Sue in Seoul // Exchange programme application at Kookmin University

Hi guys,

In my first Sue in Seoul's post I announced that I will participate an exchange programme at Kookmin University in Seoul this Fall 2013! I will take Marketing and Business classes since I'm majoring in Marketing at my home university. Since I've told you about my begin story on 'Why study abroad', I would like to talk about the next step of my journey: how to apply for exchange programme at Kookmin University. 

International Relations Office
First of all the first step is to contact the International Relations Office or International Office (or any other department at your school that's in charge of international issues) at your home university. Exchange programme is basically sending students from one university to a partner university and also receive students from that partner university. That's why it is called ' exchange'. It also means that you don't have to pay college fee - you already paid it at your home university. You may need to pay for other expenses of course. In the Netherlands if you go abroad for an exchange programme it will be instead of your minor. Which is a regularly half year set of courses in the field of a specialism by your choice. Rotterdam University has a lot of different and really fun minors to choose from. If I didn't go abroad I would definitely choose the minor 'Concept and Retailing', because that has all to do with the brand, marketing strategy, retail and consumer behaviour which is totally the path that I want to go to when I graduate. But instead I want to go abroad for a more 'once in a lifetime' experience.  I'm sure almost all universities will definitely encourage students to go abroad (except for Hogeschool Utrecht haha, because my friend studies MER (Management, Economy and Law) there and she got really poor instructions and guidance regarding studying and graduating abroad.) Rotterdam University (Commercial Institution) is really really supportive and they will do everything and to help you as much as they can to send you abroad.

Anyways back to topic: the International Relations Office is the place to be regarding internship, study or graduate abroad. They are in charge of sending students abroad. They give lots of informations, invite students to go to their presentations, guide and support students. I will go more into exchange since that's what I'm going to do. My school has a list of all partner schools around the world. And per institution is different. For example the list of our Commercial Institution is really different from the Rotterdam Business School Institution. At COM Institution they have partner schools in North-America, South America, Europe, Asia, literally everywhere! But a pity is that COM doesn't have a lot of partner schools in the northern part of Asia, which I'm most interested in, for example Hong Kong or Japan.
(Fun fact: There wasn't a partner school at South-Korea on the list of COM back then. So that's why my top 3 picks were Canada, France and England. But at my intake interview I told the head of IRO that I originally really wanted to go to South-Korea but unfortunately they didn't had one for COM Institute. But then she told me that they do have one! One in Seoul and that there's been a new co-operation starting this year, Kookmin University. So I felt really really blessed that this opportunity came into my life. The timing was just so great (since everything went smoothly in my life regarding study and stuff) and really amazing that I'm the 'pioneer' of COM Institute for Kookmin University!)

At Rotterdam University there was a deadline for applying for study abroad. You just have to fill in a form to let them know your top 3 countries and have an interview with the head of IRO. They will talk about you why you want to go abroad, can you afford it financially, is it okay to be so long from home since you will live independently etc. After you've decided where you want to go, they will check if you have any study delay and might keep you on conditional terms. (I was on conditional terms. I had to catch up 4 subject from year 2. Hence my condition was to catch up 3 out of 4 subject. This was my ultimate motivation to study even harder! My grades were also awesome for these subjects ^^) 

North-Korea... South-Korea? 
If you have followed the news, there was growing tensions between North-Korea and South-Korea in the period of February till about May. For me it was really difficult and such a bummer that this happened while I needed to make a decision, hence it took weeks for me to decide whether to go to South-Korea or Canada (which was my second choice back then). I asked people around me for advice and what to do. Some that have (or their relatives) experiences in South-Korea said that it was 'bluffing' and that will be over. They say that South-Korean people live their lives like northing's happened. Some people who only read the media said it's dangerous, and the media did make it really worse. I didn't have a choice but to wait what can happen and check CNN every day. On the day I needed to give my final decision, which was Korea after all (it was one my dreams to visit and stay in Korea for several dreams. I just thought that I needed to grab this opportunity), the tensions were decreased and finally up to this day every thing's been okay, luckily! There were no any signs from the government that people couldn't go to South-Korea.

Okay country and university chosen, what now?
Based on the university's deadline you will be enrolled by your home university's (at Rotterdam University's case) International Office. In the meantime I was so freaking excited that I searched for anything related to Kookmin University, Seoul and exchange programme university. Like I've told in my other post: I coudn't find anything great about exchange at Kookmin University. On their site you can find basic information including an online brochure about their school and campus, but nothing about any experiences for exchange students unfortunately. I was so impatient, of course I want to receive more information as fast as possible.I did find some pdf documents regarding KMU's exchange programme. It were some forms and guidance documents for exchange students for last year. But you it's really about waiting for more information by KMU.

