When students think of studying abroad, South Korea likely is not the first place to come to mind. In fact, many Westerners may know very little about South Korea beyond the headlines regarding its bellicose neighbor across the demilitarized zone, North Korea. Hopefully this guide will shine some light on a region of the world that is often overlooked as a study abroad destination.
Much like the rest of Asia, South Korea suffered from the effects of World War II and the following Cold War struggle between the US and the USSR. Though the Korean Peninsula was split in two, democratic South Korea emerged from the chaos with a united populace and a flourishing economy. The Confucian ethic of filial piety has merged with western economic and political thought to create an extremely modern country that manages to retain a great deal of its Asian heritage.
This extends to all levels of Korea’s society. Respect for teachers and professors remains a pillar of Korea’s culture. South Korean universities are on par with anything you’d find in the United States or Western Europe. Large swaths of the population speak English because it’s understood that English is the language of commerce and no one in South Korea wants to be left behind. There’s also a push for Korean students to study abroad outside of Korea’s borders to expand a student’s horizon.
This cultivation of the international spirit extends to students who want to study in South Korea. Korean universities are absolutely overjoyed to have students from abroad come and study for a summer or a semester. These students bring with them new ideas and perspectives that Koreans are more than happy to learn from and absorb. This reciprocal exchange of cultures and ideas—learning from Korea as Korea learns from its visitors—is why South Korea should be considered one of the most unique study abroad destinations in the world.
Take some time to read through this destination guide and visit some of the recommended websites. South Korea may just be the perfect place for you!