Sungkyunkwan University was founded at the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty in 1398. It was the highest national educational institute in the early years of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. As the oldest university in East Asia, it has fostered leaders of Korean society for over 600 years. The School of Humanities & Social Sciences is situated on a hill overlooking the old Sungkyunkwan Confucian institute grounds, and there are many historical sites such as the Jongmyo Royal Shrine and Changdeokgung within walking distance in the heart of Seoul. As the university expanded along with the city, the science programs were moved to a new campus in Suwon in 1978, about 45km or an hour away from Seoul.
For exchange students, the GPA required is dependent on your home university.
Language of Instruction:
Korean, English (30-35% of courses in each semester will be taught in English)
Flying Chalks’ tip: Do note that even if are indicated as being taught in English, professors may choose to teach in Korean instead for various reasons (personal preference, catering to the English standards of Korean students etc). It is advisable to check out the classes at the start of the semester, and plan more course options as a backup plan.
Undergraduate exchange students are allowed to take up to 18 credits at SKKU while postgraduate exchange students are allowed up to 9 (15 for MBA). The catalogue of courses available for each semester at both the Seoul and Suwon campuses can be found here http://www.skku.edu/eng_home/global/edu/inbound_2.jsp.
SKKU provides international students with two types of Korean Language Courses, run by the Sungkyun Language Institute: RKP (Regular Korean Program) and RKP for Exchange Students. The former is usually for students coming to SKKU to study Korean full-time, while regular exchange students will take the latter. There are a few levels to cater to different language standards and it is not compulsory to take the Korean language course.
International Summer Semester:
A four-week summer experience that brings international students and faculties together to embark in an academically stimulating program. You can expect to discover new friends, culture and history all within the same period. Every year, SKKU looks at hosting the International Summer Program with different themes to broaden its students’ initiative. Do expect to pay USD $200 for cultural Activities on top of the course fee of USD $850 per course. Applications for the summer program begins in February.
Course registration process:
Exchange students have an exclusive registration period that is conducted before the registration period for local students takes place. Emails with detailed instructions on how to use the GLS registration portal will be sent by the Office of International Affairs.
Flying Chalks’ tip: As Korean websites tend to require certain plug-ins not used in other parts of the world, it would be good to use Internet Explorer which supports these plug-ins. Browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox may not support the plug-ins needed for the websites to run.
If you are unable to register for any of the courses online, you can obtain a physical copy of the Course Registration form from the International Office, attend your desired classes in the first week of school and obtain approval from the professors in charge. This will of course depend on whether the class enrolment is already full, but usually professors will be more understanding towards exchange students. As with all things, always have a back-up plan!
International Summer Semester:
Applications for the SKKU international Summer Program is normally through an online portal. Expect an application fee of USD 100 and course fee of USD 850 per course. International students are only allowed to take a maximum of two courses. More information here.
Korean universities are rather strict on about being on time. Attendance will be taken at the start of the classes. Usually, the attendance encompasses 10%-15% of the module grade. Hence, professors may penalise latecomers, so do try to be punctual.
Flying Chalks’ tip: As long as you work closely with your group mates and make sure you have 100% attendance, you would most likely not fail the module. As education in South Korea does not have a “50% = failure system” like Singapore, simply do your best and enjoy as much as possible!
You can find the campus map here!
Welfare shops: The Welfare Hall is the main place where shops on campus are concentrated at. You will be able to find snack bars, an optical shop, a mobile services shop, a hair salon, a travel agency, a florist, a photo studio, boutiques and a SKKU gift shop here. You can purchase SKKU merchandise at the SKKU gift shop. Some classes may require textbooks which you can buy from the book store at 2F, Welfare Hall.
Other facilities like the Electronics, convenience stores and an abundance of coffee shops and cafés can be found in the student union building, entrance of the 22-dong of Engineering Building and Samsung Library.
Printing: Students can use the printing services available at the B1 Samsung Library and 1F, Engineering Building to print their notes. You have to deposit money into your school account after logging in on the machine, and use that amount to pay for printing.
Gym: There is a gym located near the dormitory.
Women’s Lounge: Mostly equipped with sleeping rooms, female lounges are available across the campus for female students to rest in.
You can find the full list of facilities here!
