SEP Report. SDE / Project & Facilities Management

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1 1. Student Information Name (as in myisis) Janice Chen Jia Xin Faculty/Major SDE / Project & Facilities Management Host University Seoul National University NUS Semester and Year of Exchange AY14/15 Semester 1 2. Study at Host University Please provide information on the academics at your host university: - Studying or learning culture at your host university. How were classes conducted? - What did you like most or dislike most about the academics at your host University? - Advice on module registration and module mapping My classes were not conducted in the lectutre-tutorial style, thus I either had two 1.5h classes or one 3h class per week for each module. In this way, the lecture and tutorial was somewhat merged together. Two of my classes were much smaller in size (20-25 students), and thus they felt more like seminars than lectures. Overall, the academic culture is mostly similar to NUS. One difference is that all of my assessments were non-cumulative anything tested in the midterms (1 st half of the content) will not be tested again in the finals (2 nd half of the content), which I liked. What was less ideal was the lack of English-taught modules offered. It is expected that with the first language being Korean, majority of the modules would be taught in Korean. However, the limited number of English-taught restricted our module choices even more, posing difficulties to us when doing module mapping. The English-taught modules offered in sem 2 (our sem 1) were released quite late, thus when trying to do module mapping earlier, we were unable to find any English-taught modules. Although we failed to register for some of our modules as all vacancies were filled, that was easily resolved by asking the lecturer to sign a manual registration form at the first lecture and submitting it to the relevant department office. Please list the courses that you took during SEP. (Please take note that the list of modules available to exchange students at the host university are subject to change. This table merely serves as reference.) Host University Module code Course title ECTS Credit Engineering Project Mgmt Financial Management Insurance & Risk Management A Architectural Environmental 3 System Advanced Building Construction 3 Technology Introduction to Psychology 3

2 2. Accommodation What kind of accommodation did you stay in during your exchange (eg. on campus / off campus)? Would you recommend this accommodation to future outgoing students? Do you have any other suggestions? I stayed on off-campus accommodation. It is a type of housing popular among students, known as a goshiwon. There is no lack of goshiwons situated near universities in South Korea. You just have to find the right one. Goshiwons tend to be infamous for being 'shoebox rooms', wherein they are cramped and small, but this is not always the case. Personally, I would definitely recommend staying in a goshiwon. I feel that in terms of location, convenience, amenities and privacy, it is preferable to the school dormitories. The only thing the dormitories have over goshiwons is price. SNU's dormitories are priced very affordably, if you are fortunate enough to obtain a slot. Location: My goshiwon was a 5 minute walk from the SNU subway station. For the dorms, you have to either take a public bus, a shuttle bus or a taxi (after public transportation stops operating) as the campus is not within walking distance from the subway station. Privacy: In my goshiwon, I had my own single room with a private toilet. In the dorms, rooms are typically twin sharing and toilets are shared. My advice would be: the most important thing in choosing a good goshiwon is to make a trip down personally, survey the room and the surroundings before making any reservations. It would be the safest option. Do not place your trust solely in the pictures uploaded online by the goshiwon owners. Also, the goshiwon business mainly operates offline. Thus, finding information and making reservations online from Singapore will be more difficult. Therefore, it would be good to be equipped with some basic knowledge of Korean, so that you can converse with the owner about room prices and amenities, etc. There are certain blogs and websites online providing information about this. Having said this, there are some websites and agents online which do offer their services in helping you liaise with goshiwon owners from their side in Korea. However, these agents charge a premium for their services, which I feel is too expensive. What my exchange mates and I did was to shortlist our top goshiwon choices, based on what we could find online, then I flew to Seoul earlier to check out all the goshiwons before we decided on our accommodation. It would be good to source out possible goshiwons earlier as SNU releases the dormitory allocations quite late, starting from 2 weeks before term starts, which can be quite a rush.

