Cutting-edge technology and age-old tradition, soaring skyscrapers and majestic mountains, varied food and vibrant K-Pop – South Korea’s largest city and capital, Seoul, is a vibrant place to live, study and work that will always keep you wanting more. It’s also home to some of the best universities in the region, including Korea University which is where you’ll study when studying abroad in South Korea with TEAN.

Still on the fence whether Seoul is right for you? Read on for our top reasons to study abroad in South Korea!

1. Attending the top-rated Korea University

While studying abroad in Seoul, you’ll be attending an equivalent to one of the United States’ Ivy League schools. Korea University is one of the top three universities in Korea and is a part of the famous SKY alliance with Seoul National University and Yonsei University. You can read more about why we love KU so much here!

TEAN students on the Korea University campus
TEAN students on the Korea University campus | Photo by TEAN Korea Program Manager, Shannon Diegel

2. Mouth watering cuisine

We love all things food when it comes to Korea and it isn’t just because of the banchan, delicious side dishes that are refilled for free at your table. Korean meals usually center around a main communal dish, so you are not only enjoying delicious food but also great company! Whether you’re looking for a quick snack from the street like bungeo-ppang (a fish-shaped pastry stuffed with sweetened red bean), or gyeran bang (sweet bread with a whole egg inside), rice dishes, classic BBQ or some famous KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), you will never go hungry in Korea!

3. 400+ courses in English

Each semester 40% of KU’s courses are offered in English – this means more than 400 courses for you to choose from! STEM majors are often limited to studying abroad in English-speaking locations, but KU offers the opportunity to take STEM classes in Asia along with courses in a wide range of other subjects, from English literature to economics. While studying abroad in Seoul, most TEAN students also take Korean language and/or a culture course to round out their schedule.

4. Amazing mountain views

While Seoul is a massive sprawling city, what many students don’t realize is that 70% of the Korean Peninsula is covered by mountains! This means that there are a lot of hiking opportunities just outside of Seoul as well as even right in the city. As we mention in our 8 non-touristy things to do in Seoul post, san means mountain, so pretty much any subway stop that ends in “san” will have a mountain with the same name near it as many of the stops are named after the closest mountain. Most mountains have paths that can be hiked in a day which is a great way to spend time outdoors and feel like you have escaped the city. There are trails to fit every level of experience, so join those in their hiking gear on the trains and see some of the amazing views these mountains can give!

5. Local connections

Korea University school spirit
Every fall rivals Korea University and Yonsei University hold five different sporting events in one weekend, uniting the students through cheering. | Photo by Alicia Anderson, Drake University

Your Korea University Buddy Assistant (KUBA) leader and your KUBA group members will be some of the first friends you make at KU. KUBAs are local KU students who will be your guide to navigating the university and the city. Events throughout the semester include a cheer night where they teach you the cheers for the sporting games, the International Student Festival, and Ipselenti, an annual festival/concert, just to name a few!

6. Korean Skincare

It may sound funny at first, but South Korea is a trailblazer when it comes to skincare and the country has become synonymous with healthy, glowing skin. If you’re new to skincare and interested in developing a routine that suits you, you’re heading to the right place! A walk through the Myeongdong shopping district will open your eyes to all the different methods, routines, and skincare products that South Koreans love. While many Korean beauty trends have already made their way to other parts of the world, like face masks and BB cream, there are still brands and products unique to Korea – like the charcoal “magic stone” and snail mucus recovery gel (yes, you read that right). Even better, it is against the law for companies to test on animals, so you know that anything you purchase is cruelty-free.

7. KPop concerts

KPop is so much more than Psy’s Gangnam Style that hit the U.S. charts. It is a 4.7 billion dollar industry that is embedded into daily life in Korea. If you can’t see your favorite KPop stars in concert then you can hit up a hologram concert in Seoul! Even if you aren’t a fan of KPop, we encourage you to attend a concert for the cultural experience…you may be surprised that you start feeling the perfect choreography, catchy songs and iconic style of these groups.

8. World famous cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms on Korea University campus
For a two week span or so the cherry blossoms all bloom this vibrant pink and when they fall it’s like it’s raining petals! This spot is on the KU campus. | Photo by Roger Kang, Stevens Institute of Technology

South Korea is one of the top places in the world to see cherry blossoms bloom, so if you are lucky enough to be there in April and May, you are in for a treat. To catch the delicate blooms you can stay in Seoul, travel to Busan for a weekend trip or attend the Cherry Blossom Festival in Jinhae.

9. Super easy public transport

You don’t have to master the Korean language to master the Korean bus and train system – grab a map from a station or download one of the handful of transportation apps and you’re set! Seoul has one of the best subway systems in the world (plus heated seats for chilly Seoul winters) so you’re in good hands. Both the buses and the trains are well marked with arrows and numbers that are easy to understand and announcements and upcoming stops are broadcast in Korean, English and even Japanese.

10. Intriguing (and free) museums

With over 100 museums located in Seoul, you’ll surely visit at least a few during your time studying abroad. While some museums are public and others are private, you will find that most offer very affordable admission rates or are free and also offer tours in English. The War Memorial of Korea is the largest war memorial in the world, so you could spend months walking and exploring its huge campus, or you can take sign up for one of the English tours that will walk you though certain rooms of the museum in under two hours. With other museums dedicated to everything from folk history to paper to kimchi, you will be sure to find a museum on a topic you’re interested in.

Is Seoul a fit for your study abroad experience? Learn more about studying abroad in South Korea here and contact us with any questions to get started!