I joined the Spring exchange programme at POSTECH located in Pohang which is a coastal city in South Korea near Busan. Similar to SUTD, POSTECH offer science and engineering majors. We had guaranteed on-campus accommodation which was very affordable, and I stayed at the Dormitory for International Cultural Exchange (DICE) where you could mingle with other international students.
There are a variety of classes you can choose from while ensuring you can transfer your credits. The courses range from more project-focused to exam-focused ones which you can find by referring to the course catalogue. When a course that cannot be directly mapped back piques your interest, you can choose to use your unrestricted electives.
understanding course content
Many classes are taught in English so there are largely no issues understanding the lessons. However, some learning experience may be lost as most students feel more comfortable conveying their ideas in Korean, their first language. It can thus be difficult to benefit from class discussions and questions asked by other students. Professors would reiterate in English but when it is overlooked, you can be proactive in clarifying with the professors or your peers.
Studying among other students in Korea made me realise that the geographical boundaries do not set our experiences too far apart. The students face similar struggles as we do, just with a different context. Walking past the library, you can see students in their intense focus sessions. However, the atmosphere is a complete turn during events where everyone let loose and immerse themselves in the music and simply have fun.
For a convenient meal at a low price, the cafeteria offers a balanced meal (meat, vegetables, side dishes, soup). There is often traditional Korean food on the menu so it is always interesting to try the different offerings. One downside is that food is only available at specific hours. Hence, if you are hungry at 3pm (or 3am), head over to the convenience store for a mini snack. The menu tends to revolve around similar dishes so do explore other food options with recommendations from your Korean friends!
Visiting in this term allowed me to enjoy the seasonal changes. At the start of term (mid February), the temperature was below 10 degree Celsius and it increased to around 20 in May. The best part is being able to observe the changes in floral blooms.
Pace of life
With no subway system in place, Pohang poses a huge contrast to the city life we are used to. This can be a plus or minus but I appreciated being closer to nature and the lower street density. The intercity bus terminal is also simply a few bus stops away from school so you can take day trips to nearby cities during the weekends.
My exchange experience at POSTECH was also smoothened with the guidance from the ISSS (International Student and Scholar Services) staff who always kindly helped with administrative matters and enquiries.
I shared about my experiences in the posts below:
② Exchange Student Life at POSTECH (this)