Food on campus:
There are plenty of take-out coffee shops located across campus, especially within the Student Union Building. Cafes such as the S.Y. Café and Café NU are located at the House of Righteousness (dormitory) and at the entrance of 22-dong of Engineering Building 1 respectively. Other dining halls are located in the Welfare Hall, Student Union Building and 26-dong of Engineering Building 2. Click here to find out their exact location!
It is also possible to walk out to the shops located just outside the campus. There are many great options that cater to student budgets. Do go around trying them all!
Flying Chalks’ recommendations:
If you are looking for an option to just fill your stomachs, you can go for the food provided in the dormitory canteens. Otherwise, we recommend trying out the bento shop to the right of the gate near Shingwan dorm. It offers good food at affordable prices!
There are free shuttle buses that operate between the two SKKU campuses.
Student life in SKKU can get pretty exciting given the wide range of programs and university events it has for students. However, do note that the focus on academics is strong and students tend to coup themselves up in their homes or dormitories when examinations loom!
Flying Chalks’ tip: It will be extremely beneficial if you are able to read and/or converse in Korean as the language barrier is rather high. You may find it challenging to enter the “inner circle” of Korean students and be lost in project group discussions if you do not even understand basic Korean phrases.
An Orientation day is organised for exchange students attending both the Seoul and the Suwon campuses before term starts. The orientation will be held at the Seoul campus where students will be split into groups which their HI Club buddies are in (if they signed up for the buddy system).
The day begins with an opening address, along with the mandatory SKKU welcome video featuring alumnus Song Joong Ki. This is followed by a tour of the Seoul campus. However, the tour may not be as relevant to students at the Suwon campus.
After the orientation ends, there will be several welcome parties at pubs nearby. The parties are organised for Seoul and Suwon students separately but anyone is free to buy a ticket to any party they wish to attend.
SKKU will ask students if they would like to sign up for the optional buddy programme when the acceptance package is sent out. This programme is facilitated by the HI Club (Help & Information Club), a student club that works with the Office of International Affairs to provide assistance to exchange students. Each HI Club member will be assigned several buddies and form a group with other HI Club members and their buddies. These groups may have their own outings and gatherings, like picnics by the Han River.
The HI Club organises events like the orientation program, outings to places of interest (e.g. Korean Folk Village). The club also selects other students who are interested in interacting with foreign students to be MAPLE buddies. They join HI Club events and outings regularly.
More information is available here.
There are many different student clubs at the Natural Sciences campus catering to a wide variety of interests, such as dance, sports and religion. Each campus has a different range of clubs and societies available here: http://www.skku.edu/eng_home/campus/activities/stu_organ_06.jsp. Each club has their own room located in the Student Centre. Students interested in joining any of the clubs can approach the clubs directly at their rooms or ask their HI Club buddies to help them find out more information.
As studying in Korea can be very stressful, many students take the time to play hard and have fun. SKKU hosts the ESKARA Festival every semester. These are huge parties with student-run food stalls and concerts where many singers and rappers are invited to perform at. In Fall 2015, the Suwon campus invites hip-hop dance troupes and stars such as 4 Minute, MFBTY and Leessang, while the Seoul campus invites indie artistes such as Urban Zakapa.
Seokjeon Daeje (The Smile of Confucius)
Once the premium Confucian Institute of higher education in the Joseon dynasty, SKKU continues to honour traditions such as organising a grand Confucian ceremony twice a year in March and September. The Seokjeon Daeje is a two-hour ceremonial rite held at Munmyo in the old Sungkyunkwan grounds. It consists of a formal ceremony with sacrificial offerings as well as a mass performance by dancers and musicians dressed in traditional robes. Anyone interested in Confucianism and how it has come to shape and define Korean society may want to attend this age-old ceremony.
Other festivals such as the Daedong Festival and the University Anniversary Festival are held annually to unite all SKKU students, councils and clubs. These events will normally have cultural line-ups organised by the clubs and councils themselves! More details about events in SKKU can be found here!
Located in a place that is home to many innovative start-ups and spin-off companies as well as much surrounding greeneries, the Suwon campus offers a great mix of modernity and history. There is also an endless list of things to see, do and eat.
University areas often have many cheap places to eat, affordable entertainment options and good shopping in some areas.
Flying Chalks’ tip: If you can read Korean, you can try using the main search engine in Korea, Naver, to search for information. It will serve you much better in Korea than Google will. To look for recommended food places around get a friend who can read Korean to translate or get a local to bring you around!