3 3. Activities during SEP Were there any activities organized by school/student group/external organizations at your host university which you would like to recommend to other students? Join SNU Buddy, which is a student club at SNU. Their objective is to welcome exchange students to life in SNU, and to introduce the exchange students to both other exchange students as well as Korean SNU students. SNU buddy organizes a great variety of activities for exchange students, ranging from sports day to hiking, temple stay and even white water rafting. The actual activities vary from semester to semester. Typically, each SNU buddy exchange student gets to choose one personal Korean buddy on a first-comefirst-served basis. Each Korean buddy usually has three to four personal buddies. The Korean buddies will placed into groups, thus every exchange student will be in one SNU buddy group. The buddy groups may also organize their own group events or outings. These SNU buddy groups are similar to the orientation groups (OGs) that we have in NUS Orientation Camps. It is a good platform to start to get to know more people, both exchange students and Korean students. Through the many activities, you will also get a chance to learn more about Korea and also other cultures. 4. Cost of Living Please provide an estimation of how much money you spent during your SEP? Please list travel expenses separately. Student D2 Visa (Single Entry) S$76 Alien Registration Card (IC for foreigners in Korea) S$40 Round Trip Air Tickets (SG-Seoul) S$ Accomodation S$1713 Food S$2500 Transport (including trips out of Seoul) S$920 Travel (trips around South Korea only) S$120 Air tickets & Accommodation for Japan Trip S$925 Shopping S$1250 Entertainment S$360 Other living expenses S$340 TOTAL S$ Challenges Did you face any challenging issues during your SEP stint? How did you overcome it/them? The language barrier was one of my biggest challenges. I only possessed a rudimentary knowledge of Korean, while most Koreans are not very strong in speaking English, thus it was difficult to converse with people I met on the street, like shop owners, etc. Even simple day-to-day activities like buying groceries

4 or figuring out what a shop sold was a challenge. When conversing with my Korean buddies or classmates, this language barrier sometimes also made it more difficult to understand each other. 6. Overall SEP Experience Please write one paragraph about your exchange experience and attach some photos that represent your exchange experience. Exchange was really an eyeopener for me. It was something I knew would be a once in a lifetime experience, and it did indeed turn out to be just that. I learnt things about myself that I never knew; learnt how to be more independent; and began to see some things in a completely different way than I used to. Seoul is a profoundly different city compared to Singapore. Many things are so unfamiliar, and yet the differences make it so interesting and intriguing. It s never easy to adapt to being in a completely foreign environment and in this instance, a foreign language as well, but eventually Seoul became a familiar place to me. Studying in a campus where the backdrop is a mountain range brought a different meaning to school. Especially during days when the mountains were shrouded in fog or capped with snow, I was in awe of the beautiful scenery before me. Throughout my time in Seoul I met many people, both local and foreign. They are people I will always remember. I made some great friends and I am so glad to have to got to know them during those four months. They brought much joy, laughter, and also a sense of closeness and familiarity. I am thankful to have been able to get to know the diverse city that is Seoul, and to be a part of this experience. It is something I would never forget. 7. Suggestions for future outgoing students Please share any other suggestions for future outgoing students. - Plan and schedule the activites that you want to do in Korea (eg. bungee jumping, hiking, watching a baseball match, etc) so that you will not end up missing the opportunity to do them. For students going in during NUS Sem 1, you will be going through autumn and winter in Korea. Some activities are only available during certain seasons, or are not available during winter as it is too cold. - Try to pack light, especially for clothing as luggage space will be an issue. There is no lack of shopping opportunities in Seoul, and if you are not careful, you will have a hard time bringing all your purchases home. Almost all of my friends, including me, had to send things back beforehand as we had too much luggage. I brought too many summer clothes. - Bring a good warm jacket if you have one. Preferably, it should be windproof, have a hood (to protect your ears and neck) and front pockets (to keep your hands warm). Seoul tends to be cold, even during autumn as the winds are very strong, much stronger than we are used to in Singapore. The winds are even stronger and colder during winter. Thick furry gloves and warm scarves are essential then. - Bring a travel adapter. An extension plug would be useful as well. - Since I brought my exchange funds in cash, opening a Korean bank account was very useful for me. I

5 did not have to keep large amounts of cash locked in my room. Also, Koreans tend to pay for everything by card. It was very convenient having a debit card. We could also buy things online, such as book intercity bus tickets for trips out of Seoul. SNU was very helpful in this aspect. During Orientation Day, they had Shinhan Bank officers come down with application forms on hand, and they guided us through the entire process. It was very quick, efficient and fuss free. We just needed to bring a photocopy of our passport. Our Shinhan Bank debit card would be ready for collection a few days after that from the Shinhan Bank branch in the Student Centre building.

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