Advice for Underwood International College students

So this was what led me back to the blog after a year, hopefully it will help prospective students in terms of what to expect and current students in terms of advice and encouragement.

My Top 5 list for “success” at UIC

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Spring in Korea

Spring has arrived in Korea a while ago, but I’m only writing now because I finally feel like I have enough photos to show! (Actually more like I was busy with midterms and thesis :P)

So spring, where the freezing winter is no longer and you see the sun more, the green shoot growing and the flowers blooming. I still can’t decide if my favorite season is spring or fall, but I love the feeling of warming days and finally being able to shed those down jackets in exchange for colorful knits and now it’s even warm enough for cardigans! Oh the joy 😀

So the signal of spring in Korea comes sometime around mid-March, when the temperatures begin to slowly rise above 0°C. Though the skies are still gloomy and your fingers are still frozen, you realise that the sun rises and sets a little later every day. By the end of March, the real spring weather (around 10-15°C) would have arrived in Korea usually! But by mid-May or June it would be the sweltering summer so make the most of spring!

Some features of spring in Korea:

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Studying Abroad – How to persuade your parents and yourself?

After being inactive for a million years, I’m finally back, and I plan to write as often as I can this semester before I graduate! (Yes, this is my last semester in Korea ㅠㅠ) It’s been a journey full of ups and downs and I really wish to document more of my thoughts and my life in Korea in these last few months here. Thank you for staying with me even though I haven’t been updating often, but I hope that my posts will be of interest to you!

As you can see from the title, I’m talking about something that might be a problem some of you are facing now – how to convince your parents that you’re making the right choice in studying overseas? In fact, I faced the same problem 4 years ago, and today I’m facing the same problem again as I intend to go to graduate school. Some of you have asked me the same question about how I managed to persuade my parents, so I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences and thoughts.First question is always, why Korea?

To be specific, the question my parents asked was “why don’t you want to go to NUS?” In the case for Singapore at least, we have pretty well-acclaimed universities and going to Yonsei appeared to be some sort of downgrade. I had good scholarship offers too, but the scholarship providers did not want me to go to Yonsei (and thus I rejected their offers in the end).

For this question, you would have to answer to three groups of people: 1) Your parents 2) Your relatives and friends 3) Yourself.

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[WOW Korea] National Hangeul Museum for all Korean Language Enthusiasts!

For anyone who knows a little about the Korean language, you would have learnt that the written language (or Hangeul; 한글 in Korean) was invented and propagated by King Sejong (yup, that’s the one sitting right at Gwanghwamun square!)

The inventor of Hangeul, King Sejong. Source: flickr.com

The inventor of Hangeul, King Sejong. Source: flickr.com

The Korean language in the past was only a spoken language and was written in classical Chinese characters (what we know as Hanja;한자 today). However, King Sejong worked towards creating an alphabet that was unique to the Koreans, which would correspond to the way the Korean language is spoken, instead of pronouncing Chinese characters in Korean language like before. And thus the Hangeul was born! I have to say that the Korean alphabet is one of the easiest to learn, because you just need to fit different pieces together and you would know how to pronounce the word already 😀 (And of course it is really much easier than Chinese characters)

Just last year, Hangeul Day which is celebrated on October 9th was made a public holiday in South Korea. Also in further efforts towards the promotion of Hangeul, the National Hangeul Museum was recently opened on Hangeul Day this year. The museum features exhibitions tracing the history of the development of Hangeul as well as artifacts related to the Hangeul.

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Live chat event with current Underwood International College students!

After a few months of spamming you guys with travelling in Korea and education-related topics, I am finally sharing more about studying in Korea! Hope that you guys don’t mind because I do feel that you can learn more about travelling in Korea as part of student life, and education articles are a way of showing what activities you can join in Korea as a “SNS supporter” of a UNESCO organization.

This “SNS supporters” thing seems quite unique to Korea, basically organizations like to recruit university students to help promote them or some ideas on their own SNS channels. For instance, Wow Korea supporters aim are supposed to promote Korean tourism. And as UNESCO APCEIU supporter I join conferences or events and through writing articles I’m supposed to promote education for international understanding. There are many other organizations recruiting supporters too, such as KOTRA from what I’ve heard. So depending on your interests there are many such organizations you can join, outside of school!

But I digress. The main point of this post is this live event that I’m very excited about! So basically two of my best friends in school, Amalia and Thanh who are running the Woori UIC Youtube channel are planning to hold a live event via Youtube! What this means is that you get to chat with them in real time, and get all the answers to your questions immediately!

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[WOW Korea] Some must-try Korean Food in Winter!

Winter has almost arrived in Korea, and while the great temperature range in the day is driving me crazy, I am actually waiting quite expectantly for snow since I missed out on it entirely last winter when I was in Japan for my exchange. Another thing to look forward to would be the food! Sometimes there are just some food that tastes better when you have it in certain seasons (like having naengmyeon when the weather isn’t hot yet is just weird), and so here I’m recommending three winter must-haves in Korea!

