Travel reports Chung-Ang

Ht22 - 1

I got the amazing opportunity to spend the Fall Semester 2022, in Seoul, South Korea – and it was hands down one of the best experiences in my life! I took five courses at Chung-Ang University (CAU), Seoul Campus. I enrolled as a Master student in the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) program where I took four courses on graduate level and one course on undergraduate level. To meet the required number of credits of 30hp, I had to take 15 credits at CAU. Out of the courses I chose, each course was worth 3 credits, and all were held on campus. You can apply either on a graduate or undergraduate level and this determines which courses you are allowed to enroll in. As a master student I was only allowed to register for a maximum of two undergraduate courses (this includes general education and liberal arts courses such as Korean language courses, so if you are interested in this this you should contact the Office of International Affairs at CAU). The courses on graduate level were slightly more time consuming, although these classes were more engaging and had more in-class discussions.

Below are the courses I took together with some information:

  • International Relations (Master): This was more of an introductory course to International Relations, which was very good for me since I did not have much experience in this field. This course mainly consisted of learning about a lot of theories and concepts, and there was a lot of reading to do. We had weekly assignments that were easy and did not take much time, and the mid-term and final exam were in the form of open book multiple-choice and short answer quizzes that were taken online. This was a smaller class with an even mix of international and Korean students from different departments.
  • International Security (Master): This course was described as the next level to the International Relations course. We looked into philosophical assumptions of human nature, history and historical reflections of the past, and discussed how to avoid or cope with current or future challenges. This was a highly interesting course with a lot of discussions, and it was also a smaller class with an even mix of international and Korean students from different departments. The mid-term and final exam consisted of online open book exams that were taken during class hours. 
  • Global Societies and Culture (Master): In this course we looked into how culture shapes societies and for each week we were introduced to a new theory. Each week one or two students presented the theory and then we proceeded into group discussions where we applied the theories to our own experiences. It was a smaller group where the majority were international students. This course consisted of one individual presentation and the mid-term and final exam were open book and held in-class. The professor was very clear and easy to communicate with, so I do recommend this course. 
  • Contemporary Issues in Foreign Affairs (Master): Just like the name of the course suggests, in this course we discussed contemporary issues in foreign affairs. For example, we looked into some theories and analyzed how it shaped the current relations between different countries, and we looked into the Russia-Ukraine war, elections in China, and the tensions between North Korea and South Korea. It was a highly interesting and fun course where the professor was engaging and challenged our thoughts. The professor also lived and worked in the United States for many years so the classes were easy to follow. Both the mid-term and final exam were reflection papers. 
  • Korean History and Culture (Undergraduate): This course gives you an overview of the history of Korea and its relations to other countries and it also discusses Korean culture, everything between Confucianism to the Korean wave (Hallyu). It consisted of weekly assignments (individual and group assignments) and both the mid-term and final exam were reflection papers. Since the class had 80 exchange students, the teacher chose to give the lectures via zoom. Overall, it had a lot of homework, but it was not difficult by any means, and it was a very interesting course, so I definitely recommend this one. 


 The university has Global Ambassadors (GLAMs) which are university students that volunteer to help you throughout your time at CAU. We were assigned a Buddy that we could contact if we had any questions related to anything about the university or living in Korea. They were always available and created different activities. For example, they arranged a field trips to other cities and activities at campus. This was very beneficial as a new student in a foreign country, and I was also lucky because my buddy and I are still friends now. Also, normally you can apply to be picked up at the airport by the GLAMs, however due to the covid-19 pandemic this was suspended when I went there. 


The university offers accommodation at the dorms on campus, but you can of course also find accommodation elsewhere on your own. The rent to live in the dorm was about 10 000 SEK for the entire semester. Some people found accommodation on their own before arriving in Korea, where most of them either rented an apartment through Airbnb with their friends or they rented a ‘Gosiwon’ (very small single rooms). Although, I chose to live in the dormitory since it was more convenient, and I thought it would be an easier way to meet new people and be closer to the university. There is more information available on CAUs website if you want to look at pictures and read about other amenities at the dormitory, such as the cafeteria, gym, a 24-hour convenience store, curfew on weekdays etc.  


I would say that the cost of living in South Korea is lower than compared to Sweden. If you live in the dorm, you can get a meal plan to eat at the cafeteria at campus, however you can also buy single meal tickets, this usually costs around 30 SEK. If you do not want to eat at campus you can find a good number of restaurants and cafes across from the university that are fairly cheap. Taking the taxi in South Korea is also cheaper than in Sweden. However, it is much cheaper to take public transportation where a one-way trip can cost around 10-15 SEK, the metro system is very good! It all depends on what you plan to do outside of the university. It is a matter of planning your time there well. 

Leisure and Activities

Seoul is a city with a population of almost ten million people, which is close to Sweden’s entire population! So, what can you do in Seoul? Anything and everything between hiking, café hoping, renting traditional clothes and walking around beautiful temples and palaces, visiting an abandoned amusement park, going to clubs and bars, enjoying Korean BBQ and other traditional food, shopping, visiting museums, going to concerts, or having a picnic by the Han River as you watch the beautiful sunset… and the list never ends. Some popular places to travel to were Busan (another city) and Jeju Island, and I also managed to visit Japan, which I highly recommend. However, since South Korea, just like Sweden, has all four seasons of weather remember to plan accordingly! Ultimately, you will definitely not run out of things to do, there is just so much to explore and experience! The best part? It is very safe, and people are very helpful and kind.

Some last words

When I got the result from the exchange application, I was incredibly excited but also a little nervous. The truth is, moving to another continent can be intimidating, and you will most likely encounter some barriers, anything between the language barrier to being exposed to a completely different culture – however, I had the most amazing time there and it is safe to say that it is one of the best decisions I could have made, it exceeded my expectations and I do not regret it for even a second. So, if you are interested and get the chance to go to beautiful Seoul, take it, it really is an experience of a lifetime!


Before you leave and after you arrive in Korea you will receive an overwhelming amount of information. One thing that can be good to know is that all students are required to apply for a Registration Card (aka. Alien Registration Cards) which is an identification card for international students studying in Korea. However, this process can be time consuming. By applying through the university, you might not receive it until the beginning of November. This is important to know because the visa is single-entry, so you should take this into account if you plan on traveling outside of South Korea. Some people I know travelled to South Korea before the semester started and applied by themselves during the summer and they got their RCs a few weeks before the rest of us.

Here is a list of apps that are good to know about:

  • Translator app called ‘Papago’, it is more accurate than google translate!
  • Kakao Talk (messaging app) and Kakao T (Taxi)
  • Naver map (Google maps does not work well in Korea)
  • Bring money! Their public transportation cards cannot be charged with a card and there are places where they do not take cards either, therefore it is important that you have money with you.
  • Buca Check can be used to check the amount of money you have on your Tmoney card (Tmoney card = card used for transportation)


Last modified: 2023-06-01