Past Exchange Students’ Testimonials

My semester at Chung-Ang University, South Korea:

To be honest, before coming to Korea, I was a little bit afraid because it is on the other side of the Earth. So, it is obvious that I expected a different culture, language, and tradition. It is true that Korea is totally different from what I am used to, but I think it is different in a good way.

Let me explain from the beginning.

A ten hour flight is no joke and since it was my first time being on a plane for such a long time, it was very exhausting. When I landed at Incheon airport, I just wanted a place to sleep, right away. But what really made my day were the GLAMs who took care of the exchange students very well. It was very pleasant to see smiley faces and it really gave me the energy that I needed.

Of course, the first few days in Korea were a little bit hectic; I definitely know that I am not the only one who suffered from jet lag and also cultural shock. I can say for sure that, thanks to good organizational skills of the university, we exchange students survived our starting days very well.

Before I came to Korea, I promised myself that I would participate in many activities and take every opportunity open to me. I am not sure if I fulfilled this promise one hundred percent, but I tried really hard and now as I near the end, I am very satisfied with everything I did here.

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Dragon Pond

I should mention education because I considered it as the most important aspect, right after cultural experiences. The education system here in Korea is totally different from what I have in my country. In Korea, I liked how we have two exam periods and not only one, because it divided our learning material into two parts and it wasn’t that hard to study them. I had some classes with Korean students and some with only international students. It is true that I could feel a slight difference between these classes, but I really can’t consider which one I liked better.

There were presentations, which I enjoyed because I like working in a team. Also in one class, the teacher divided us into groups and thanks to that I got to meet many friends, not only international but also Korean; this is actually when started my participation in the mentoring program.

In one of my classes, I met really nice girl and we decided to go for the mentoring program that was organized by the department of Business Administration. To be honest, at first, I didn’t think that we would have such a strong friendship; but we spent a lot of time together, as we studied together and she showed me many interesting places here in Seoul. I will never regret that I applied for this program and to who ever is in Business Administration, don’t hesitate and go for this experience in Korea.

If your major is different, don’t be sad, because here is also another program organized by the dormitory where you can participate. Since I promised myself to take every opportunity… yes, I applied for this one too; I don’t regret it at all. You will meet new people who can turn into your good friends while you spend some quality time with them.

It sounds like a pretty busy semester, right? It is necessary to study for school a little bit, work on presentations with other people and in my case, also participate in these two programs. But this is not the end of my experience.

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I am in Hanbok at the Gyeongbokgung Palace

The International Office prepared really nice excursions for exchange students throughout the semester. I was so surprised that something like this exists here. If you apply for the trip, you will be able to discover some new places or experience great events and on top of that you don’t have to pay anything!

I enjoyed these trips a lot but the strongest impression for me was the second event. I have never been to stadium before and I have never watched any kind of sports event before. I will never forget how the atmosphere was at the baseball stadium and how I felt when I was cheering with other people, even though I didn’t know about the game’s rules and about the teams that were playing. But I didn’t care, I was just happy I could experience something like this.

And now, it is the end, I am writing this article and remembering all these good things I experienced here. I feel tears in my eyes but I know it is time to go home. I enjoyed my stay here. Of course I had also bad days but it happens when you are abroad, so far from your family, friends and place which you know very well.

Not every day is a feast but it is ok.

Let’s just concentrate on the good things and happy memories because it is actually what you and I will want to remember forever.


Andrea Bartonova, VSB-Technical University of Ostrava, Spring 2017

In a short period of time, we can experience so many things in our lives that can change us, and help us to become someone wiser, and closer to the adult we aspire to be. This exchange program was an incredible opportunity, because at the end we up grown up, thanks to the things we experienced and we become humanly richer.

