- Program Schedule for Regular Program
Of the prestigious SKY universities in Seoul, both the Morning and Afternoon programs represent average value and are slightly cheaper than the equivalent courses at Yonsei. As is standard practice, the university runs four terms per year, with two time-slot options for classes, morning and afternoon.
- Regular Morning Class (Mon – Fri / 9am – 1pm) Class – 1,650,000 KRW/Term (10 Week, 200Hrs)
- Regular Afternoon Class (Mon – Fri / 1:30 – 5:20pm) Class – 1,500,000 KRW/Term (10 Week, 200Hrs)
Location and Accommodation
SNU’s unique setting nestled by Gwanak Mountain (which offers several walking tracks for the nature-inclined) on the southern boundaries of wider Seoul is undoubtedly one of its most divisive points.
The immediate areas around campus are filled with various accommodation options, but off-campus entertainment and cultural life are generally not considered within walking distance, with popular choices being Sillim (5 minutes by bus), or Gangnam and Hongdae (both 20 minutes away on the Number 2 train line). As such, your decision on where to live is likely to affect the social aspects of your time at SNU quite dramatically.
The most frequented area for students is in Sillim-2-dong, a little valley “town” at the base of Gwanak Mountain, colloquially known as “Goshichon” (고시촌). The first nickname is derived from the fact that the area is home to many students diligently preparing for the notoriously difficult Law and Civil Service exams. For better or for worse, tracksuit pants and slides are ubiquitous throughout the distinctly ‘nerdy’ area, which is also visited by students from the nearby Soongsil and Chung-Ang universities. Although lacking the excitement of other major universities’ immediate surroundings, there are still plenty of bars for stressed students to unwind and many cheap eateries and cafes aimed at students (where one cup of coffee can be as little as 1,000-2,000KRW).
Prices around campus vary by distance and accommodation type, but rental properties can be found for 2,000,000KRW key money or less, with around 200,000 – 400,000 KRW / month rent. Whilst not for the faint of heart, there are also has plenty of tiny broom closet-sized rooms (Goshiwon) for rent similar rent or even less which do not generally require key money.
You also have the option of living in the areas surrounding Seoul National University Station or Nakseongdae Station (Bongcheong-dong). Both are excellent options and provide a slight upgrade to living in ‘Goshichon’. Here prices average around 5,000,000 KRW Key / 450,000 KRW per month rent for a nice one bedroom officetel. These areas provide something a little different to Goshichon and are a mix of apartment buildings and small officetels / jutaeks. The areas are littered with little marts, dry cleaners, and local pizza / chicken shops, providing a slightly more authentic community feel.
There are also shared rooms available in the SNU dormitory, but it’s location at the top of the campus hill makes getting to the language school building, and late night drinking down in Goshichon… a bit of a nuisance. It is also known to be quite competitive to secure a place.
Because students are likely to be scattered around Goshichon or other areas mentioned above, some students have reported that socialising outside of class is somewhat hindered by the inconvenience of having to take a bus to get anywhere off-campus. Outside the price, your decision on where to live should take into account your priorities for your time in Seoul; living near the station means easier access via the subway to the rest of Seoul, but you will have to bear the daily 10-15 minute free shuttle bus ride to class. Alternatively, living in Goshichon or on-campus makes getting to class easier, but you may find yourself spending a significant amount in these areas rather than exploring Seoul (but you may find this is better for your studies anyway).
While SNU’s name carries the reputation as arguably the top university in Korea, the Korean language program is relativity unknown. From our discussions with past attendees, the consensus suggests the program is targeted toward the long-term learner. As many students in the course are aiming to fulfill a language requirement before they enter into a undergraduate or masters course at the university proper, you are more likely to find people who are looking to build careers in Korea rather than your K-pop enthousiast or those coming for a gap year/ soju bender.
SNU’s self-published textbook (which often attracted complaints from former students) have also been updated in recent years to a coloured and more engaging affair.
An Advanced Academic Korean class is also offered separately, alongside elective classes and cultural activities for Regular Program students, including Chinese characters, TOPIK, and pronunciation.
Fortunately, SNU ‘s language program seems more diverse in student backgrounds than at other universities. Whilst there is significant Chinese representation, you can expect to come across some Mongolians, a few Americans, Europeans, and a token Aussie or Kiwi. There does not seem to be as many Japanese or Russians as other programs.
A studious atmosphere pervades the campus, contributing to a strong sense of an academic community. As mentioned however, social life outside class can be somewhat inconvenienced by SNU’s isolated location. This being said, if you live in Goshichon, there will still be plenty of opportunities to bond with your peers over food and drinks. Social occasions tend to be more low-key – quiet barbecues, pool, darts etc. – especially in comparison to the almost nightly party atmosphere of Yonsei. Furthermore, since many SNU students will be in Korea for several years, you have the opportunity to get to know each other without the feeling that each term will be a brand new party with brand new people.
Don’t expect the same amount of opportunities as Yonsei to appear on TV shows or find jobs as an English tutor, but there are still a few part-time opportunities posted on the SNU notice boards. From what we have heard, the Korean teachers are not great pathways for job opportunities either. As most students are preparing to go into university, there is not an abundance of networking opportunities for the slightly older business professional.
Asia Options Verdict
For those that are not so fond of the hustle bustle of urban Seoul, living in a quiet valley under Gwanak Mountain can provide a nice break for SNU students and provide a focused environment in which to study. SNU is an excellent choice for students levels 3 or beyond (intermediate learners) and for those who are committed to learning Korean.
The immediate area is not particularly lively and daily transit (e.g. to and from the station) can be a hassle depending on where you choose to live. This tends to impede opportunities for socialising with fellow students.
Despite its highly-regarded name among Korean universities, the school’s weakest point is the lack of opportunities compared to other programs.