Yonsei University, 2019 Fall exchange (part 2)

Chapter 1. Host university

1.     Introduction

Yonsei University belongs to the SKY league, which is Korean slang for the top three universities in Korea – Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. Korean high schoolers work extremely hard to get into the SKY, and that means you will see yourself meeting and working with some of the top 1% students with the highest score in their college entrance exam. In short, studying at Yonsei and being a part of the Yonsei community is a privilege.

a.    Personal impression of the university and its students

The campus that you will be studying at is located in the heart of Seoul – Sinchon, where Sogang, Ehwa Woman University, and Hongik University are also nearby. That means you will see many students and young people go out during day and night time, up to the point that I felt like the city, or at least the area never sleeps. The Sinchon campus is so enormous that there is a shuttle bus running inside, and there is one running from and to another campus of Yonsei in Songdo, Incheon too. That being said, compared to our Woudestein Campus, I sometimes joked with my Korean friends that if they were having an exchange at Erasmus, they would laugh at how tiny it is. No offense, I still love Erasmus and RSM.

2.    Application process after nomination at RSM

The process is easy as you will find all the information needed in emails Yonsei and RSM send to you. There are no such things as ambiguous. The whole process is pretty straightforward.

If there is one advice I can give, I would advise you to pay careful attention to the deadlines. That is it.

3.    Accommodation

I stayed in the International House, one of the available dormitories for mainly KLI (Korean Language Institute students) and exchange students at Yonsei. That was the cheapest and finest option for accommodation I would say. There are individual rooms that are available in SK Global, but it is more on an expensive side, so I did not go for it. In I-House the room is shared between 2 people, and that means you will be staying there for 4 months with another person. Bathrooms and toilets are also shared with people on the same floor. You could expect that your personal privacy could be invaded to some extent and it could make you frustrated up to the point that you might want to change to another room or move completely out of the dorm if potential conflicts escalate. And you might not want that to happen because it is extremely troublesome to make changes with your current accommodation. Therefore, think thrice consider this option. My roommate is American from the University of California and she was the best roommate ever, fortunately. We got along really well. We also went out for dinner and shopping for some time.

There are also off-campus stay options that you can consider. They are mentioned in other exchange reports in previous years.

4.    Services and facilities for exchange students

Yonsei provided exchange students with great facilities and support. Anything you need to get help from you can always come to the International Office of Foreign Affairs.

Down in the Global Lounge, there is a variety of shops and cafes you can check them out. On-campus cafeterias sell good food at a cheap price. I did not regularly eat there but you should definitely check them out.

There is a bus running from one side of campus to another side, but you need to register for it. That one also has its separate daily schedule to run from the main campus in Sinchon to the international one in Songdo too. It should roughly take a little more than 1 hour so you can take advantage of it to explore the campus that most international and freshmen study there in their first year before relocating to Sinchon.

5.    Activities organized for exchange students

There are the buddy programs that are organized exclusively for exchange students when you are assigned into a small group with your fellow exchange students and there would be a full-time Korean student who would host you and your group. Sometimes you would have dinner together with them (mostly BBQ or chimaek) or go clubbing, and that was fun as I have heard from my roommate. I did not sign up for it because I think I have enough international friends and instead I wanted to befriend with Korean students more. Apart from that, there is Culture day which is organized by the club representing the international office. A couple of cultural events are occasionally held when there are official holidays in Korea.

Chapter 2. Courses

1.     Registration process

The registration went smoothly without any struggling, or at least to me. You need to register for at least 4 courses. When submitting the conversion proposal to the Dean, make sure that you have more than 4 options in mind so when the registration time comes you would have the flexibility to opt for the courses that you think attending them will also give you enough time to explore Seoul the city itself and Korea. Therefore, consider the time slots of the course carefully. With these 4 courses below I only needed to go to school 2 days a week. On Tuesday I would have Business Negotiation in the morning from 9 to 12, 15 to 18 would be for Practice in journalism. And on Friday I would have Introduction to Korean philosophy, and 13 to 16 would be for Introduction to Korean studies but we always finish it way before 16. On other days I would go with my friends to explore Seoul.