1. Odeng (오뎅)

Source: blog.naver.com/neep/120200402604

One of the most popular must-try street food! Especially tasty in winter. Source: blog.naver.com/neep/120200402604

When Korean street food is mentioned you might think of ddeokbokki first, but when winter comes around odeng (fishcakes) is what people look for! It may seem crazy to be standing out in the cold eating from street stalls like this:

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[WOW Korea] Singaporean Coffee Shop in Korea?

This week’s WOW Korea mission is to introduce a restaurant with specialty from our home countries. There are not many Singaporean restaurants here, and they tend to be very expensive too so I haven’t been to any of them. So I would instead introduce to you a Singaporean cafe that I have visited a few times!

The first time I saw the word “Kopitiam” (it means coffee shop in Hokkien and it’s a commonly used word in Singapore) while walking along Edae I thought I must have seen it wrongly. But I heard from other Singaporean friends and realised that there was really a “Kopitiam” in Edae!

Kopitiam Singapore Toast and Coffee

They have changed the interior a few times since I started going, but their menu has remained true to Singaporean flavors. It appears to me as a kind of fusion between a Korean cafe where they have the usual Americano and green tea latte, and a Singaporean-style “kopitiam” where we would have coffee or milk tea and some kaya toast to go with it.

Iced milk tea in the summer with kaya toast!

Iced milk tea in the summer with kaya toast!

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Dreaming Korea – Useful website for prospective students

As I always say, I am quite a boring person (no joke!) and I’m been getting increasingly busy with school which means less time for updates, so I am constantly on the lookout for other related websites where you guys can get to know more about student life in Korea or about some other universities.

Recently I was contacted by Dreaming Korea, a website that provides information for students who wish to further their studies in Korea. Looking at their website, I really wish that it had existed at the time I was applying for university! It has basically collated much information about the various universities that you can easily access, and also features some posts about universities or life in general. Now this is important because my experience is mostly about Yonsei University or just Underwood International College, and everything else is what I hear from some of my friends from other universities. But reading interviews from this website you can directly hear from other students in some other universities!

Dreaming Korea

These are the main reasons why I decided to contribute to the website (under Community –> Campus Life) and gave an interview with the website. I guess I never really got down to talking about my life in Korea more personally because I never had the full list of questions before. Perhaps the interview might answer some of your questions too!

URL to the interview:

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Career prospects with a degree from Korean universities

Since I will become a senior in the coming fall semester, I guess this is one question I have become more informed about compared to my time as an innocent freshman. I do get quite some questions about this too, so I hope this post can help you a bit more in making your decision to come study in a Korean university.

Some basics you need to know about working in Korea before we start:

Local Korean companies vs Multi-National companies
For local Korean companies, they would definitely require Korean proficiency. And when I say Korean proficiency, it is not 반말 (the form of informal Korean you use with your friends), but formal, business Korean. So if your aim is to work in Korea, in a local company, you definitely have to be able to speak Korean well.
*Note: Korean multinationals like Samsung or LG are not really in this category

The number of multinational companies that choose to locate in Seoul has been increasing over the years, and Korean multinationals such as Samsung are becoming well-known brands worldwide. In this globalizing context, such companies have two tracks of employment. One would be the local track where they are looking for Koreans to work in local branches and contact with local clients, and the international track where they are looking to send employees overseas or back to their home countries, or deal with international clients. For the local track, it is the same as Korean companies – Korean proficiency is needed. Korean proficiency is not always needed for global track.

However the international track is becoming more and more competitive due to its better employee benefits and the opportunities for overseas posting. Also, working in the more global departments in multinationals gives one a higher chance of escaping from the strict hierarchy in local Korean companies, so many overseas Koreans are very interested and definitely well-qualified for this track as well. They are effectively bilingual in English and Korean, so they have an advantage over other applicants who only speak one language. So I cannot begin to stress the importance of Korean proficiency if you intend to work in Korea. Korean proficiency would also be an added bonus if you want to work in Korean multinationals as well, even if your aim is to be posted back to your home country.

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FAQ about Undergraduate Studies in Korea

Hello all! Hope everyone is having a good summer break!

As incoming freshmen for Fall 2014 are receiving acceptance letters and preparing to come to Korea, it signals the start of another cycle of applications for graduating high school seniors!

It’s been a little past 3 years since I’ve started this blog, and I’m approaching my final year of undergraduate studies in Korea. In the past 3 years, I’ve been asked many questions, and as the workload in college got heavier and heavier (as you might guess from my lack of posts), I have accumulated a great backlog of emails last semester (my busiest semester yet) which I guiltily cleared and replied a week or two before finals (Sorry to those of you who had to wait so long ><).

To make things a little more efficient, ie you being able to get information more quickly and not dependent on how busy I am, I’ve decided to compile a list of FAQ and will be setting that up in a new section on the blog! I will post again when I create the new section (:

In the meantime, one of my best friends in Korea who I got to know 3 years ago through this blog has created a youtube video on FAQ about undergraduate studies in Korea!

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