Moving to South Korea – A student experience

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From Stockholm to Seoul

Someya from Sweden started her full degree program in South Korea in March 2021. She will be studying international business for four years at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. Someya is sharing her honest experience with us in the two upcoming blog posts. Are you ready for part one? Let’s dive into it!

Someya can you tell us about yourself? 

Yeah, of course, so I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and I lived there my whole life. I’m 22 and last year I decided that I had had enough of Stockholm, so I came to Korea. I moved here in February of this year. I’ve been to Korea once before. So I was not completely unfamiliar with it, but it was definitely a big change, travelling and moving. 

Why did you leave your life in Sweden behind? One day you woke up and you decided to leave?

Not really. I had always felt like Stockholm wasn’t truly my place to be. It will always be home for me, of course, but it wasn’t the place where I could see myself living. And I just wanted to experience something completely different. I wanted to experience the complete opposite of Stockholm in every single way. I thought that I would find what I was longing for probably be somewhere in Asia. It was the furthest away from Sweden I could think of. So yeah, I guess this was back in 2019 when I decided to go on this little Asia travel trip. My best friend from Stockholm and I went to China, Japan and South Korea. None of those two first countries felt like I connected with. Then we came to South Korea and I actually stayed here for five weeks longer than I was supposed to. My best friend went home back to Sweden and I extended my stay in Korea because I just liked it so much here.

South Korea Seoul city view
“I was not completely unfamiliar with South Korea, but it was definitely a big change!”

Let’s talk about the pre-leaving period. Were you stressed or excited? How did you feel?

It was a little bit messy because of paperwork, but I feel like that comes with the process of moving abroad. It’s just like a part of the package that you have to accept. It was mainly just paperwork and getting the visa on time that was stressing me out. But other than that, I feel like it went pretty smoothly. I had been planning this for so long. Thus, I had the capacity to take my time and to do everything on schedule.

Was it harder to prepare for Korea because of Covid?

The preparation went without any obstacles. And the Korean embassy and the Swedish authorities were very helpful. Both also helped me a lot when I got to Korea. Consequently, the whole process was very smoothly on the trip.

And how was quarantine? Did you pay for it?

I chose to stay in an Airbnb apartment, which, if I’m not wrong, is for people who are staying longer than 90 days or who have a long term visa. That might have changed now. This was in February 2021. I paid for that myself. The price range is different, depending on where you live and what type of Airbnb you want. It’s important to remember that when you are staying in an Airbnb you are also paying for food and everything else. Versus when you are in a government facility, where it’s all-inclusive. 

You can find the latest updates regarding quarantine for incoming foreigners in South Korea on the website of your home embassy (e.g. U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the Republic of Korea)

South Korea city shop hangul streets
“Take your time with getting settled in Korea. It will make such a huge difference in the quality of your time abroad”

Are you learning Korean?

I’m trying to, but I’m not there yet. It’s a hard language. It’s a beautiful language, however, it’s a hard language. So I’m giving my best. It’s easier learning it when you’re in South Korea because you use a little bit of it every day. So even if you only use it at the supermarket or, you know, at the 7-Eleven or the coffee shop, it’s still going to help a lot to have a daily practice. So that’s a really big plus.

What would you recommend to anyone travelling to South Korea? Whether it is for a full degree, a semester, or holidays.

I would recommend you to take your time with getting settled in Korea. It will make such a huge difference in the quality of your time here. I was in a little bit of a rush when I first got to Korea. As soon as I got out of quarantine, I had to travel around. I wanted to meet a bunch of people and everything. And I didn’t have time to realize that I was in Korea, to begin with. I would say just have a smooth settling into Korea first so that you can truly enjoy living in Korea.

Do you want to know more about the full degree program at HUFS? Click here! 

If you had to describe your experience so far in just a few words, what would you say?

Surreal. Amazing. And learning experience -in a positive way!

Read part 2 of the interview with Someya next week! 

South Korea Seoul temple cars street
If you truly want to experience South Korea and immerse yourself in the culture we recommend a full degree program!

Do you want to study abroad in South Korea? Find out more information here!

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This interview was conducted by our intern Marie!