Exchange application at Kookmin University 
Soon after the IO enrolled me to KMU, I was sent a few pdf documents:
  1. Brief Introduction of Kookmin University
  2. Data Sheet on Kookmin University (start/end semester and exams)
  3. Exchange Application Form
  4. Statement of Purpose Form (your introduction and motivation to study at KMU)
  5. Exchange Student Guide
  6. Exchange Student Guide - Insurance 
  7. A list of courses taught in foreign languages and recommend for exchange students undergraduate Spring 2013.
First thing is to read all the information and fill in all the form you need to fill in. The things I needed to send to KMU were: application form of course, copy passport photo, statement of purpose and official transcript (for Design students you need to send your portfolio too). Everything can be send via e-mail, digitally. No need to send hardcopy forms by postal service. The contactperson at KMU's International Relations Office is Mr. Song. We talk in English and he is really kind! I think I emailed him too much and might be a burden to him but he replied very quickly and kindly. If you have send your application, it takes a few weeks to receive the original acceptance and admission letter for applying visa. It was send to my university and I just had to pick it up.

Next is to settle some other things such as your chosen set of courses, visa, travel insurance, scholarships etc and for the Netherlands the ' OV-vergoeding' and 'Uitwonende beurs' are very important. Let's discuss them one by one!

Chosen set of courses
Of course you need to choose what you are  going to study at your university abroad. Some universities have already a complete exchange programme courses, but most likely you will need to choose them yourself. At KMU you will get a list in Excel document which contains all recommend exchange student/undergraduate courses. This is a very wide list of courses from arts to design to engineering to culture and compared to the whole list a small section for Business. My deadline for this is 8 July, but I'm writing this on 1 July and I'm still waiting for an updated list of courses for Fall 2013 to choose my courses from. I'm getting impatient and worried.. But hopefully everything will be all right!

I have never applied for a visa before so it was really a head ache. I need to apply for a visa myself, personally, without help from school. So I searched up the South-Korean embassy in the Netherlands, which I found out that it was in The Hague. I am applying for Visa D-2 Students. Here's the information that I got from Embassy of the Republic of Korea to the Kingdom of the Netherlands website:

Eligible Applicants
- Those seeking to earn a degree (bachelor's or higher) or conduct a specific study at a college, university / graduate school set up under a provision of the Education Law or at the educational facilities set up under a provision of the special law

Required Items
- Passport with remaining validity of at least 6 months
- One recent passport-type colour photo (with date stamp'; Photos must have been taken within the past 6 months)
- Completed visa application form

Document requirements according to the status 
♦ Those seeking high level education (bachelor, master, doctor)
- Standard admission letter (issuance from the chief dean of a university) specifying the screening decision of scholastic aptitude and finance capability
- Certificate of the latest scholastic achievement
- Certificate of bank balance

♦ Those seeking to engage in specific study
- A certificate of the latest scholastic achievement
- Reference or Documents that prove their financial capability (Reference not applicable for adopted children that had Korean nationality at birth)
  • Fee
    single entry under 90 days : 24(EUR)
    single entry over 90 days : 40(EUR)
    multiple entry : 64(EUR)
    free of charge :
    Diplomats(A-1) and Agreement(A-3)
    Citizens of Japan, Thailand, the Philippines(for stay in Korea under 59 days), Sweden, Spain and Italy do not need to pay a visa processing fee.
I'm not 100% sure but I think I need to apply for ' Those seeking high level education (bachelor, master, doctor), D2. I think that exchange programme is under this one. The standard admission letter is thus that admission letter I got from KMU. I also need to bring along a signed Visa Letter from the head of IRO. I am planning to go to the embassy when my stressful weeks including exams are over. Visa processing requires 5 working days, which I didn't expect to be so quickly!

Of course another importing thing are scholarships! Always nice to apply for one right? In the Netherlands they differentiate between Europe and outside of Europe. If you stay in Europe you can get the Erasmus Scholarship, which is around 200 EU per month! For students who goes outside of Europe, you can get a Explorer Scholarship at Rotterdam University which the amount is depending on the number of students. . They have basically a scholarship budget that they divide that amount by the number students that are going outside of Europe. So each year will be different. You will get this scholarship one time. Compared to the Erasmus Scholarship that's very little. But better than nothing right? You can also get scholarships outside your university. But I find those hard to find and hard to apply for.
Also I also read on the KMU website that every incoming exchange student will also get a KMU scholarship, which is 800,000 won (~ 520EU) per semester! 

Travel Insurance 
Health insurance is mandatory for all international sudents attending Kookmin University. There are two options available: 1. You can purchase an Overseas Student (travel) Insurance at home country or 2. You can purchase one at the International Student Health Insurance compulsorily in Korea which is approximately around 90~140EUR. I'm definitely going to purchase a travel insurance in the Netherlands, since that's much cheaper, around 50EUR.