We all started as a lost foreigner in a country different from our own. I admit I was quite nervous at some points because I didn’t know what to expect from Korea. But, it turned out pretty well and I feel so lucky and thankful to everybody that made this exchange the most beautiful period of my life. I feel that I learned a lot about a new population, a new society with its qualities and its flaws, and a whole new culture with its own codes. Of course I experienced some awkward situations because of cultural differences, like being ignored when I try to talk to strangers or receiving some weird glances because I might have done something socially unacceptable, but if there is one thing I will always remember, it is how kind, caring and welcoming the Koreans I met were. They did their very best to try to make us feel welcome, they put so much effort into trying to help us to enjoy our time in Korea. Because of it, now that I have left Korea, I miss it like home. And by that statement, the university staff is a huge part of those people. We learn a lot about ourselves, about how to go out of our comfort zones and be open to something new. It is challenging, and motivates us to do more. I look forward to what comes next.

Chung-Ang University’s campus is close to Seoul’s center, and next to the Han River. Located at the top of a hill, the campus offers a wonderful view of the capital. I had the chance to live in the dormitory within the campus and to enjoy the quality of its facilities. Everything is made so conveniently that it feels surreal. There are also activity clubs to join and events to attend to fully enjoy university life; it is a great opportunity to meet people and local students.  Every night, I used to watch Namsan tower until it get turned off at midnight, not because I’m a romantic, but because it reminded me that I need to go back to my room before the curfew. The university district is a quiet and peaceful area, yet there are many spots to hang out, like bars, restaurants, and parks near the river. There will always be something to do and somewhere to go.

On a final note, I’d like to say thank you to Chung-Ang University for welcoming us, the international office, especially Jeff, who always works his hardest to help us and coordinates everything for us, and Joseph, who is always caring, listening and solving problems, the GLAMs, because we wouldn’t have enjoyed our stay to its maximum potential without them, and everyone that made a simple exchange such a wonderful and life changing experience.

I will never forget the memories we made, the lifelong friendships with people from all over the world, the beauty of Korea and its people.

Je reviendrai.

Imad-Seddik Arrada, Universite Grenoble Alpes, Fall 2016

When I first learned of my acceptance to Chung-Ang University as an exchange student for the 2016 spring semester, I was absolutely overjoyed. Now, looking back after completing the semester I cannot believe what an amazing experience I was able to partake in. Korea has been the number one country on my list to visit. Like many others, I was first introduced to Korea through Korean Dramas and K-pop. This interest led my family to watch Korean TV programs and learn about Korean culture and society. As a university student, I studied Korean language for 2 semesters before making my way to Korea. During the exchange, my language skills and confidence in speaking grew. My knowledge in Korean culture, history, and society increased as well. From lectures and discussions in my classes as well as through conversations with friends and observing the society, my knowledge of Korea has expanded.

CAU’s scholarship program, Global A, also granted me many encounters. Although I was there to help students practice their English skills, I believe that I received more than I expected. I made many friends, learned about Korea, became closer to the other exchange students I worked with, and practiced teaching and conversation skills needed as I work towards a degree in education. Working in E-lounge, was the best part of my week. It was fun to sit down and talk with students about their day and their interests.

Korea is an amazing country and I cannot wait to return. Highlights of 4 months in Korea include my first Korean snow, a weekend trip to Busan, eating tteokbokki in Dongdaemun, cheering for the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium, after e-lounge dinners with co-workers and Korean friends in Heukseok, attending a few Kpop concerts, hiking Hallasan in Jeju-do, CAU’s LUCAUS festival, late night norebang sessions at K2, and wearing hanbok around Gyeongbokgung palace. I was impressed with the amount of English in Korea and how easy it was to navigate through Seoul. Korean food was absolutely delicious (너무 맛있어) and very diverse. Korean people were very polite, helpful, and very encouraging when I explained my desire to speak Korean language.

My spring semester as an exchange student at Chung-Ang University was absolutely unforgettable. Not only did I have the chance to attend an amazing university but I was gifted with the opportunity to learn firsthand about Korean society, grow as an individual, and create friendships with Korean students as well as students from all over the world. I am excited to take the skills and experiences I received during my exchange and share them with others. I will miss everything from my time in Korea (except for the steep walk up to the dorm and the freezing winter weather).

Mahalo nui loa to Chung-Ang University for the opportunity of a lifetime.  많이 사랑해요!

