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Student Testimonials: Yonsei University

Name: Patrick Yan 

Highlight of my semester abroad:

Exploring a new culture every day and making new friends! 

Interesting fact I learned about South Korea:

Although coffee is a relatively new import to Korea, the café culture is more diverse and superior to that of the U.S.

You might be interested to know:

I interned briefly at Seoul Space, Korea’s most prominent startup incubator, and participated in the 2012 YG Entertainment Idealist program.

What I would say to students interested in participating in IBEX:

Research before going. Prep yourself for the new culture by reading blogs and watching Youtube videos about Yonsei and Korea. Befriend people from at least 10 different countries. Try some sannakji (live octopus). Explore historical landmarks and the non-stop nightlife.

More Student Insight


  • Airline ticket to/from IBEX site: $2,000 USD
  • Housing: $1,600 USD/semester
  • Food: $1,300 USD/semester
  • Local Transportation: $150 USD/semester
  • Books (per semester): $0-50 USD/semester
  • Entertainment: $40-$50 USD/week
  • Phone: $80 USD/semester


  • "Skype is your best friend. That or Zoom, Google Voice/Hangouts."
  • "If you buy an international calling card in a kiosk in a subway station (not a convenience store) you will get approximately 4-7 hours of talking time for 10$ depending on if you are using a landline or a cell phone."


  • "Credit works fine, but if you have a way to withdraw cash without exorbitant fees, that can be better. There are plenty of fee-less ATMs for global cards."
  • "You can open a bank account in Worri Bank in Yonsei once you register as a foreign student. Or you can simply use your check card to withdraw money."
  • "Credit card machines are prevalent and even the smallest shop will accept credit cards."


  • "I lived in a small studio outside of campus because I didn't register for on-campus housing on time. I found my place because I had a friend who took classes in Yonsei before, and she helped me contact the owner (who spoke English) and set up my contract. The places outside of the dorms can be kind of small (even smaller than Weinstein), but in all honesty, it's just part of the culture, and it was a fun experience, in retrospect. There's no meal plan here, but all food is generally cheap, and Korean-style food generally runs around $5 for anything that's not K-BBQ."
  • "The dorms are nice and provide basic furnishings like beds, desks, etc..."
  • "Food is extremely cheap if you use the school cafeterias. There are more than 10 cafeterias, and you can get a meal for $2-4 depending on the menu - Korean, Fusian, or American foods. The food quality is definitely better than NYU cafe's foods."


  • "The workload was more than Stern classes, but the grading system for good classes generally reflects an understanding of the material. It's not any harder than Stern, but it's not necessarily easier, depending on the classes and the professors. The study abroad courses are especially likely to be different every semester because the professors seem to change."
  • "Yonsei does have a premier academic program, but the Asian education system is different from the US education system. It requires more memorization than the U.S. and less application."
  • "Stern students will have an easy time presenting in Yonsei's classes because they have much more experience presenting."
  • "The grading system is pretty lenient. The workload is pretty light which was good since I went there wanting to really learn about the culture."

Course Registration 

  • "Fall classes were published and finalized by May or June, but the syllabi were not posted until mid-to-late-August. It causes a lot of problems with course confirmation, which was done after I had already attended orientation. I registered online, but Yonsei policy dictates that any course changes done after the first day of school be on paper."
  • "In NYU, we can be waitlisted in a course, and we will be automatically registered to a course once people drop off. However, in Yonsei, there is no waitlist system so you constantly have to be in front of the computer pressing the "submit" button until it gets through."
  • "But don't be dismayed. As an exchange student, you can enroll in any class - even if it is full - simply by showing up in class and asking the professor. Professors are pretty lenient about that with exchange students."
  • "Another good factor to consider is that you can sign up for any courses except the medical, music, or nursing courses. So you have the chance to sign up for high-level or basic courses depending on your needs."

Course Recommendations

  • "My favorite course was Production and Operations Management with Daesik Hur.  He's just a very amiable person with a very good grasp of English and operations concepts. I definitely gained an interest in Operations Management just from his class alone."
  • "I liked the professor in my Introduction to Psychology class because he was a really sharp professor who knew the psychology field very well (he is apparently one of the most prominent psychology experts in Korea). He taught the class in an engaging way with practical examples. I recommend any psychology class in Yonsei because it apparently has a very strong program in Korea (arguably the best) and offers many courses in English."
  • "I thoroughly hated International Trade Theory. It was hard because it was a high-level economic class which I was not ready for."

