Marco Polo Report: Seoul National University (SNU)

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1 Marco Polo Report: Seoul National University (SNU) Author: André Defrain Date: 25th February 2015 Seoul National University

2 A. General Report: 1. Host institution and exact dates of semester abroad I studied at from 1 st September 2014 until 18 th December There was a midterm and final exam period. Midterms were in the last week of October and the final exam week started at the 7 th of December. There was an introduction week starting at 31 st August and it was organised by SNU Buddy for which you have to apply separately once you got accepted to SNU. I arrived in Seoul about 2 weeks before the start of the semester. Most of the exchange students arrive just a few days before of the start of the semester but arriving some time ahead gives you a lot of time to settle, overcome your jetlag, and do some first sightseeing and get acquainted with everything. 2. Contact with home faculty, preparation and journey The information provided by the exchange office was more than sufficient and during two presentations they will explain you what to hand in and what to do before, during and after your exchange in every detail. However, since SNU is a university wide partner and not a FEB partner I had to hand in a paper application at the MSD office in the academy building. This means that you don t just compete for your location with students only from the FEB but from all faculties of RUG. Furthermore, you are required to provide two recommendation letters from professors but except this requirement you do not have to do anything additionally compared to applying for a university with a FEB contract. However, once the MSD office granted me a place at SNU I had to apply to again but I could just use the same documents again, which I used to apply to the MSD office. Moreover, I sent my learning agreement in the first week of the semester at SNU because I was unsure about whether I could get into the courses I wanted to take. But this is not an issue at all because I was convenient to arrange the learning agreement with my coordinate via . Besides arranging the documents you need for the Marco Polo scholarship, do not forget to apply for a study visa for the stay in Seoul. I heard it is possible to apply for a visa upon arrival in Seoul, however I would recommend to have all paperwork arranged before arrival. Hyorung Song is the coordinator of the exchange program of SNU for students in Europe. She is very helpful and responds to questions via very fast. 3. Residence Abroad In case you want to apply for residence in the dorms there is a lot to arrange beforehand. SNU wants you to take chest X- rays and be vaccinated against measles. Your doctor has to set up a statement stating that you fulfil these requirements and that you are healthy. All this has to be sent to them per as well as per normal mail service. Plan in enough time ahead so that your envelope will arrive in Seoul before the deadline. Furthermore, you have to arrange your travel health insurance and provided the SNU exchange office with a copy of that. The dormitory places at SNU are very limited. Only a small fraction of students actually got a place in the dormitory and SNU will notify you if you got a place or not only 2 weeks before the start of the semester. If you are a graduate student you are eligible to reside in the newly build Graduate Dorm which are very nice and modern. However, as an undergraduate you have to live in the Undergraduate Dorms which are very old and

