Hello! I’ve been running this blog for about 4 years now and over the years I’ve received many similar questions from people, and so I decided to compile a list of them here! Moreover I tend to be really busy and take quite some time to reply, so I hope this page can help you with whatever questions you have 🙂
1) What is the apostille?
The apostille (a special kind of letter and stamp) is the shortest process of legalization. An apostille can be used if both countries (the country issuing the document and the country in which the document will be used) are part of the international ‘The Hague Apostille Convention’. Republic of Korea is a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. (From UIC website)
For countries not under the Apostille agreement (such as Singapore), a consular confirmation is required. In my case, I got the copies certified as true copies at my high school before going to the notary office, then the embassy did the consular confirmation.
For more information you can refer to my post on Application here.
2) What do I submit if they ask for high school transcript?
The high school transcript is a record of all the grades you received in high school. In the Singaporean case, I submitted copies of my JC block test transcripts, and my IP transcript (the one I got in Sec 4), or O level transcript.
1) What Korean proficiency do I need to study in a program conducted in Korean?
Generally most universities would require a TOPIK Level 4 at least, but I would highly recommend either completing language institute or getting a level 5 or 6, which can usually be obtained in about 1~1.5 years. I discussed more about Korean proficiency levels in a post here.
2) What Korean proficiency do I need to work in Korea?
If you are not hired on expat terms, you would most likely require almost native level of Korean fluency. This is especially if you graduated from local Korean university and is accepted in the local track for employment. Korea has a very strict hierarchy in the workplace too, and so you should be prepared to speak Korean well enough to handle professional work and maintain good relations with your clients and colleagues. You can read more about Korean language proficiency and career prospects in my post here.
1) Why did you choose to study in Korea/UIC?
I first got to know about UIC when one of the UIC professors came to my high school to give a recruitment talk. I googled about UIC and at that time there was even lesser information about UIC or Korean universities in general. But after talking to the professor and learning about UIC’s pedagogy and that intimate classroom setting, I knew that that was the style of education I wanted. Maybe Korean universities are not that well-known in Singapore, but I believed that this liberal arts mode of education is the way to go so I took the chance to come. I was also interested in Northeast Asia and having learnt Japanese, I thought that it’d be good to pick up some Korean too, as well as stay in the region to understand more about issues in the region as well as the societies there.
2) What is the minimum grade to enter UIC?
UIC does not publish information such as minimum or average grades, but for good reason. Firstly the applications will be graded based on document review round (200 points) and interview (100 points), so grades are actually just one part of the document review round. Moreover, students come from so many diverse countries that use various exams, so it is not very meaningful to indicate an average.
3) Do I need standardized test scores?
Standardized test scores are not mandatory. They would look at SAT and TOEFL but only as a gauge or a form of standardized exam to sort of rank applicants across different education systems.
4) Do I need SAT if I already have A levels?
For Singaporeans, it is not mandatory to have SAT scores since our national exam is the A Levels. However, if you have favorable SAT scores, you should definitely put them in to add points.
The full-tuition scholarship will be awarded based on the points that your score in your application evaluation, the 200 points from document review and 100 points from interview.
Dorms in Sinchon are between 800,000 won~1.6 million won per semester, and the dorms in YIC are cheaper at 800,000 won per semester. More information on housing here: http://uic.yonsei.ac.kr/students/current_housing.asp
7) What was your experience like in UIC?
I don’t know how to put my experience in words concisely cos there’s just so much to say, but really I would have regretted it if I never came and just went to a local university in Singapore. I probably would have just stuck to my own group of Singaporean friends and never bother to reach out to students from other countries. Here I met friends from so many different parts of the world and in class I hear from so many different perspectives, it really broadens my world view. I learnt not just about Korea, but also about other countries that my friends are from. Plus I was almost forced to “grow up,” become independent, stronger and deal with my own problems and take responsibility for myself. These are actually important problem-solving skills that will be useful in future no matter where you go. Actually now as I think back of how I just decided to come to Korea without knowing a single person, and knowing that Korea is really not a very common destination for Singaporean students (or working adults), I cannot believe how I managed to make that decision. But this experience has been so precious and valuable that I really hope for more students to experience it for themselves too, which was why I hope I could help them in any way I can through the blog, and having them know that they have someone here for them already if they make the decision to come.
In terms of academics, I think it really depends on the school you enter and the major you choose. For example, UIC is every bit competitive and rigorous as an English-medium liberal arts college and I’m constantly challenged to think more, ask more, learn more. If you enter majors taught in Korean it’s probably more of a challenge because you’d also have to overcome the language problem. But that being said, a lot of Koreans somehow manage to balance their study life and their play life anyway, I think they are really typical of the work hard play hard saying. So I think you can definitely “have a life” outside of studying too, just like me and my many other friends 🙂
Upon Arrival in Korea
1) How do I get my phone?
You can refer to my post here for details about getting mobile phone in Korea.
2) How do I get my ARC?
You can refer to my post here for the process of obtaining my ARC.
It is true that since Korea is internationalizing, they need more employees who can speak English fluently. However Korean is still the basic requirement, so do take note to learn Korean well if you plan to work for Korean companies. Once the Korean barrier is overcome, depending on which country you are from you will have other language advantages too.
UIC is part of Yonsei University, and Yonsei is one of the big 3 universities in Korea. You will be seen as top of the top in Korea, especially for companies looking for English-speaking employees (which is many of them), they will prioritize UIC graduates. You will really have many opportunities in Korea, as long as you get your Korean to native level.
As for within Singapore, I’m not sure about local companies but Korean companies located in Singapore are actively looking for students who graduated from Korean universities because we understand the Korean culture and speak Korean and English (plus Chinese) fluently, and they don’t have to pay for our housing etc which they have to do if they bring their Korean employee over to Singapore.
Korea is not a common destination for Singaporeans, but more and more students are going to Korea for tertiary education. Korea might have a reputation of having too many universities and “anyone” can enter university, so it is important that you choose only the top universities in Korea to go to, so that employers can still understand the value of your degree. I’d like to think of this as the difficulties that come with going on an unconventional path, but I think the things I’ve gained so far makes it all worth.
For more thoughts on career prospects with a Korean degree you can refer to my post here.
1) What are the living expenses like in Korea?
I spend about 800,000 won a month including my rent as an estimate. Transportation is quite cheap (about W1000~W2000 per trip if you’re not travelling too far), and food as well (though it depends on what you have, the cheaper alternatives are about W4000 but there are those that can be W8000).
2) Tuition fees in Korea
Korea has both public university and private university. Universities like SNU are public universities and so tuition fees are a lot lower as compared to private universities like Yonsei and Korea University. Also if you attend the international divisions/college/faculty of the university, the fees are usually higher compared to the other faculties. So for instance, Underwood International College in Yonsei costs close to USD8000 per semester, and it’s the most expensive faculty in Yonsei (excluding Medicine).