Can you tell us something about yourself? What do you study? Where did you spend your exchange stay?
안녕하세요! I’m František, a student of Geopolitical Studies at the Institute of Political Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences. I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program in the Republic of Korea, and my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer.
Where did you learn about the Inter-university programme and why did you choose your destination?
I wanted to experience a different world than the one I am used to, so Asia was a clear goal. Opting for South Korea was driven mainly by my Korean friends which I made as their buddy during their stay in Prague. When I later went to visit them, Korea became the first destination on my “exchange experience” list.
I knew that there is an inter-university agreement between Sogang University and Charles University since my freshman year, when I researched the exchange possibilities on the FSV UK website.
If I am right this is not your first study abroad. During your bachelor studies you were in Spain. So, you already knew what to expect, what to take care of before setting off. But still, it is Asia, different continent, different culture. How were your fist days? Where there any ups and downs?
I spent almost a year in my beloved Barcelona, and the experiences gained there were very helpful in Korea. Especially in the beginning, when you are alone in a new environment. The first days in Korea are even harder since you are surrounded by a language you don’t understand and most of the people either don’t speak English or they are too shy to do so. It took me a long time to acclimatize, however, my previous exchange experience helped me not to panic as I knew, that is only a question of time to find the right people and had a great time.
Would you share with us your favourite highlights?
Without a doubt, I must start with the food, which is probably the first big culture shock. In Korea, you will always find food you have never eaten before and discover flavours you have never tasted before. As a foreigner, you’re still a big attraction for locals, so if you go to any restaurant, they’ll excitedly show you different ways and combinations of how to eat your meal. Be ready, that in the beginning, you will feel like you are a kid who doesn’t know how to eat. Another highlight for me is university life, which is very rich in Korea. For example, each university has its own festival where you can attend K-pop concerts. Even though I am not the biggest fan of this genre, the atmosphere is amazing. This gets me to the nightlife, which is also a big part of young Korean culture. I can guarantee you that you will end up at karaoke at least once. It’s unavoidable.
Let’s talk a bit about the university itself. How was it? And what about the courses, was there a wide list to choose from? What about the structure of the courses, does it differ from FSV UK?
Although from a Czech point of view Sogang university is enormous, in Seoul it’s one of the smaller ones. Its campus is located in one of the best districts where the majority of the people are students. There is a strong emphasis on punctuality, with even a 2min delay being recorded as a late arrival. I was surprised about the range of English taught subjects, which mainly focus on East Asia issues. However, I can also recommend more general subjects, which will provide a brand new point of view on topics which you took for granted. All my courses were taught in a seminar style, where the teacher became a moderator of the discussion among the students. It took me some time to get used to this style, however, after a few weeks I was truly enjoying it. Korean style is more about thinking about the facts than learning them by heart.
Would you recommend the destination to other students? Would you recommend this type of mobility?
Studying in Korea was an incredible experience that I can only recommend. I believe that living so far away in a totally different culture pushes you further than studying anywhere in Europe. But at the same time, beware that you are not a Ryanair flight from home and the time difference will make any communication with Europe a bit complicated. You will get into situations you have never been in before. However, that’s one of the things, why it’s so enriching.
What did you gain thanks to this experience?
Independence, courage, an open-mindset, and hundreds of memories with which I will spam my friends for a long time.
You are in your final year of your master study. What are your plans after you finish? Is there any adventure in plan for your near future? Are you thinking of staying here in the Czech Republic, or working abroad?
During my stay in Korea, I already knew that one semester abroad is not enough for me, so I applied to the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Sweden and was successful. After my arrival from Asia, I spent 10 days in Prague and continued towards a new adventure in Stockholm. After I will finish my studies, I would like to continue in this trend.