Seoul What, Seoul Why?

All you need to know about Summer Abroad Programme
In SIMGE  (Singapore Institute of Management, Global)

Before you start exclaiming “My university life was so boring!” or “School life in SIM is nothing but lectures and exams!” why not join an exchange programme!
While an exchange programme is not part of the academic syllabus in most of the universities under the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Global (GE), Summer/ Winter Abroad is an additional programme outside your degree, offered by SIM, that you can consider taking up! You will get your grading and certificate upon completion and it serves as a very good addition to your portfolio. Needless to say, the experience gained from living abroad is something you can never learn from lecture notes.

school life

You will definitely be spoilt for choices from the various Summer/ Winter Abroad programmes offered by SIM’s partnering universities across the globe, including universities from the UK, USA, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The programmes range between 4-8 weeks, depending on the school of your choice. The summer exchange programme is usually held in July. Do not fret, while there are some universities that has GPA requirements and interview rounds such as Harvard University and University of Cambridge, majority of the institutions will not look at your academic performance.

For students in SIMGE, while you will not be able to clear off module credits, on the bright side, you will not be facing any academic pressure from your home school, unless you are part of the scholarship programme*. On top of that, you are also able to diversify your knowledge and take up modules that are not related to your own degree. I had friends who took Ceramics and Taekwondo as part of their exchange modules. To me, that is the most fun part of an exchange programme; to try and learn something totally different.

*Global Learning Scholarship is available for students who want to join the Summer Abroad. The scholarship covers $1,500 and will only be given upon completion of the entire exchange programme. Applicants are required to submit an essay as to which University you wish to attend, why and how you can contribute. After which, only selected applicants will be shortlisted for an interview. Successful applicants have to attend all briefings before going on exchange. Scholarship holders have to attain at least a minimum B or A grade for all modules depending on the school of your choice. After the programme, you will need to submit another research and reflective essay, based on your experience there, as well as partake in the upcoming road show and give a presentation about your exchange journey. Scholarship application is usually in January or February.

For students who are interested in joining an exchange programme, I highly suggest for you to attend the Summer/ Winter Abroad Road Show to find out more information. Lecturers and staffs from all the partnering universities will be down to give talks about their programmes as well as to clarify any doubts that you have in mind.  The road show for the Summer Programme is usually held at the beginning of the year around January or February. The road show for Winter Programmes is usually in August or September. You may find out more information about the road shows from the Student Services.

pros

My Personal Account

I did my 2016 Summer Abroad programme in Seoul, Korea, under Hanyang University. Why Korea and why Hanyang University?  Due to budget constraints, USA and UK universities were out of my consideration. Additionally, I was craving to take on more media and communication modules and where else better to do that other than Korea’s booming media industry?  Among all the partnering schools in Korea, Hanyang University was the one that offered more film and media related modules, hence I knew that was where I should head to for my exchange.

The Summer Abroad Programme in Hanyang University allows students to take up to 3 modules of your choice. Each module lecture is 3 hours long and they are conducted from Monday to Thursday. Morning classes start at 9:00 AM and evening classes usually end at 7:00 PM.

As a partnering university of Hanyang, SIM students only need to pay a 45% subsidised course fee, in which the total cost, including 1-month accommodation, amounts up to an approximate of SGD 3,100.The amount is not inclusive of flight tickets, transportation and your own expenses for the entire exchange period. There are four accommodation options for Hanyang students –On-Campus Hostel, Off-Campus Hostel, Residence and Single Accommodation.

I stayed in the Residence Apartment, which offered either twin or triple sharing. The Residence Apartment are apartment rooms that belonged to Hanyang University, rented out to exchange students like us. There are other Koreans and tourists that stays in the same building. I personally feel that staying in the Residence Apartment is way better than staying in the hostels.

Although it is about a 20-minutes train ride away from school, it is located at Seoul Station, which is the heart of Seoul. Transportation is very convenient as the transfer lines and KTX trains are all available at Seoul Station. It is also a direct line to both Incheon and Gimpo Airport. As Hanyang University is situated on top of a mountainous plot of land, staying at the Residence apartment simply meant there is no need to climb up and down every time you want to head out or go back “home”.

Family Mart is just down below, on the ground floor of the building, and Lotte Mart is just a 10-minutes’ walk away. This means daily overdose of snacking! There is a rooftop lounge and a gym for all the fitness junkies. Even if you are not a gym person, you can still head inside because they also have a mini Yoga studio and 2 full body massage chair for you to utilise!

The down side is Hanyang accommodations do not allow any extension of stay. So you have to book a hotel or Airbnb if you want to extend your stay in Korea. However, for my 10 extra days in Seoul, the Airbnb apartment that I booked was actually in the same building, just 3 floors above!

Unlike an Airbnb room, the Residence Apartment room is almost like an empty shell. We had purchase our own floor mats, pots and pans, toiletries, blankets, bed sheets and all the other required necessities. I guess my friend and I were also quite unlucky as the refrigerator in our apartment was not clean properly. There were kimchi stains in it and it smelled really bad. We ended up spending a good 2-3 hours just cleaning the fridge and tidying the whole place up, trying to get rid of that foul smell. That was probably a one-time situation that unfortunately happened to us, but just in case, here is a heads up for people opting to stay in the Residence Apartment!

Aside from that, I guess the only flaw that I can find would be navigating around and exiting from Seoul Station can be a little confusing at first. Due to the numerous train lines, the station is quite huge and there are 15 different exits that are not near each other. You really do not wish to come out the wrong exit because it can be a hassle and costly to make your way around. Why costly? Unlike Singapore, the train gantries are located at each specific exit in Korea. You are unable to simply “U-turn” and make your way to the other side if you exit wrongly. You will need to tap into the station again and navigate from inside. Of course, a transportation fare will be charged in your T-Money card (something like our ez-link card).

Overall, like all exchange students would say, it was a fulfilling experience and something I would never trade anything for. Go out and venture because the world is your oyster. Do not be afraid of adventures, you will not be able to discover if you do not move from your original place. I wish every student all the best and may you be able to get your dream exchange country!

school of business

You can read my next article, Seoul Far Seoul Good; 3 Pros and Cons of student exchange in Korea to understand more about Summer Abroad in Seoul.

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Janessa Kong
"I am a graduate from the University of Birmingham in Business Management with Communication. I live to travel and documenting snippets of life/ videography is my passion. My hobby is running and food is my best friend. Everyday I tell myself to do what makes you happy, even if it is against the norms, because that is what you are meant for; to grow in places that people thought you never would."