discipline for your education. Remember, you are there to study and expand your knowledge base. Therefore it should be your main priority above leisure and fun.
This is easier said than done because socializing and parties are integral to the Korean way of life. But, people place a lot of value and respect on education. So, you can kindly refuse invitations on this basis and people will understand.
If you have noisy roommates or neighbors, you will have to find a quiet place to study. Most people will go to independent cafés or find a spot that advertises a quiet environment, such as a library.
6. Understand Prices – Create a Budget
South Korea tends to have higher prices when it comes to living expenses, groceries, utilities, transportation and etc. It’s imperative to draw up a budget for yourself and stick to it. This will be crucial for survival and to ensure you pay all your bills on time. Such things will impinge on your source(s) of income.
7. Understand the Seasons – Weather
Korea gets hot as early as April and can have intensely cold winters that begin in November. They tend to have severe shifts in temperature and seasons that most Westerners find difficult to tolerate. So, understanding the seasons and weather will be important to understanding what kind of clothing to bring.
Korea is generally a tropical/subtropical region and it will be considerably humid from spring to autumn with a rainy season in summer. Although only for a few months, their winters are quite intense.
8. Have a Solid Grasp on Cultural Norms – Customs
Koreans have a distinct social and cultural structure that very much bases itself on hierarchy. Elders, people with more experience and those with a higher status receive the utmost respect and honor considerations. What they say goes and the optics are really bad when anyone “below” them protests or disagrees.
Drinking – Eating Etiquette
This goes for dining out or drinking with a group of people as well as conduct and behavior in educational situations. Therefore, until you have a solid handle on how this goes, remain quiet and observe.
Even if you end up eating and drinking alone, there is etiquette to follow. For instance, never inhale your food and don’t chew with your mouth open. It’s considered rude to eat loudly. Also, try to get your server to pour your drinks for you so as to follow proper drinking protocols.
Don’t Tip Your Server
Don’t tip your server as it is hubris to do so. Tipping suggests you’re of a higher status or experience than your server. He/she might interpret it as an insult since you don’t really know each other.
South Korea is a beautiful country with lovely and lively people. Having the chance to study there will bring a thorough understanding of the culture. It will bring an enlightened balance of how they hold education in high regard but also the ways in which they relax and experience leisure.
Do you want to study abroad in South Korea? Find out more information about Seoul here or Busan here!
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