Student Life

  • "I didn't participate a lot in clubs, but at the beginning of the semester, there is a massive club fair which any prospective club member should check out. A few of my friends are in clubs and they all enjoy it, even though they can't always understand what's going on."
  • "I spent a lot of time with international students, but mostly with other Americans. However, some local students get roped in every now and then, and I've also been going to hip-hop classes around the city, where I've met other local people. It's easy to meet internationals because they're all in the same dorm, but the local students are hard to find because they live across the campus and have a bit of a negative view of internationals."
  • "All the exchange students will be exposed to two clubs in the beginning: IYC (International Yonsei Community) and Mentors. I spent most of my time hanging out with members of IYC. Both clubs have similar functions, with their main duty to befriend exchange students, help them adjust and show them around Korea."
  • "I joined IYC because it is less institutional. Some people say it is less organized, but I would say it is more like family. Everyone knows everyone and they hang out pretty much every day together and exchange students are welcome to their parties." 
  • "Besides these two clubs, Yonsei has a club fair that lasts a whole week. You can join any club and there are a lot of them: American football, scuba diving, tennis, jazz band, jazz dance, soccer, etc..."
  • "Also, if you are non-Korean you might have a chance to star in Korean TV shows. As Korea is getting more globalized, many TV programs are hiring foreign students or workers in their shows to share their views so that Koreans can learn about them."
  • "I spent most of my time with regular Yonsei students. I did not have any problem getting to know them (although I do speak Korean fluently). They actually approach foreigners quite actively to learn English and to help them out. Also, there are many students who are fluent in English."
  • "I do recommend joining a club because Korean people are considered a highly collective society. So if you are not in a group with them, it might be hard to befriend them. But once you are in, you will be part of them."
  • "The fall is very busy - especially the first month with lots of events and parties. In late September or early October is an event called Yon-Go Jon. This is an athletic competition between Yonsei University and Korea University (the longest rivalry in Korean college history). So, for two to three days, these two schools rent out the Seoul Olympic Stadium (seating 40,000) to host these games. There will be ice hockey, soccer, basketball, etc. The preparation for this event is intense and the entire school gets together to prepare. Unlike at NYU, this is the moment where you can experience the ultimate school spirit and go crazy for two full days."
  • "The Spring semester is a little more laid back. There are definitely tours and parties, as well as festivals. If you join the IYC, they host an event called "The Cooking Festival" where exchange students from various countries will cook their ethnic foods with local students and sell them to Yonsei students. After this, there is a festival hosted by Yonsei which lasts two to three days. Every club in Yonsei either sells food, drinks, or entertainment. The highlight of this festival is the AKARAKA show, which actually gets broadcast on TV."

Restaurants, Shopping, Must-See Sites

  • "Go to 이대 (Edae) for cheap clothes that may or may not fit you. You can haggle there. 동대문 is like a fabric market, and they also have a lot of clothes. It's further away from campus, but the selection is huge, and haggling is possible. 명동 is the place to be for branded goods, but it's more expensive compared to the US, in most cases. Korean brands tend to be pretty cheap and also good quality, so look for brands you don't know."
  • "There are tons of restaurants, pubs, and clubs near Yonsei. Around Yonsei, there are three more colleges. So this area is highly commercialized to cater to college students. You will not have a problem looking for good places to go out. In fact, my Belgian friend had the best cream sauce pasta during her stay in Korea!"

Travel Tips

  • "For domestic trips, it is very easy to travel (although you will have some language problems in distant cities). I recommend going to Kyeong-ju, it is an ancient city with a history of more than 2,000 years with buildings and relics of comparable age."

Culture Shock

  • "I was raised in a traditional Korean background and read lots of Korean books and newspapers regularly. I have also traveled to over 22 countries so far and was confident I would fit in well. But even with this background and preparation, I underestimated the culture shock."
  • "I would like to tell students to be ready for the differences between the two cultures. In the western world, people are more direct, however, in Korea, people are less direct so the listener must pay attention to the context of the conversation to really understand it. Also, much information is not readily available, so be ready to actively seek out information and frequently find and contact the appropriate personnel for information."
  • "Frankly, I think Yonsei has one of the best programs. It is unique, and I don't know if any other program or school provides this kind of experience."