I would like to start with an honest opinion about what kind of difficulties one can encounter here.
The biggest problem in Pohang and at Handong itself is that most people do not speak English, especially in service positions. On campus the staff in the cafeteria or in the convenience store do not understand English at all, not even basic English. Figuring out how the cafeteria works at the beginning is very difficult, because everything is provided in Korean. So the first time you want to order you should take a Korean speaker with you. Once you got it you will have no problem ordering food there on your own. But also classes which should be provided fully in English can be an obstacle for internationals, especially if you have only Korean professors like me. Some professors will start discussing things with the Korean students in Korean during class and will also allow Korean students to use Korean even in assignments and in exams. For a non English native speaker like me this can lead to a big disadvantage. I have to add here of course that not every Korean professor will be like that since some really provide their classes only in English and create an equal standard for everyone. But sometimes you feel excluded because of a certain language barrier which will haunt you even through group projects.
Many Korean students are afraid to communicate in English so that you should not expect everyone to communicate with you in English, especially not when you are the only international in that group. Besides the communication problem there are many things you can look forward to experience in Korea in general and about Handong, so do not be abgeschreckt of the language barrier. One of those things is for example the Korean food.
Korea offers a wide variety of food, meaning there will be something for anybody here. I could list so many foods but that would take too much time be warned because some Korean dishes are very spicy so if you cannot take spices you should be careful about that. Korean food culture itself is very unique since people here like to share food with each other by eating from the same big plate all together. One of those dishes is called Jimdak, which is chicken with noodles and sauce and dokboki (Korean rice cake -a must try out). Chicken itself is in Korea very popular and although it sound simple, it tastes better than any other chicken I have ever eaten before and I will definitely miss it when I am back in Germany.
But not only regular dishes are quite worth trying here but also desserts will make you fall in love with Korean food even more. Korea´s street food markets are also something you should not miss out once you are here. Strolling through those markets will make your mouth watering and will make you want to try out everything at once -which is unfortunately impossible since there are too many booths.
Another thing you can look forward to are the many cheap trips Handong provides for their students. From Andong´s mask festival, where you can see some of Korea´s tradition and culture and the traditional dance of different countries to experiencing a K-pop concert live while being at the front row, you can enjoy many different trips with great events thanks to Handong.
But even if you do not take place in such trips you can discover a lot by going on your own since there are many places around Pohang you can easily get to and are worth discovering. On of those cities would be for example the traditional village called Gyeongju where you can try out a Korean traditional dress called “Hanbok” while taking pictures in a Korean palace. Then there is the second largest city in Korea called Busan. You can enjoy the beach here through boat trips, eat many delicious food in street markets, visit traditional temples and much more. There are of course many other places worth to visit that would take too much time listing them all.
I could not travel around too much because of the huge amount of workload the university demands from one so you should be prepared that university life here will be much harder, especially if you have to take five major classes, which not even most of the Koreans themselves choose to do. Unfortunately interesting classes such as “Korean culture and language” got completely cancelled for media management students of Macromedia due to some schedule problems so that you cannot even experience Korean culture during class. I think if you choose to come to Handong you have to be open minded about several things and maybe you should travel after the semester ends so that the workload does not hold you back to experience the Korean culture fully.
That is why I will stay a little bit longer in Korea and travel around that great country that has to offer so many interesting places to see. Bute even for people for me that had to spend most of their time in the library on campus the university itself offers many great events on campus that I will talk about in my final review.