Finally, the post I should have done up loooooong ago, the post about my school!
I shall not talk about all those history and how it was founded etc. Cos it can all be found on Wikipedia (:
Yonsei University is ranked #3 in the Joongang Ilbo Korean Universities Rankings 2012, after KAIST and POSTEC, overtaking Seoul National University. It is the best private university in Korea. It is ranked #114 in QS world ranking for the year 2013/14, and #16 in QS Asia ranking for the year 2013 .
Now that we’re done with the technical parts, I’ll move on to my own experience in Yonsei University and things you should know if you want to enter.
Firstly, I will talk about UIC – Underwood International College. It’s a 4-year liberal arts college in Yonsei. Classes are conducted in English (so no worries for non-Korean speakers), and while international students are the minority (my batch had about 30+ international students out of about 200 students in total) there is great diversity here. We have people mostly from Vietnam, China and the United States, but we also have students from France, Uzbekistan, Belgium, Poland, Iran, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore (me!! hehe) just to name a few from my batch. Senior batches have great diversity too. The Korean students are mostly those who have lived overseas for a period of time, whether they grew up overseas (I’ve met one who grew up in Kenya) or their parents sent them to the States for a year or two to improve their English (apparently this is really common here). So don’t worry about the language part, cos everyone in UIC speaks English (:
Professors here are also a mix of nationalities, of course we have the Korean professors (most of them have graduated from US universities, I’ve had professors from Cornell and other Ivies) and also professors from the States, UK, and even India and Denmark. UIC faculty all speak perfect English, so don’t worry about not being able to understand Korean-accented English.
There are courses like Critical Reasoning and World Literature that you have to fulfill for graduation requirements (more details on courses in common curriculum can be found on the UIC website). Yonsei students also have to take 4 semesters of Chapel and fulfill a 3-credit course on Understanding Christianity. This is because the university was founded by a Christian missionary, so the school keeps the tradition. However, don’t worry if you’re not a Christian, cos I’m not one as well. You can just sit and do work in Chapel, or sometimes listen to the talks that may or may not be related to Christianity. As for understanding Christianity, I took a class on Modern World and Christianity, which isn’t preaching about Christianity or anything but rather, world issues and ethical issues with Christianity featuring just a little in it.
However, you have to understand that studying in Korea (or even UIC) isn’t all a bed of roses. If you take classes that are not taught by UIC faculty, you might have to deal with Korean-accented English that you may have difficulties understanding. Moreover, if classes are not UIC exclusive, you might be faced with language problems. I had a class that wasn’t UIC exclusive, and for groupwork the Professor put one international student in each group. The group spoke in Korean and I couldn’t take part in the discussion at all, it was really bad ): But being an international student, you have to be prepared for such instances and try to either overcome them or live with it.
Yonsei International Campus (YIC)
I’m sure many people have questions about this place. Being part of the first (or rather second batch since I came in Fall) batch of students who were sent to the new campus in Songdo, Incheon, I believe I am pretty much an expert with regard to this place.
This campus was opened in Spring 2011, and freshman from UIC, pre-med, pre-dental, Open Major were the first students to be sent here. Songdo is a reclaimed land down the south of Incheon, 1 hour away from Seoul by car and about 20-30mins away from Incheon International airport by car. Being a new town, there was nothing here initially (by nothing, I really mean nothing, not even the subway station) when the students came in Spring 2011. However, I will now talk about the situation here in Spring 2012, after a year of improvements.
First, we have a subway station called Campus Town station. It’s about 500m walk from the school buildings. There are shuttle buses that run to Sinchon campus (though the frequency could be improved), and shuttle bus that runs to the Police Coast Guard (otherwise known as downtown) every hour during the weekdays. There is a bus right outside school you can take to downtown Songdo as well. There are also buses running from Campus Town station to Sinchon and Gangnam. There is an E-mart just 2 subway stations away at Dongchun, and many people go to Incheon Bus Terminal or Bupyeong to play during the weekends. Downtown Songdo also has many eateries and shops, and also a supermarket. Although we are far from Seoul, we do have basic necessities that are easily available. There is a Woori bank in school and also Family Mart, Cafe Pascucci, a bookstore, laundry room, student kitchen, cafeteria and Docufriends, a place to print your documents. So most of the amenities that a student require are pretty much all here.
The campus has taken in more students this semester compared to last semester, opening up to more majors such as Asian Studies Division (under UIC) and Techno Art Division (also under UIC). It has become livelier compared to last semester. However, there are still some shortcomings you need to be aware of when you are here.
Firstly, as an international student, it is difficult to communicate with the people at the housing office and the bank and the maintenance office here on campus because they don’t speak English. The only place that speaks English is the Administration Office. And only one of the security guards know English. So if you don’t know Korean, you need to get help from your Korean friends. However, all these are all slowly improving (definitely an improvement from last semester), and professors in charge of international students are always willing to help and are always checking up on us frequently to ensure that we are doing fine.
The campus is also still under construction, so there could be noise coming from the construction sites. However, it’s said that the second phase of the campus will be ready in 2013, so it’ll have more school buildings (compared to the 3 we have now) and more dormitory buildings.
The second phase of construction was already completed in early 2013, and now all Yonsei freshmen have to go to YIC for their first semester. The campus now has more amenities (including a mobile phone shop and even a travel agency) and there are now even more people on campus. With the crowd, more services are now available, such as increase of public buses between the campus and Seoul (there used to be only 2 in my time, but now there are 3 or 4 such bus routes). Taxi drivers also now know where the campus is. There is also a new mall (Square 1) that is also 2 subway stops away at Dongchun Station, across from Emart.
The Sinchon campus is obviously much bigger than YIC, and in Fall it’s really pretty cos the entire main path will be covered with yellow leaves. It’s incredible ^^
The Sinchon campus is located very strategically in the heart of Seoul, with Ewha Women’s University (Edae) just beside it. There is an entire shopping street in Sinchon and Edae, and it’s also near the subway (Sinchon station, Line 2). There are many hasukjibs (one rooms where you live with many other students and the landlady ahjumma provides breakfast and dinner) around the area since there are many universities in the vicinity (Yonsei, Edae, Sogang, even Hongdae as well). Sinchon is also one subway station away from Hongik University (Hongdae), an art street as well as a shopping paradise. There are many pubs and clubs and sometimes bands singing on the streets of Hongdae. I’ve also seen people filming on the streets of Hongdae (though the guy is unknown, he’s pretty hot keke. Maybe the next idol group or smth LOL). Sinchon is also near Seoul station and about 20mins away from Myeongdong, so it’s a really good location (in my opinion, since I’m looking at the shopping keke).
Maybe I will do a more detailed post about Sinchon campus after moving there next semester ^^
For more information:
Yonsei Website: http://www.yonsei.ac.kr/eng/
UIC Website: http://uic.yonsei.ac.kr/