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Junho Jang

SFU Student Undergraduate
Arts + Social Sciences › Criminology | Arts + Social Sciences › International Studies
Study Abroad › Exchange

The challenges and achievements that I encountered during the exchange made me more resilient and prepared for the next chapter of my life. I am confident that this experience will assist me to successfully complete my degree at SFU.
Experience Details
Introduction + Preparation

Once you receive a confirmation/ conditional acceptance from the host university, you should immediately start preparing. This includes planning a travel itinerary, researching course options, dorm applications/ finding a residence near the campus, researching the social/cultural expectations of the host country, and setting up a budget plan.

Location Research

Academic Preparation

I am fluent in Korean, so I ended up taking two courses conducted in Korean. However, if you are not fluent in the local language, you should research your course options early on to prevent the situation of being on a waitlist. As well, review the course syllabus or the outline that is provided when you create your schedule. In any situation you are unsure about the host institution’s academic expectations, always reach out and communicate with the appropriate staff from both the host and home institutions.

When you arrive in the host country, try to apply for a campus tour. Usually, they are hosted before the semester begins, so you should be able to familiarize yourself with the campus and lecture locations.

Financial Preparation

When you set up your budget, try to overestimate your numbers in case there may be unexpected expenditures during your exchange. You can save money by eating on campus. If you tap your student ID, you will be given a discount when you eat on campus (only applies to university-managed restaurants, so make sure you check before visiting). For example, the student center (building #63) provides 1000-Won breakfasts (approximately $1 Canadian).

I purchased my SIM card through HIreVisa+. At the time of my purchase, it was 38,000-Won for a SIM card with unlimited call/text and data. There are also other telecom companies like LG U+, KT, and SKT. Each company will have a seasonal discount or a deal package, so make sure you compare before deciding.

When you start your semester, you will receive multiple emails about opportunities. While the conditions of your Visa may differ depending on your status, there are opportunities where you can receive some financial reimbursements for participating in research. As well, certain internship opportunities accept exchange students. 


In terms of packing, I would recommend packing less clothing as the climate and temperature are quite different compared to BC, and you can purchase the appropriate clothing on arrival. As well, when you are about to return you will realize that you have too many things (e.g., souvenirs, clothing, etc.) to bring back. Therefore, I would personally pack less items, especially clothing. I would start packing at least a week before your departure and have a list to ensure you do not miss anything. I took the Korean Airlines for both flights, so I was able to take two checked-in bags, one carry-on bag, and one backpack. Make sure you pack the important things (e.g., passport, Visa document, medication, etc.) in your carry-on bag.

Travel and Transportation

Once you receive a conditional offer, you should research your flight options. If you select a more affordable flight option, they may have a no-return policy. Therefore, use your discretion when deciding which travel agency or flight company you will choose. If you purchase your tickets earlier, it will be cheaper than buying the tickets last minute.

Applying for the visa is also a process that will take some time. I had to visit the Korean consulate in Vancouver several times to complete the visa application process. This process involves several steps and various documents, so you must start as soon as possible. From my experience, I was requested to prove my entry and exit dates by providing the flight itinerary. Therefore, it is essential that you have flight plans completed before applying for your visa.

If you do not live on campus, you will need to take public transit. The bus and metro are 1400-Won (approximately $1.40). Although it seems cheap, it will represent a good portion of your budget once it accumulates. Therefore, I would recommend taking the SNU shuttle bus (free, no cost) from the Seoul National University Entrance station. Taking a taxi will be more expensive, and the basic price will increase during the evening. It is always a good idea to share a ride with friends and split the costs.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

Before the first week of class, you will be invited to attend an orientation on campus. My orientation was conducted in English and Korean. This orientation will provide you with basic knowledge including important locations and contacts. For the first two to three weeks, students are still deciding on their schedule. Therefore, the course load was not too heavy. 

