Life in Korea
Greetings & Gestures
When meeting someone for the first time in Korea, it is polite to shake their hand with both hands and/or bow your head to them. Use both hands when paying for something, giving, and accepting things from others. A common way to be polite is to support the hand you are using with your other hand.
This is a frequent custom in Korea. You may wish to bring some small gifts from your home country to give to friends or classmates as a token of appreciation.
Time is often "flexible" in social situations - you may expect to find people arriving "late" to parties, dinners, dates, etc. Dinners and outings may also be very long so you can develop relationships with group members.
You may find it difficult to meet new friends - often people are introduced through personal acquaintances and networks - try to join clubs and activities (like the ISO , BUDDY, and ATTI programs) to meet people!
In formal situations with superiors, it is often impolite to make direct eye contact. When drinking alcohol with peers, it is common to look away when you drink as a sign of respect.
This really won't apply to you as a student, but exchange business cards is a customary way to introduce oneself while working in Korea. You might try asking your professors for their business cards!
If you take prescription medication, please try to bring an adequate supply for your exchange period.
You will be able to open a bank account for free once you arrive in Korea, but make sure you have access to enough cash to support yourself when you arrive.
Mobile Phone Service
Obtain a temporary SIM card at the Incheon Airport when you land for instant access. Alternatively, WIFI is readily available and convenient to use throughout Korea.
Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home, temples, and traditional restaurants (look for the visible area at the entrance for shoes).
Seasons and Climate
Korea has four seasons, so pack appropriate clothing and layers. Winters tend to be very cold and dry, while summers are hot and humid. Spring and fall are mild and beautiful, but short.
María José Valencia
Exchange Student - Mexico
I come from a small town, so I thought it’d be difficult to adjust to a city and a new university. To be honest, I thought I’d be invisible and wouldn’t make a lot of friends, but I truly believe I met people who became my family. It seems we all had an interest in common and there was always somewhere to go, something to do. A place of never-ending activity, and I felt like my life was moving forwards. I’ve seen so much and learned so much thanks to all the friends I met, both Korean and foreign. It is true, what they say about HUFS. You really go to meet the world.
While I was in HUFS I met amazing people from just about every corner of the planet. I was also so shocked at how many classes the University had available in foreign languages, even Spanish, my mother tongue! I found that the campus became like a home to me quickly, and it was exciting to share classes and dormitory with my new friends. My Korean friends often told me that the HUFS Seoul campus is a relatively small campus, but I thought it was charming and beautiful, many times nature coexisting with modernity, and that’s something you rarely find in a city. The intensive Korean language course was challenging but they were the classes I looked forward to the most, and I made great friends there as well (although sometimes we could only speak in beginner’s Korean!)
Being a student at HUFS was a life-changing experience, changed my way of thinking and seeing things, my way of expressing myself, and I think of those times fondly. I’m very thankful to have been in HUFS and I hope to come back sooner or later to study there again
Exchange Student - Indonesia
To experience the famous Korean spirit has been one of my bucket lists. And the moment I got the letter of acceptance for Student Exchange at HUFS, I couldn’t be excited more! Never have I thought that I would get to know the diverse and dynamic globalization blended in tradition, right in Korea. HUFS was a complete package for me. As I lived in the student dormitory, it was very convenient to go to classes. Even the subway station was close by and there were lots of delicacies around. Not to mention that HUFS is known as the best university for languages, of which I do think so. The good reputation comes with the great professors and students. With multinational-foreigners coming to HUFS, I could experience the multicultural environment, a harmonized one to feel and learn about international relations.
The best thing I ever had during my exchange program was to be ISO member. I was delighted to help and join activities with other foreigners while working with Korean friends. This is what I called cultural exchange done in a happy and meaningful way. And up until now I still communicate with my friends, which derived from lifetime friendship I made at HUFS. People here are surely open-minded to others’ cultures and willing to learn new languages.
There may be lots of cultures to study, yet the students show international mind and high tolerance for foreigners. I would then recommend HUFS for those who want the dynamic international life while being exposed nicely to Korean culture.
Exchange Student/Summer Session Student - USA
In 2014, I embarked on my first journey to South Korea and it left me wanting to come back more than before. I was an exchange student studying Korean language and Chinese politics so my schedule was pretty tight, but I can honestly say it was the most enjoyable semester I ever had! I joined ISO, the International Student Organization, where I worked with fellow foreign students and Korean students to ease the acclimation of student life in South Korea.
I made so many lifelong friendships through ISO and I also met my long-lost Korean brother, Kihun. We were roommates in the Globeedorm and we instantly became like true brothers; I traveled all across Korea with him and his family every month, and his family actually came to visit me in New York after I returned to America! I enjoyed my time at HUFS so much that I decided to return in 2017 after graduating to participate in the International Summer Session. HUFS truly is a global standard, and the lessons I have learned along with the life changing friendships I have made will always remind me just how influential HUFS was on my life.