In Seoul, Korea – Ngoc Phan – Spring Exchange Sem of AY 2020-2021

In Seoul, Korea – Ngoc Phan – Spring Exchange Sem of AY 2020-2021

Hello, I’m Phan Le My Ngoc, 3rd year student majored in Finance and Banking at International University – VNU-HCM. I just finished the student exchange program at Konkuk university, Seoul campus. I would like to share what I have learned after 6 months of studying, experiencing and living in Korea, hoping the information will be useful for those who are planning for an exchange program like me!

  1. What should be prepared for the exchange in Korea?
  • 1st, make sure you understand the exchange terms and conditions as well as the school and the area you want to go to, especially whether the school has the field of your major. I have been reading and following this fan page carefully since I decided to do my exchange here.
  • 2nd, is applying for a visa a big barrier? Applying for a visa is very important and it takes a lot of time, which is the most difficult process that I went through because I applied in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the visa issuance was quite complicated but that was okay as I was also a first-timer to Korea and it was also my first time going abroad but I still made it to Korea. After receiving a nomination from IU, Konkuk would also email the necessary documents for you to apply for the visa (at this time, it is really important to check your mailbox every day). Please follow the website to receive visa here I went in the middle of the pandemic, so before applying for a visa, I had to go through a medical examination for COVID symptoms to accompany the visa application. I did not know about this, so even though I prepared all the documents in advanced, when I came to apply, initially I was refused. To solve this, I had to go through a medical examination at hospitals they designated (you’d better call the hotline 028-7101-1212 to enquire further information about all the necessary documents). That will save you from wasting your time.
  • 3nd, because I choose to stay in the dorm, I have to transfer money before going to the KUL: house (Konkuk dormitory). For this payment, you need to prepare for the followings: air ticket, visa, confirmation letter guaranteeing that you are an exchange student at Konkuk (attached in the file Konkuk sent to apply for a visa). Finally, go to Shinhan bank and follow their instructions.

In addition, there are some notes before your flight such as taking the PCR test, preparing documents to fill in on the plane or some other information you may follow on YouTube about the journey to Korea in the middle of the epidemic season to avoid surprise. To be fully updated, you should watch these videos just before the time of your flight!

  1. How was I quarantined in Korea?

I chose to quarantine at a rent Airbnb room instead of at the dorm. I initially chose to be quarantined at the dorm because I did not know the language and were not familiar with the place, this would be more convenient for me, but after serious consideration, I chose to be quarantined at Airbnb for the following reasons:

  1. Cost: Quarantine at the dorm would cost 18.5 million VND and the quarantine at the Airbnb 10 million (This is the link to the Airbnb where I quarantine – it took me quite a while to find this place because only this place met the requirements for self-quarantine such as having separate washing machine, bathroom and kitchen, reasonable price and self-quarantine was allowed because I had messaged many places but they did not accept self-quarantine)
  2. Space: Quarantine at the dorm would be safer, without having to worry about meals and medical checks. Yet, I’m a person who likes to try new things, so I chose Airbnb and I checked myself with a medical kit box (on the plane they will give you a paper, and you need to fill in the address of the quarantine they will send it to you). I was fortunate to book an isolated place with a very friendly and helpful Airbnb host. The host was afraid that I would have nothing to eat for the first few days, so she bought bread, eggs, milk and left them in front of the door for me. In addition, as I came to Korea during the Lunar New Year, the hostess also cooked mandu (a Korean traditional food on New Year’s Eve) for me and called me out (She was super cute). In addition, Konkuk also sent some information about the popular food ordering app in Korea; thanks to this, a few days later, I could order vegetables from the coupang.
  3. School life and relationship
  • As I was the only Vietnamese in this exchange program, I thought it would be bored and I was a bit scared at first but it turned out to be okay as Konkuk had an ISV (International student volunteer) contact me before I went to Korea. That person reminded me of the necessary information during the semester. In addition, Konkuk would also create a Kakaotalk group for exchange students so that everyone can get to know each other, and I got a chance to get acquainted with these super lovely friends during the exchange (surprisingly there were 5 Vietnamese ascendants from France, Finland and Germany). So don’t worry about being alone. Unexpected things will always come, just give yourself a chance to experience no matter what the situation may be. If you don’t try, you won’t know.
  • Because of the pandemic, when I came to Korea, I had to study and takethe exam online. The question is, was it boring? At first, I was a bit disappointed when I received the news that instead of studying 50% online, 50% on-campus, Konkuk emailed me that I would studied online in the spring semester, but during the process of studying and working in groups, I felt I feel this was a good opportunity for me to experience online learning in Korea as well as online teamwork.
  1. What should be considered before the departure?
  • The pandemic affected the trip a lot, although there were new and interesting experiences. However, you should be able to take care of yourself when considering the exchange.
  • The language barrier was quite a big problem. I recommend that you should at least know how to read the Korean alphabet.
  • Everywhere, there are good people and bad people, even in Vietnam. Although making many new friends, expanding relationships is a good thing. You should also update yourself with news about evils in Korea and how to deal with it so that no matter what the situation is, you will always be well prepared!
  1. What did I learn from this exchange?
  • The first thing I learn is the language. Because there were not too many opportunities to communicate in the mother tongue, using English as well as Korean helped me practice the language quite well.
  • This was a big turning point in my university life.Since this is the first time I can study and live in another country, it is such a good experience as well as a good background for my future orientations.
  • I feel that the exchange was like a preparation for the future trips abroad. After this, I feel that I become more mature and ready to face difficulties alone. Moreover, this helps me accumulate my life and study experience.

During the process of studying and living in Korea, I have saved a lot of pictures, nice places to eat and hang out as well as  memorable memories on my Instagram @Unidecapoda, so stay tuned for more. Also, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to inbox me at any time!


I hope this article will be useful and may inspire those who intend to go on such exchange programs!