Easy as 1, 2, 3…
Small update: I’m back in my favorite cafe, the sun is shining and I’ve got a cup of (hot) coffee. After almost a month I’ve finally figured out how to use the toilets here (there’s touchpads and codes involved, don’t judge me).
If you’ve decided to study at Seoul National University, this post is for you! I’m going to try to give you all of the information you need to make your application process and arrival a smooth sailing. First tip for any exchange student: accept all the help you can get! Some of the information will be specific to Maastricht University students, but most of the practical information can be useful for anyone traveling to Korea.
About Seoul National University
Maastricht University has three partner universities in Korea: Seoul National University (SNU), Yonsei University and Korea University. I personally knew I wanted to study in Korea, so I had no preference for a university. I ended up putting SNU as my number one choice because it is known to be the best university in Korea.
Vey reliable source.
For a regular student it’s incredibly difficult to get into SNU—only the top 1% students in the country are accepted. Exchange students are luckier, since we add to the inernational diversity and a lot of things are arranged through our universities. The grade admission requirement is a GPA of 6.
If you’re trying to decide whether to go in the fall or spring semester, the fall semester has about double the number of exchange students (600 vs. 300) and a lot more English courses available. However, the weather is absolutely amazing in spring, and you’ll (hopefully) have wrapped up all your business for your bachelors in Maastricht. Ultimately, it’s personal preference. I wanted to enjoy exchange without having to worry about things back home. For me, classes back in Maastricht finished in December, and since classes didn’t start here until March I had plenty of time to finish my Capstone (probably called bachelor thesis for you) and travel around beforehand (very convenient if you have a special someone to visit who’s on exchange as well🙂🙂🙂 ). Some of my friends even had time for an internship!
If I had to describe the application procedure in one word, it would be frustrating. It wasn’t difficult per say, but it took a long time. Whereas the spring semester is the second half of the school year for me, the school year starts in the spring for Korea so you’re mostly contacting people during their “summer holidays”. The time difference and language barrier in Korea made things a bit more challenging as well.
May 27, 2015– Announcement of allocation (“Yay I’m going to Korea!”
September 9, 2015 – First email received from SNU. This email contained a list of all the documents you had to hand in to IRO (deadline: October 2, 2015) who would send it to SNU (deadline: October 20, 2015)
- Statement of purpose (A brief motivation letter about why you want to study in Korea and SNU in particular)
- Two letters of recommendation (tutors are usually willing to do it, but make sure to contact as many as possible as soon as possible. They are very busy people!)
- Certificate of enrollment (You can get this at Student Service Center)
- Copy of passport
- Two photographs (3×4)
December 18, 2015 – Acceptance package arrived
- Once you have received the acceptance package, you can apply for a visa. My acceptance package didn’t include the “Certificate of Business Registration”, I contacted SNU and they emailed it to me.
- The D-2 student visa is single entry—don’t panic, once you are in Korea you get the alien registration card which you need if you want to stay in the country for longer than 90 days. The university will give you tons of information about how to apply for it when you arrive.
January 22, 25&26, 2016 —Course pre-registration
January 28&29 and February 1, 2&3, 2016 – Course registration
- The course registration seems quite stressful at first. However, if you figure out which courses you want and how to work the website beforehand, it’s pretty easy to do. During the pre-registration you can make a list of the courses you want, so during the actual registration period you can easily find the courses you want to enroll in. If you do not get the courses you need, don’t worry! The first week of classes is for dropping and registering for courses as well. In that week, you can try registering for the courses online anyway or go to the class and ask the professor for a signature. I was only able to register for 3/5 courses during the online registration period, but managed to get all the courses once I got here.
- 1 SNU credit equals 2 UM credits. Most courses are worth 3 SNU credits/6 UM credits. This means that in order to get the required 26 credits back at home I needed 5 courses (equal to 15 SNU credits/30 UM credits.). I had to take 3rd and 4th year courses, and one course was allowed to be non-business related. Make sure to check the credit-requirements, they may have changed!
First week of February – Application for on-campus housing (dormitory)
- On-campus housing is convenient for exchange students. It’s cheap, there are cheap cafeteries and there are a lot of other exchange students. However, you have shared facilities and it’s a bit isolated from the rest of the city.
There are advantages and disadvantages to living in the dorms. In my opinion the application date as well as the announcement of results (mid-Feb) were very late. Since they couldn’t guarantee me a spot I was more comfortable with hunting for a place myself. I had heard it was quite difficult for foreign students to find something, but I had a lot of help and ended up finding a great place.
My room is close to exit 1 and 2 at Seoul National University station, about 1.4 km away from the SNU main gate on campus. This area is the most popular alternative to the dorms, and quite a few exchange students live here. Mt room felt a bit barren at first, but after a week I was fully settled in and now I absolutely love it. I have my own fridge and bathroom with shower. There is a common kitchen (with an endless supply of free, cooked rice, kimchi, noodles and coffee) and a washing machine on the roof (not as terrifying as it sounds). I like to walk to university (it takes me about 20 minutes, up the mountain!), but there are busses and free shuttle busses in the area that go to campus. My favorite thing about my place is the location. SNU station is famous for its cheap restaurants and bars. Meetups usually happen around this area. I like being on time, so if I’m meeting people at 19:00, I leave my place at 18:58. The clubbing areas are easily accessible by subway (SNU station is on the green subway line, which is the main line) and later in the night you can take a taxi, which is a lot cheaper compared to Europe (especially if you share the fee). Another big plus: my landlord is a sweetheart.
My room: bed, desk, window, fridge, wardrobe, floor heating & ac unit, private bathroom with a toilet and shower.
If you decide to look for something yourself:
- Contacts: Michelle from IRO, ziptoss, goshipages
- Location: SNU Station or Nokdu. Naksongdae is a possibility as well, but the other two are probably better.
February 6 – February 22, 2016 – Application for the SNU Buddy program
- Highly recommended!! The buddies are very active and it’s the best way to meet new people (exchange students as well as local students)
February 26, 2016 – First orientation
March 2, 2016 – Official start of the semester
After that: FUN!!!!
Of course, dates vary per semester, but this is to give you a picture of when to expect what. This is it for now! Hope it’s helpful, and if you have any questions feel free to contact me. Next post will include post-arrival information!