3 mostly not well maintained. You will have to share a private room with another international or Korean student and share the main dorm room with six more people. Living in the dormitory is the cheapest option for accommodation as you only pay around 140 Euros per month and live right on campus. Since the campus is located on a hill and in the middle of the green, the dorm location is really nice, as you have nature in front of your dormitory building and mostly a nice view over the area. In case you do not get a place or do not want to live in the dorms the other option is to rent a studio at Station which is the neighbour hood were SNU is located. All apartment buildings are very new and well maintained but you have to pay a monthly rent of around 400 Euros for a small room and 500 Euros for a bigger room. If you want to have a two level room you are supposed to pay around 700 Euros per month. I lived off campus in a studio in a building with many other exchange students which was really nice. You are closely located to Station which is at Subway line 2 that takes you in 10 minutes to Gangnam, 15 minutes to the Han River, and 30 minutes to Hongdae. Going to the SNU campus only takes 7 minutes by bus and does not cost much money because transportation fares in Korea for either bus, subway or taxi are very low. SNU Buddy will provide you with contact details of local real estate agents which offer a discount for you. Mr. Lim was a very reliable guy. You can visit his office at SNU Station exit 2 and he speaks English quite well. At the end almost all exchange students lived in two nearby apartment buildings which was really nice and we somehow create our own off- campus dorm. How convenient living in the dorms is, is kind of unpredictable. The rules in the dorms are very strict and it depends on how dirty/clean your room is and how well you get along with your room mate. Some friends voluntarily moved out of their dorm room and others really enjoyed their dorm. You will get refunded in case you wish to move out of your dorm room. One of the most important things is to apply to SNU buddy. This is a program in which you will get assigned to a personal Korean buddy who will help you with every issue you face. The level of English in Korea is very low so having someone who is always there to help you with translating or arranging things is really an advantage. Furthermore, through SNU Buddy it is really easy to get to know many Korean as well as international people. Every week there is a least one trip or party from SNU buddy and besides that you will be assigned to a buddy group which will organise events weekly as well. So SNU Buddy is a must and I think I semester would not have been as awesome as it was if I wouldn t have joined SNU Buddy. In addition you get several activities at a discounted rate like free club entry, cheap trips, and many other things. 4. Grant I received 700 Euro from the Marco Polo Scholarship prior to my stay in Seoul. 300 Euro I will receive after I return back to Groningen. Usually the grant is sufficient to cover your flight expenses (around 850 Euro). As mentioned before the amount you spend during your study abroad can vary widely depending on whether you live on or off campus. Food and public transport in Korea is cheaper than in Europe, however if you want to eat Western food you have to pay a premium price. Especially fruits and diary products are very expensive in Korea as well as clothing is. If you intend to go clubbing or visiting bars the price range is huge. If visit a club in Gangnam you are usually required to pay an entrance fee of Euro. However, most of the time foreigners do not have to pay the entrance fee since the clubs are very welcoming to foreigners. The prices in these clubs are on a premium as well. 10 Euro for a small beer is the common

4 standard. In case you go partying in the student district Hongdae or the foreigner district Itaewon the prices become very low and some clubs have great offers (Happyhour etc.). Another opportunity is to buy drinks at a convenience store which you can find everywhere in Seoul and in front of every club. The drinks you get there are super cheap and it is allowed to leave the clubs in Korea to have a few drinks at the convenience store and then enter the club again. 5. Study (general) The semester at SNU began at 1 st September and ended mid December. Since the professor can choose independently when to schedule the exams it is possible that your semester is one week longer or shorter. Most of the professors schedule a midterm (mid of October) but some just want you to sit the final. Since the courses structure and workload varies per professor it is kind of a gamble to choose courses with a more moderate workload. In general, the workload at SNU is higher than in Groningen and the professors demand a lot from their students. This is mainly because SNU is the outstanding university in Korea and in Korea the university ranking is much more important to the society than it is in Europe. I had courses where the final exam counted only 30% and courses where it counted 80%, so as I mentioned before it is difficult to estimate this. Furthermore, when the course registration platform opens you should be as fast as possible. Courses only take up to 50 or 80 people and it is based on a first come first serve. However, if you don t manage to enrol for the course you can fill out an overriding firm in the first week of the semester and ask the professor to let you take the course. Normally, every professor will allow exchange students to participate. Lectures take 3 hours and attendance is compulsory. They are really strict with that and no matter how you feel, you should definitely attend every single lecture. I took 5 courses at SNU Business School which account for 15 Korean credits or 30 ECTS: Corporate Finance: This course was very interesting as Professor Kim always used most recent examples and cases to illustrate the theory. However, the course was very challenging. There was only one presentation a group of students had to present but the workload before the exams was heavy. In the course you learn about Business Valuation Methods, Private Equity, Leverage Buyouts, Initial Public Offers. You should have a thorough knowledge about financially related topics and be acquainted with basic finance theory as Professor Kim will not repeat these basic theories and immediately start with advanced theory. Intermediate Accounting 1: This course covers some aspects of Financial Accounting but is more concerned with dealing with the proper set up of financial statements. Although the practice questions in this course were relatively easy, the final exams was unbearable as the questions were very hard and although the exam was timed for three hours the workload was too high for this amount of time. Furthermore, Professor Kim s (Kim is a common family name in Korea) English proficiency is very low and he often switched to Korean as I was the only exchange student in his class. I really would not recommend taking this course

