As an exchange student, moving to a new country can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Everything is new, from the culture to the language, and it can take some time to adjust. However, I did find some similarities between UoA and SKKU, which gave me a little comfort and ease for adjusting and settling in.
New to Seoul
The first thing I had to do was adjust to my new living situation. I had to find my way around a new city, learn how to use public transportation, find my lecture rooms etc., and if you ask me about the biggest help we can get when we do all of these, I’d like to nominate the flatmates/roommates for the best helpers.
For the first couple of days after my arrival, I probably asked my flatmates twenty questions a day (a bit annoying I know), but please don’t feel embarrassed! One of my flatmates told me when she first got here, there was also a nice senior that helped her to live comfortably in Seoul, so this is a generation-to-generation tradition, and I’m sure most people would love to help because everyone has been there! Therefore, I was basically a “shadow” of my flatmates – I would follow them to the grocery store, convenience store, supermarket, bakery, metro, campus, and so on where they taught me the basic Korean conversation to use in these scenarios, how to deal with different situations, and told me the shortcuts in the campus for going to lectures.
Nevertheless, if your flatmates/roommates are also new to the country like you, don’t worry! It is always a great experience to explore the city with some new friends who carry the same curiosity as you, which is what I exactly did when I first went to New Zealand as an international student. I will never forget the sense of achievement when my friend and I figured something out on our own, and it is also less anxious to have someone by your side when you encounter some problems.
Feels like “home”
Adjusting to a new academic environment can be both exciting and challenging, and SKKU is such a vibrant university where the history (since 1398!) and architecture are incredibly rich.
I spent time walking around the campus, checking out the libraries, cafes, and sports facilities, and the first thing I experienced was – “I’m so tired!”. The whole campus is located on a small hill and as I walked along the steep roads, I suddenly had an illusion – “Am I walking on the Liverpool St/Wakefield St/East Wellesley St or am I in SKKU???”
Another thing I found familiar with UoA is the learning system SKKU use which is called LearningX. When I first opened it, I was like “OK I’ll still call it Canvas.” The distribution is exactly the same as Canvas such as the “Modules”, “Announcements”, “Discussions” etc. Therefore, it makes it a lot easier for me to access, organise the learning materials, and make study plans accordingly because it could be stressful or anxious if I miss out on some information from the professors.
In conclusion, my first two weeks as an exchange student in Seoul were a mix of excitement, adjustment, and exploration. I had to adapt to a new environment, but I found that the experience was incredibly rewarding. I would encourage anyone considering studying here at SKKU to take the leap and embrace the new experiences that come with it.