Tips to incoming students:

  1. Don’t be afraid to learn a little Korean. A little can go a long way! If you show people you’re making an effort to understand part of their culture, they’ll first be impressed but also more up to help or show you something new. And don’t be shy if you can’t say things correctly, they’ll correct you, so just try.
  2. Korea is a great place to step out of your comfort zone. Go out and explore the city, try new foods, ask random students for help (they can speak English, they’re just shy so take the initiative), sing super off-key in norebang (karaoke).
  3. Walk up the hills at CAU. Don’t always take the elevator or escalators. You will be eating a lot of food when you get there so might else well use these hills as an opportunity to walk it off. You WILL gain weight.
  4. If you like shopping for clothes, Kpop merchandise, and skin care, bring two suitcases with you. One full of things you need and one empty. Things in Korea are pretty cheap and you don’t have to worry about taxes. Most international flights are two free check-ins so just do yourself a favor and bring an extra suitcase or duffle bag for all of the things you buy. Suitcases aren’t too expensive but I’ve only seen lots of small ones. Shipping however, is pretty expensive.
  5. Be prepared to fall in love. As in, be prepared to fall in love with Korea. Korea really is an amazing country. There may be times where things are a little rough and you miss things from home (food, pets, significant others, etc…) but Korea has so much to entertain! Go eat some fried chicken, watch performances in Hongdae or Yeouido Hangang park, shop in Myeongdong or Express Bus Terminal, hike some famous mountains, participate in temple stay, or ride bikes along the Hangang. And prepare yourself for new friendships. You’ll meet lots of people in the exchange program, in class, or just out in the city.
  6. The ATM and exchange rate charges are not a joke. *crying because they take my money* *crying because I be spending money* ㅠㅠ

Kuuleinani Lee, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Spring 2016

Before studying abroad, I thought that the transition out here would be the hardest part, but it turns out that getting ready to leave this place and transitioning back home is even harder” is probably the most remarkable part for me when I gave a speech during the Spring 2016 Farewell Ceremony. I really had so much fun during my study abroad period that I wanted to stay longer here in Korea and did not want to come back home for just a moment longer.

It’s been a great year at Chung-Ang University where I made lots of memories, experiences, and especially met some amazing and wonderful people around the globe. I stayed here for a year, 11 months to be exact, and to me it didn’t feel like a year at all. It went really fast, especially my second semester here at CAU. My study abroad experience is something that I would never trade for anything. To me, it is a golden treasure that I will surely be keeping with me for my whole life.

What made my study abroad experience more meaningful was when one of my professors offered me an internship to work in her laboratory. I was working with CAU graduate students, and it was a great month working with them all. I learned Molecular Bio techniques in the lab that will help me in the future especially.

Not to forget, GLAMs are amazing! I was really thankful to have them to help every exchange student! Despite their busy schedules, they were always there to make time for me and willing to help every time we needed help. GLAMs are one of the best Korean people I’ve met during my study abroad program.

Often, people asked what I will miss the most when I leave Korea. I usually take a few seconds or even a minute to think, but I couldn’t think of just one thing. I will miss everything in Korea of course. But there’s one thing I will never miss… the hill going back to the dorm! Incoming exchange students are lucky that the newly built building has escalators and will never have to experience climbing up the hill.

If I were to give advices to incoming students, I would say to always have fun and enjoy every moments of their study abroad program. Explore, go outside, and do as much as you can. Try as much Korean foods as you can, even the exotic ones! Probably once might be enough, at least you can say you’ve tried it. Try it for experience and always go for adventures! Never say “I still have time, I will do it later” because trust me, you don’t! But also, do not forget to spare some time for studying. Remember, you are also here to study and get some good grades!

This experience is not only to broaden our horizon but also to enrich our life experience. Interacting and socializing with different kinds of people make us learn different perspectives and teach us things about life. Just learning the Korean culture itself is already fascinating, what’s more when you interact with other exchange students around the globe.

It makes everyone of us an open-minded individual, that learning something from each other’s culture is not different or bad but a unique identity to be proud of.

Micheal Angelo Sagun, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, Fall 2015-Spring 2016