5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming to Seoul

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Riana Santos
December 29, 2023

Now that I’m back home from studying abroad, here are some things I wish I kept in mind or did before moving to South Korea for the fall semester:


#1 Balance both parts of “study abroad”

Being in another country is so exciting that sometimes exploring becomes a bigger priority than class. Midterms and final exams may be different or more difficult than what you are used to. Moreover, I felt that I had a bigger responsibility on myself to really understand the class material. I recommend reading the textbook regularly and gradually teach yourself the lessons. Studying can be fun too if you take it as an opportunity to explore third places. In fact, Seoul has a lot of pretty cafes to eat and study. On the other hand, do not study too much to where you miss out on all the great things your study abroad destination has to offer.

#2 Research!!

Try to do some research into activities you want to do while abroad. It will make the planning process easier later on. I recommend using Instagram for anything beauty related and Trip Advisor for trips across South Korea. I also recommend studying up on basic Korean, even if you plan on taking a class to learn the language. Studying beforehand will not only make navigating the country easier, but it will also help you in your language class and when you meet locals.

#3 Say YES to experiences

Although I recommend researching activities, don’t plan too much!! You want to have some room for spontaneous adventures too. The friends you make while abroad probably have their own plans and activities they want to do, and sometimes it can be something you didn’t know or think about! You never know what will happen and it can be a memorable experience that brings you and your study abroad friends together.

#4 Don't feel bad if you can't do everything

South Korea has a lot of fun activities to do and places to see. Everyone in the program will at some point be doing their own thing, and the time you spend abroad goes by quicker than you think. If you miss out on something, save it for the next time you visit! Acknowledging this also helps with prioritizing what you really want to do while you are abroad. I say you should prioritize doing things you’ve dreamed of doing or activities that are better done with friends or while you are a student. In the case you have no one to do something with, that’s ok too!! A lot of growth can happen when we spend time with ourselves.

#5 Budget, budget, budget!

Easiest way to budget is to ignore the conversion rate. Ok, hear me out! As I’m writing this, the US dollar is stronger than the Korean won, meaning you can get more KRW per USD. You can get trapped into thinking that you are saving money, but eventually it builds up in other ways. Even if the conversion rate isn’t more advantageous for your home country’s currency, I still argue that keeping track of how much you are spending will be beneficial for your wallet and can help you develop better money habits.


Overall, to make the most of your study abroad experience, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to be intentional about what you want to get out of your opportunity. Even though I may have learned some of these tips later in my time abroad, I still enjoyed South Korea!! To whoever reads this post, I hope this helps! 

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