Students’ Experiences during the Summer Exchange Program

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GIST holds a lot of international exchange and cooperation programs with several universities around the world. As a GIST student, you can spend one summer at an overseas university and earn credit towards your degree through the GIST Summer Exchange Program.

 

General information

Every year, students can study abroad at world-class universities like UC Berkeley, Boston University, University of Cambridge, and the entrepreneurship program at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The program is held every summer from June to August (5 to 8 weeks). GIST students who meet the GPA and English requirements can apply in their sophomore or junior year. Students can take up to two regular courses (6 to 8 credit hours). The credits acquired in foreign universities will be transferred as course credits in corresponding GIST courses, including grades. Students are provided with tuition fees, dormitory, and meal allowances of around 7.5 million won, but they have to pay for flight tickets, visa issuance fees, and travel costs themselves.

 

Why do students choose their particular university?

Students have several different reasons to choose Boston University, UC Berkeley, or the University of Cambridge for their summer exchange. Kim Hyejin, a senior who went to Boston University in 2019, wanted to attend the Study Abroad Program, so she chose Boston University to gain as many experiences as possible. Lee Minseo, a junior who chose UC Berkeley in summer 2021, told GISTNEWS that UC Berkeley was famous for business courses that met her interests. Choi Seungkyu, a junior who is going to UC Berkeley in the summer of 2022, mentioned that he wanted to take some astronomical courses that he could not at GIST. Moreover, the reputation of the school is another appealing factor for him.

 

Requirements for application

Officially, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply for the program. However, the minimum requirement may fluctuate depending on the number of applicants and the deviation of their GPA. Thus, the higher a student’s GPA, the better his or her chances of being selected. However, if students participate in some organizations like GISTNEWS, GISTHOUSE, etc., the GPA requirement would be lower. “In my case, I have a GPA of 4.01,” said Choi Seungkyu.

English requirements are another important factor in the application. Formally, students need TOIEC 785 or TOEFL 80 or above. “I spent about 1-2 months preparing for my English requirements, and, generally, this amount of time is enough for most students,” said Kim Hyejin. When asked about the English requirements, Kim Junghee said, “In my case, I got a TOEIC score of 885.” It is recommended that students take a TOEIC mock test by using the library’s website QUICK LINKS to start preparing.

 

Students prepared for their summer session

After being accepted, there are several things students should do to prepare for a memorable summer. First, students need to acquire a VISA and finish some other enrollment processes before going. Then, one month before departure, students will need to book flights. “As all students will do it together, you don’t have to worry,” said Kim Junghee. Moreover, all the interviewees suggested that participants should brush up on their English to freely join every activity with other students.

 

How does GIST differ from these colleges?

There are some differences between GIST and these colleges. When asked about the differences between schools, Kim Hyejin noticed that students’ attitudes in class are the only difference. “At Boston University, students actively asked questions, even though some questions seemed to be nonsense,” said Kim Hyejin.

At UC Berkeley, the proportion of female students is higher than at GIST. Moreover, there is a club fair every day, and students can enjoy picnics on the lawn. At the University of Cambridge, students can’t choose the class time. When students choose a subject, the time and other activities are automatically set up. Shin Youna added, “The biggest difference is that you can participate in various programs like boat rides, dance classes, or special lectures on your major.”

 

Life at different colleges

At Boston University, students can live in an international dormitory, and it is easy to find Asian dishes. Kim Junghee mentioned one Korean restaurant, which was one block away from the dorm, and some nearby Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants. While living there, students traveling a lot may spend around $2000 or else they may want to spend almost $400 each month. Additionally, it is easy to travel around Boston using public transportation. “Harvard and MIT are across the Charles River; the baseball stadium and Skywalk Observatory are right next to the dormitory,” said Kim Hyejin.

At UC Berkeley, it’s also convenient to use public transportation. Students can easily find Korean dishes like sundae gukbap or dak galbi. At Korean marts, students can find frozen dumplings, tteokbokki, and jjajangmyeon.

At the University of Cambridge, students can live in single rooms, and they will be supplied with towels and other amenities every day if necessary. Unfortunately, there aren’t many Korean restaurants there; instead, students can find Western, Japanese, or Vietnamese ones.

 

Students may face difficulties

However, students have to deal with some common problems. The first problem is jet lag and the time difference. Shin Youna told us, “I wasn’t feeling well for weeks because of the time difference. It was not easy to talk about my symptoms in foreign countries and buy medicine. It would be beneficial to bring some medicine.” Secondly, students are likely to have a lot of tests during the summer session. “We had three exams per class, which means we must take two tests every two weeks. But no worries; it is not that difficult unless you enroll in advanced-level courses,” said Kim Hyejin.

The Summer Exchange Program is a chance for every GIST student to experience a new environment that can benefit their future. Students are advised to brush up on their speaking skills and be open to brand new experiences to take the most of this opportunity. In summary, the Summer Exchange Program is about studying and having unforgettable memories abroad, so let’s enjoy both the courses and the journey.