Studying abroad can be a terrifying experience but it can also be really exciting. You'll be able to learn many new things and meet intriguing people who live very different lives from yours. However, to make sure you have smooth sailing all the way, you will have to get a few things sorted out.
Here's a complete guide to studying in South Korea for Malaysians.
Why do Malaysians go to Korea to study?
You might be thinking, why is South Korea such a popular choice for people to study abroad.
Well for starters studying in Korea for Malaysians is definitely a more affordable option when it comes to tuition fee compared to America, United Kingdom or even Australia.
For quite some time South Korea has built a good reputation in offering quality tertiary education.
Some of the courses that seem to be on high demand for both degree and masters students are:
Music & Entertainment
Due to the booming success of K-Pop and K-Drama, the entertainment industry in South Korea has gained a lot of attention. Courses like Music Education, Instrumental Music and Music Composition seem to be some of the popular choices.
Production & Broadcasting Media
The ever-growing entertainment industry of South Korea creates a great opportunity for both locals and foreigners to learn more about production or broadcasting media.
Civil Engineering & Construction
With incredible architecture and breathtaking views, it is no wonder that a lot of people choose South Korea to learn and practice engineering.
The balance of old and new concepts and ideas proves to be a great muse for new interpretations.
Undoubtedly, South Korean economy is seeing rapid growth.
Explains why a lot of foreign students choose to learn the ins and outs of businesses there.
The complex and complicated political history of South Korea enables students to learn in depth about sociology as well as social science.
If you happen to be a history buff, you're in for a treat given South Korea's rich culture and past.
Despite globalization and constant development, South Korea has still managed to retain its culture and identity. The familiarity of being in another Asian country is felt through shared tradition and lifestyle.
This is also a reason why a lot of Malaysians choose South Korea to study.
What are the requirements to study in South Korea?
First thing first, ensure that you are able to speak and understand Korean. Most of the lessons are conducted in Korean and knowing the language will help you keep up with the classes and understand the course better.
The course offered mainly focus on pre-graduate and graduate courses. Just like continuing your degree or masters in Malaysia, in South Korea, you still need to have a diploma or any pre-degree certificate in the related field.
This shows that you've gotten your basics covered and your education is valid. Another key requirement to study in South Korea is having good language skills.
An English-language prep course is usually required to validate your proficiency as well as your ability to participate in lectures. The certificates that are generally accepted by the South Korean University are
-C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency.
TOPIK certificates are not compulsory for every course however it is a part of the requirement for your visa to be approved.
You can know more about TOPIK and how to register for it here.
Perks of studying in South Korea.
Be it a multinational organization or a small Korean company, knowing the language and receiving an acknowledged education in South Korea definitely makes you a more eligible candidate for a job opportunity.
Studying in South Korea comes with the exciting side of participating in local events and festivals.
With a beautiful mix of old world charm and fun new gadgets and technologies, you'll never run out of things to do.
From traditional galbi jjim to mouthwatering skewers by the street, South Korea will fill you with amazing smells and tantalizing flavours. Be prepared for a gastronomical adventure.
If you happen to look for halal food, they have that too!
Be it a 4 years of Bachelor’s degree programmes or 2-3 years of Master's degree, you will be able to choose your ideal university and your prefered course without a glitch.
Just remember to complete all the required documents.
Top 10 best universities in Korea
According to TopUniversities, here is the list of the top 10 best universities in South Korea:
How to get a student visa as a Malaysian to Korea?
The first step to studying abroad is getting your student visa arranged. You are eligible to apply if you are a Malaysian citizen who has a MyKad.
You will also need a Student Pass which means you have to be enrolled in a diploma or higher program at an accredited tertiary education institute. For those who are studying language, remember that certificate and foundation courses are not eligible.
How to submit the form?
Make sure to print out the completed e-Form from the Korea Visa Portal, sign it, and submit the e-Form along with the required documents and fees to the Visa Counter at the Embassy during its operating hours.
Find more information and details on how to submit the forms here. Your application will most likely take at least 5 working days to process, not including the day of submission.
Getting settled in South Korea
When talking about studying in South Korea, one of the main things that need to be considered are the living arrangements. Logistics is key as it can be a large chunk of your expenses there.
Usually, the more affordable option would be the university dormitory. Since the dorms are paid for the entire semester, you don't have to worry about monthly rents.
However, if you choose to stay privately, you can always opt for accommodations in and around most university regions. You can always ask your university information and advice on the arrangements for their own accommodation as well as the price and quality of private options nearby.
If you are going for a short duration, you can even choose to live with a Korean family there. This will definitely give you an insider's view on the country and its people's lifestyle.
Despite everything, make sure to arrange your accommodation at least a month in advance, just to make sure you have a confirmed address for your documents. Believe us, it definitely pays to get the huge stress out of the way.
Things to take note while living in Korea
So you've got all the documents done and accommodations confirmed, next comes the difficult part of getting settled in.
Here's a couple of pointers that we think you should know before going to study in South Korea.
Like most countries, South Korea has its own shared culture and customs. They are always mindful of the social hierarchy in the sense that you are always required to be respectful to anyone who is older than you, similar to what we have in Malaysia.
A good practice is to bow and nod to the other person which shows respect and goodwill. Food is an integral part of South Korean culture. You must wait for the eldest person at the table to start eating first. You then have to wait for them to be done with their meal for you to be able to leave the table.
Be mindful to match everyone else's eating speed. Eating too slow or too fast compared to others on the table is considered rude.
Traditional Korean meals usually consist of dishes that you share with the rest of your table and while having your own serving of rice and soup. Remember to keep your chopsticks and spoon on the right of your soup dish (commonly on a chopstick holder), then place your rice to the left of your soup bowl.
Part-time jobs for Malaysians who are studying in South Korea.
There are a lot of job opportunities for you as a part-timer.
Based on your student visa, as foreign students who is enrolled in a full-time course, you can be a part-time worker for less than 20 hours a week during semester time and unlimited working hour during vacation time, as mentioned by the Ministry of Justice.
However, make sure to ask for a recommendation letter from your supervising professor, just in case. As an international student, you can even work within your university. A good idea is to work as a tutor if you happen to have a subject that you are really good at.
Even though 25-30% of your classes are conducted in English it is always advisable to learn the Korean language. This can help you settled in much quicker and give you a chance to communicate with your fellow students and professors better.
That's the general rundown for Malaysians on studying in South Korea.
We really hope what we've said so far helps you get a clearer picture of what to focus on when deciding to study there.