Flying Chalks’ recommendations:
- The bento shop to the right of the gate near Shingwan dorm offers good food at affordable prices!
- The 5000 won Tonkatsu Shop – A right turn after a small alley this Tonkatsu shop provides free-slow of soup and bread at 5000 won.
- The 6000 won Tonkatsu Shop (located just opposite the former with pink sign board) – The food here comes in a set and definitely well worth your money!
- Hansot (a Bento shop) – Located near these Tonkatsu shops is Hansot for when you are lazy and just want to buy some food back to hostel. It is along the road where the school gate is. (The gate where you enter the school when you walk from SKKU subway station)
For nightlife and entertainment:
There are pubs that open at night around the area, and some local students frequent these places after dinner for drinks. There are also noraebangs (karaoke joints) that operate until the wee hours of the day, so you can satisfy any karaoke urges you may have in the middle of the night. For the “real deal”, students would usually head to Seoul for a whole night’s out of partying!
Flying Chalks’ recommendations:
- Sinchon and Hongdae are places famed for its nightlife and entertainment. It mainly caters to the younger, hipster crowd.
- Gangnam is another place famed for its nightlife and entertainment, which also received global recognition when Korean artiste Psy’s MV “Gangnam Style” went viral. As compared to Hongdae, it mainly caters to the working and more sophisticated crowd.
- For those looking for a nightlife and entertainment area that features a more international crowd, Itaewon will be the place for you!
There are many small theatres that showcase plays and performances in Korean at affordable prices. In addition, there is a CGV movie cinema near the subway station. Certain movie timings (early morning around 9am) may only cost 5000 won a ticket.
For daily necessities and groceries:
There are 3 supermarkets such as Lotte mart and Emart located in the vicinity hence it is very convenient to purchase your daily necessities! They are located opposite the gate close to the subway station.
If you need help urgently, you can ask your buddy to bring you around. You can also explore the cluster of shops with a friend who is able to read Korean!
Flying Chalks’ tip: In Korea, stores charge for plastic bags where the fee can be quite high in some! Hence, do bring along your own shopping bag or carrier to buy groceries.
There is a wide variety of shopping options around the Suwon subway area, ranging from clothes to skincare. Alternatively, you can travel to Seoul, which is an hour away from the campus.
Flying Chalks’ recommendation:
- The Express Bus Terminal is a popular shopping spot amongst locals and foreigners alike. The basement features hundreds of shops selling products at affordable prices. Having said that, you can always bargain for better prices!
- Dongdaemun is another popular shopping haven where you can literally shop till dawn! For serious shoppers, it is almost impossible to finish browsing all the shops even with an entire day.
The Natural Sciences campus of Sungkyunkwan University is accessible by subway via Seoul Metro Line 1. Leave the subway station via exit #2. The campus is a 10 – 15 minutes’ walk from the station.
Getting from Incheon airport to SKKU (Suwon):
By Limousine Bus
The limousine bus offers a relatively inexpensive and comfortable ride to various places including Seoul. Passengers can find out more details about its services and ticketing at the ticket booths located outside the Arrival Hall of the airport.
Directions: To get to the Natural Sciences campus (Suwon), board the bus that is heading towards “Yeong-tong” at gate 7, bus stop 7B. Alight at West Suwon Terminal (the first stop after departing from Incheon).
After alighting at West Suwon Terminal (next to an eMart), walk to the bus stop under the overpass (you will have to make a round to the front of the building). Following that, take bus 62-1, 99 or 99-2 and alight after 3 stops (10 minutes) at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU). Walk straight until you see the west gate on your left.
For more information, visit: http://www.airport.kr/pa/en/d/3/1/1/index.jsp http://www.airportlimousine.co.kr/eng/lbr/lbr02_1.php
Taking a taxi is by far the most convenient way of getting from the airport to the campus (especially when you have lots of luggage). However, it is also the most expensive way and not recommended unless really needed. You can get a taxi outside the Arrival Hall.
Take Seoul Metro Line 1 and alight at Sungkyunkwan University Station. The ride should take about an hour. Take Exit #2 and walk towards SKKU’s Suwon Campus (about 10 – 15 minutes’ walk from there).
More details on getting to SKKU’s Suwon campus can be found here.