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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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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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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Connecting with Singaporeans in Korea and New Classmates

I feel quite stupid for not saying this earlier (it’s been what, 3 years since my first post on this blog? Unbelievable), but for all of you Singaporeans who are coming to Korea for long-term and wish to get in touch with the Singaporean community, here are some things you might want to register for. (Same goes for those of you who are not Singaporeans, you can do so with your own country representatives!)

1) Join the Singapore Club Seoul (SCS)!

Currently there’s a Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/singaporeclubseoul/ which you can request to join.

You can also email them directly at singaporeclubinseoul@gmail.com

You can join even if you’re not located in Seoul too! We’re a small but tight-knitted community here I would say, and it does feel a lot more cosy and less “formal” than some other Singapore clubs in other countries that I’ve been to. The staff at our embassy here in Seoul are really kind and fun-loving too, and our ambassador is very friendly and approachable. We join events such as the Seoul Friendship Fair every year, mostly with food booth selling delicious Singaporean food that Singaporeans in Seoul all miss dearly! There are also various events organized by SCS such as potluck bbq and probably the biggest event in the year, the National Day celebrations where it’s another chance to feast on Singaporean food 😀 Do join and keep in touch with the Singaporean community here! There are just times when you need someone to speak in Singlish to and crack jokes that only Singaporeans can relate to, so it’s always good to keep in touch with other Singaporeans in Korea!

2) Register yourself with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Clearing the Immense Backlog

In a bid to procrastinate when you have a mountain of work to complete (I’m sure many of you have had the same experience), I took the excuse to come back to the blog!

First off, I am so sorry to everyone who has emailed or commented, because I took an impossibly long amount of time to reply you guys. There are some emails even from March which I have yet to reply (Please forgive me!! ㅠㅠ) I have to say that the exchange to Japan last fall semester did allow me to relax a little, but it also made it a little more difficult to get back on track to the academic rigor in UIC… I am now replying the emails and comments so please wait a little more!

On another note, it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve started my life in Korea and in UIC, and I just have about 1 more year left. There are so many things that I would like to share with all of you before I leave, but senior year will probably be crazier than it already is for me now ): I will still try my best to update more often though.

What I have no time to say in words, I shall leave in photos. Spring came really early to Korea this year, temperatures were so warm that the cherry blossoms bloomed exceptionally early this year! (Usually they bloom towards the end of April, this year they were in full bloom in early April!) I took a trip down to Busan and Gyeongju as well since my sister visited, as well as some interesting places in the vicinity of Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon-do (the two provinces really close to Seoul). I hope that these photos will give you a better idea of how life in Korea can be! 😀

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Yonsei University

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 (:

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