And don’t worry the process is clearly explained in the document package Yonsei sends to you. You just need to follow accordingly. And don’t be too stressed too much about the “first comes first serves” policy as to how they have in other universities as Yonsei has the mileage system which allows you to bid for courses using mileage. But I would advise you to not bid too late as it might close before you start bidding.

2.    Courses specifics

a.     COM3131-01 – Practices in Journalism

To be able to attend the course, you would need to compete with many full-time Korean students because it is a widely reputed course. I bid the highest number of points that I was allowed for this course and luckily got into. The course is taught by Stella Kim, an experienced and well-known news producer and currently working at NBC based in Seoul. She obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Political Science and Government at Yonsei University and has been working for international presses in and outside Korea for many years. We had had a group presentation almost every week until the last week before the mid-term exam, but don’t stress out because you would just have to read the chapters in the book and present on them. I have improved my presentation skills a lot thanks to this method of teaching, although it was quite boring at some point when multiple groups will be assigned the same chapter, and you will be listening to the same content over and over. After the mid-term which is a doable 100 True False questions, it has gotten more and more interesting because the professor invited some guest speakers to the class: a North Korean defector, a British BBC Correspondent, a Korean Reuters reporter, and an American CNN correspondent. For finals, you and your group will write a news story. Because it requires conducting real interviews with related people and the majority of them were conducted in Korean, it was quite inconveniently hard to really contribute to the project and the Korean students in your group will have to single-handedly deal with mostly everything. Overall, this course is my second favorite course after Business Negotiation. I have learned and improved a lot personally and academically.

b.    BIZ4189-01 – Business Negotiation

This is my most favorite course at Yonsei without a doubt. The course is famous to Yonsei business students, therefore I also needed to bid my highest points, and again luckily got into. The course is taught by a professor who used to be a full-time visiting professor and taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School, and the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business. This is his last year at Yonsei and he insisted on teaching undergraduate students as normally he only teaches graduate levels and conducting negotiation workshops for big companies’ executives. We, fortunately, had that honor to be his last students at Yonsei. We had a 3-hour class every week. The manual will be provided at the beginning of the course. The main concept of the course is practicing and acquiring practical negotiation skills. Therefore, 2/3 through the course what we did every week was prepping and having group negotiations in 2.5 hours, the last 0.5 hours were for debriefing. That was such a fun, enjoyable, intense and knowledgeable experience. I had to write up a case which is equivalent to a mid-term exam, and that was doable. For finals, we had a group presentation and a formal written exam of which are also both doable.

c.     IEE3116-01 – Introduction to Korean Philosophy

Don’t hate me because I did not enjoy this course as I did in the other above 2 so I won’t write much. The course, in general, is interesting as you will learn about the rooting and long-lived philosophy in Korea and in the East that is so much different than in the West. You would have a small group presentation on the book content, and 2 essays for mid and end-term. Those were all doable.

d.    IEE3103-01 – Introduction to Korean studies

This is also an interesting course as it is mostly about learning Korean history and literature. The professor is an American who has been living in Korea for a good amount of time so that you would be able to learn and enhance your knowledge about Korea through an outside perspective. He is a considerate man who knows that we never want to be sitting in a class for straight 3 hours to study dry history, and that’s why classes are always over 30 minutes to 1 hour before the official time. The course is pretty engaging too as after 45 minutes to 1 hour listening to him talking, he would let us discuss within a group of 3 and ask questions. There are 2 exams which are both ask open-ended questions. You would finish it in less than 20 minutes so don’t worry.

Featured image: Yonsei University, sometime in November 2019. Taken by iPhone 7, touched by Instasize.

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