Accommodation and Living

Dorm Application/Finding a Residence

Dorm applications are complicated and very demanding. For instance, the host institution may ask for a criminal record check, medical checks, and other various documents to support your credibility. This process can take a while, especially if there are any delays with obtaining your documents. Therefore, I would suggest starting the dorm applications early on. You will also get an option to apply to different buildings (e.g., global building) and room sizes (2 or 3 people). I highly recommend that you select the “any” option, because the dorm applications are very competitive, and this will give you a better chance of getting admitted.

For myself, I was placed on a waitlist. Therefore, I had to research other options as a backup. I did my research on a Korean internet platform called “Naver” to search for options near the campus. Another option is to reach out to other exchange students and use platforms like Airbnb.

Researching Social/ Cultural Expectations
Before you depart, try to research your host country and its general social/ cultural expectations. When we are in the host country, we are representing SFU and the host university. Therefore, it is vital that we understand and respect the local culture and laws. For instance, there are certain etiquette when you are in public space (e.g., public transportation). Also, be mindful that what is socially acceptable here in Canada might not be in the host country.

Learning and Adaptation

The class format resembles those at SFU. Most lectures are 2~3 hours long with a short break in-between. Smaller classes will have more student-instructor engagement, whereas larger classes will be more oriented towards lecture slides. The only difference that I noticed was the absence of tutorials. Since there are no tutorials, attendance and participation during class will have a greater impact on your final grade.

Accomplishments and Challenges

When you are on exchange, how much you engage at your host institution will influence your overall experience. I participated in two opportunities, which made my exchange experience more phenomenal. I had the chance to participate in SNU’s Diversity Council Internship program. As an intern, I attended various seminars and events relating to diversity. As well, we worked on group projects with the objective of “breaking down the barriers” at SNU. Our first project was a free hug event, which we hosted on campus to enhance students’ feelings of belongingness. By hosting this event, we were able to meet many students with diverse backgrounds and hear why they needed a hug (e.g., stressed about midterm exams, homesickness, etc.). In addition to this, we welcomed students to create their own “Sha-ram” (their SNU character) to display their intersectionality. We also had a chance to attend a seminar at the Siheung campus and experience some local activities (e.g., museums, mudflat experience, Jebu marine cable car, etc.). At the end of the semester,  I received a certificate of completion and it compensated the effort that our team made to improve the diversity on campus.

Social and Extracurricular Activities

I also got involved with some opportunities that SISA (SNU International Student Association) offered. For example, I signed up for a Language and Culture Exchange (LCE) program. This program created teams consisting of international and domestic students. Each team would communicate using a language that they wanted to improve on or learn. Then, we were given missions (e.g., visiting tourist attractions, visiting teammate’s department, attending the campus events together, going to karaoke, etc.) to complete. At the end, a semester-end party was hosted for those teams that completed the missions on time. Overall, I was able to make new friends and memories by participating in the Diversity Internship program, and SISA’s programs.

Reflection & Tips

Overall, this exchange opportunity has been one of the most memorable events in my life. There were challenges such as adapting to the cultural differences and academic stress. However, the positive experiences outweighed it. Overcoming those challenges allowed me to become more resilient and confident. Before going on this exchange, my daily pattern was going to school and coming straight back home. However, after this exchange trip, I recognized the importance of socializing with peers and acquaintances outside of school time and class. This allowed me to expand my network and improve my school-life balance. I am confident to say that this balance allowed me to take care of my well-being and led me to achieve academic success.

Most Valuable Aspects of This Experience

The most valuable experience from this trip is that I made new friends that I can keep in touch with. It was a privilege to meet so many great people who have taught me so much and inspired me. We still keep in touch through social media, and hope to see each other in person again. 

Advice for Future Students

My overall tip for other students is to always have an open mind and not hesitate to try out new things. If you can demonstrate that you are motivated and keen for new experiences, the opportunities will automatically come to you. Studying abroad can be scary and intimidating, but do not let it prevent you from taking on new challenges.