5 because the way of teaching is not appealing as well as there is a total lack between theory and the applicability to real world problems or examples. Management of Financial Institutions: This course teaches students about the different kinds of risks a financial organisation faces in holding deposits and investing. You will get a thorough understanding of the different risks and the way to hedge those. This course did not have a midterm and Professor Kim was very lenient about report deadlines or attendance. Instead of having one three- hour session each week, the course was spread over two 1.5 hour sessions twice a week. Special Topics for Business Administration: This course is primarily designed for exchange students and does not require a lot of work. You are supposed to prepare two presentations with your group on real world cases and by having on site visits to companies in Seoul. Furthermore, this courses is primarily taught by guest lecturers. The two most prominent guests lecturers were the CEO of OTIS, world s largest elevator manufacturer, and the Chief Intellectual Property Officer of Samsung. This course had only one midterm, which was quite demanding, and it was based on the guest lecturers. In addition, you will visit the Samsung Networking Night taking place at a luxury hotel in Seoul with your fellow class mates. So in case you take this course be prepared to bring suit and tie. During this networking evening you will have dinner with Samsung managers from the executive level and SNU professors. This was a great experience and I would definitely recommend taking this course. Cost Accounting: Cost Accounting is related to Managerial Accounting but it places more emphasis on how to maintain the costs. This course was similar to the level at the FEB and the exams where reasonable. Besides a midterm and final exam the students are required to write three individual reports about a recent event in the field of cost accounting. However, the way of teaching was not appealing as the professor mainly read the slides for 3 hours.

6 B. Specific report Corporate Finance - 15 weeks 3 hours per week - no literature but lecture slides slides per lecture - 2 topics/chapters per week hours preparation time - The course deals with business valuation methods (e.g. discounted cash flow analysis), the functions of merger and acquisitions, private equity investment, leverage buyouts, the rationale behind conducting initial public offerings and the process of these. Lecture related activities - midterm exam 40% - final exam 40% - group presentation 20% - very relevant if you are an FEB student - not that high during the semester but very high before exams. But it depends on how you divide up your time Intermediate Accounting 1-15 weeks 3 hours per week - Intermediate accounting IFRS Edition chapters per week hours preparation time - Setting up of a variety of financial statements. Some basic things like time value of money covered but very advanced and detailed financial statements covered as well

7 Lecture related activities - midterm exam 45% - final exam 45% - attendance 10% - very relevant if you are an FEB student - Only high before exams, no additional assignments or presentations required Management of Financial Institutions - 15 weeks 1.5 hours twice a week - no literature but lecture slides - 40 slides per lecture - 40 minutes preparation time before each lecture - The assessment of different risks faced by financial institutions and ways how to hedge those. Many examples from recent events Lecture related activities - final exam 80% - group paper 20% - very relevant if you are an FEB student - not that high during the semester but very high before exams. But it depends on how you divide up your time.

8 Special Topics in Business Administration - 15 weeks 3 hours per week - no literature but guest lecture slides - length of lecture depended on lecturer - introduction of the company and lecturer - introduction of problems, industry, business faced and situated - no preparation time - You will experience lectures of Koreas leading academics and economic leaders. Furthermore, field trips and the networking night is included. Lecture related activities - midterm exam 60% - group presentation 20% - group presentation 20% - not really relevant but interesting - not that high Cost Accounting - 15 weeks 3 hours per week - No literature slides topics/chapters per week hours preparation time - A general introduction to the field of cost accounting. Elaboration and accounting of various T- Accounts of a process (work in process, cost of goods sold, etc.)

9 Lecture related activities - midterm exam 35% - final exam 35% - individual assignment 10 % - individual assignment 10% - individual assignment 10% - very relevant if you are an FEB student - equally spread throughout the semester Summary Impressions My semester at SNU was one of the best choice I made so far. Join SNU Buddy and get to know a lot of awesome people. The nightlife in Seoul and the Korean culture are outstanding. I would always recommend everyone to spend time in economically booming South Korea.

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