Studying in South Korea: A lot of discipline and immersion in the digital universe

 As a country marked by high competitiveness, education is paramount in South Korea - both in society and in the economy. The sector is one of the main destinations for government investment, which, with national economic development in mind, links education to digital advancement. With this, not only the big institutes, but also the small schools in the countryside offer quality internet access for students.

Most universities offer English courses for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as exchange programs and summer courses. At the best educational institutions in the country, such as  KAIST  (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) and Seoul National University, it  is possible to study with scholarships or be exempt from tuition fees through partnerships with universities around the world.

In addition, there are several options for scholarships, summer courses and research collaborations, such as  Postech (Pohang University of Science and Technology) and  Chung-Ang University , which has more than 600 course options in English.

Chung Ang University

For designer Bárbara Arantes, South Korea has always been a subject of admiration and curiosity. So much so that while in college, in July 2012, he decided to take a summer course at Chung-Ang University to learn more about the country's culture. After returning to Brazil, Bárbara saw that the Science without Borders program had open scholarships to Korea and did not think twice about returning.

Koreans are educated and the country is highly technological and very safe

Having had a good experience, Bárbara returned to the same university to study human subjects for a year. “This time, I tried to study subjects that were shocking to our Western culture, such as sociology and the study of colors. I tried to do things that questioned what I had learned in Brazil ”, he comments.

Regarding cultural differences, she comments that it was a daily learning experience: “Koreans are educated and the country is highly technological and very safe. For example, in a bar, if we wanted to get up from the table, we could leave it reserved with the cell phone, which nobody would take, ”he explains.

The graduation structure asks all students to take a percentage of the course in English, which made it easier for Barbara to choose the subjects. The way Koreans study also surprised her: “They do a lot less material than I did in Brazil, but the volume of reading there is much higher. I found it curious that here in Brazil, for studying Arts, I had many more projects. There, there was the exam week, which was basically talking about the texts ”.

She explains that competitiveness is something very strong in the national culture, which implies few projects carried out in a group - they are more used to following the guidelines of a leader, in this case, the teacher. "I remember that I went to help a Korean friend in a discipline and he did not understand that, because there is no such custom", he comments.

I remember I went to help a Korean friend in a discipline and he didn’t understand it, because there isn’t that custom

Barbara, who is currently pursuing a master's degree at the State University of Minas Gerais, keeps some lessons she learned in Korea: “They take things very seriously. Everything is very well established. Whatever someone has committed to do, he will do. From the teacher's class, to a doctor's appointment. It is a psychologically peaceful life. ” This, she says, was one of the main lessons she brought back.

KAIST - one of the best technology institutes in the world

Electrical engineer Vanessa Santos also had the experience of living for a year in South Korea. She went to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology , which is among the top 50 universities in the world, according to the QS ranking. Vanessa says that, without speaking anything of the language, her adaptation to a different culture took time to happen. Although her classes are in English, on the streets she needed to have some knowledge of Korean, which led her to study the language while there.

The pace of studies was also something Vanessa had to get used to. “My friends and I spent several nights awake to be able to deliver assignments on time and study for exams, but we saw that this was normal for Korean students,” he explains.

The cultural differences were also many: she gradually learned to accept the spice of the food and some rules of behavior: “It was not good for girls to wear t-shirts that showed their shoulders, so I had to learn to wear blouses that covered the lap, shoulders and my tattoo, which was also not very well seen, especially by the older ones ”, she says.

Vanessa says she learned something very valuable from Korean students, which is respect for the teacher, which she says she brought back on her return to Brazil. One of his accomplishments during the exchange was to have had the opportunity to do an internship on vacation at one of the companies of the Hyundai Group, responsible for the manufacture of trains and subways. "It was a great experience, I think for both myself and my Korean colleagues, as it was not common to have a woman in engineering," he says.

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