From someone from the Netherlands going to South-Korea for more than a month you could get vaccinations to prevents from particularly sickness that might occur during your stay. There are websites that tell you which vaccinations you should get when you go to a particular country.  I'm still considering getting vaccinations. I just saw on the internet that the vaccinations I could get are quite pricey, around the 90EUR together. So I'm going to see of my insurance covers that up and otherwise I need to still think about it.

KMU has a very big campus and also a range of different campus facilities. There are two student on-campus dormitories, both only available for international students, one for boys and one for girls. If you want to apply for dormitory you can simply check the box on the application form for exchange student.
  • 4 students occupy 1 room (at first I was NOT okay with this. How can I share a room with 4 other strangers? But now I don't have a choice. I just hope that the room won't be fully occupied.)
  • air-conditioned & free internet access
  • separate shower and wasroom in each room
  • Fee during semester 537.600KRW ~ 350EUR
  • Fee during vacation 4,500 per day + deposit of 50.000KRW ~ 2,95EUR + 32EUR 
  • Blanket is not provided
You can also purchase a meal plan for 403,200KRW ~ 265EUR. I decided to not go for a meal plan because I would also like to eat and go out regularly. A friend of mine, who went to Korea for a year to study, strongly recommend me to stay at the campus's dormitory. Because you will get to know your peers better and hang out with them everyday. You can also rent a room outside campus for sure, but I don't know anything about that.

Going abroad is definitely not cheap. I am lucky that my father will pay for my flight tickets, but for living expenses I need to pay myself. I didn't saved up any money due personal reasons, so I'm quite troubled. Luckily in the Netherlands as a student you can get a loan at the government for a very low interest, which makes it attractive for students to loan. To sum it all scholarships and other allowances up, I would have around 458 per month + €520 and  Explorer Scholarship. While my costs will be one time €350(dormitory) + €1400(calculated living expenses by KMU per semester. My living expenses would be €350 a month. With the allowances I would cover it all up. But I think I still need to get a small loan in order to have a comfortable and fun stay.

OV-vergoeding en uitwonende beurs for Dutch students:
Als je naar het buitenland gaat in het kader van je studie, stage lopen, studeren of afstuderen, kan je in aanmerking komen voor een ov-vergoeding en uitwonende beurs(als je dat nog niet bent). Ik woon nog thuis, dus ik moet ze voor beide aanvragen. Dat gaat allebei via DUO. Je kan sowieso op de website van DUO alle informatie vinden. Maar zit je in dezelfde situatie als mij, dan moet je sowieso 2 formulieren invullen en opsturen naar DUO. Dit om de wijzigingen dat je naar het buitenland gaat door te geven. Er staat op de website dat je dat ook online kan doen, maar bij mij ging dat niet dus ik doe het gewoon per post. Je moet sowieso de OV-vergoeding aanvraagformulier en de Uitzondering inschrijving GBA (alleen voor studenten die nog thuis wonen).

Op de OV-vergoeding aanvraagformulier vul je gewoon al je gegevens in en daarna moet je een stempel van de school krijgen om aan te tonen dat je naar het buitenland gaat.  Bij Hogeschool Rotterdam is het zo dat je naar de Studenten Service Center op de locatie Museumpark moet gaan. Daar lever je je formulier in en binnen 5 werkdagen krijg je het per post thuis opgestuurd. Met dit formulier zet je je OV-studentenproduct op stop en vraag je je vergoeding aan. Deze vergoeding in 2013 is €98,79 per maand. Vergeet niet dat om je studentenreisproduct op stop te zetten via zo'n automaat voordat je weggaat en weer ophaalt bij terugkomst!

Het andere formulier, de Uitzondering inschrijving GBA vul je in om in aanmerking te kunnen komen voor de uitwonende beurs (dit formulier kan ook voor andere doeleinden zijn). Voor mensen die in het kader van de opleiding naar het buitenland gaan moet je op dit formulier niet je GBA-adres (waarop je ingeschreven staat) invullen ,maar het buitenlandse adres waarop je tijdens je verblijf woont. Hiermee toon je dus aan dat je nog thuis woont, maar naar het buitenland gaat voor een bepaalde periode en daarmee je uitwonende beurs wil ontvangen. Er zijn bepaalde voorwaarden, dus check het eerst. Zoals als je langer dan acht maanden naar het buitenland gaat dan moet je je wel uit het GBA bestand uitschrijven etc. De uitwonende beurs is in 2013 €272,46 per maand.

Daarnaast heb je nog een machtegingsformulier, met dit formulier geef je het recht aan iemand anders in Nederland om al jouw DUO zaken te mogen regelen. Ik ga dit niet doen, omdat mijn ouders niet zo goed Nederlands kunnen en ik blijf maar een half jaar weg. Mocht er bepaalde brieven komen dan vraag ik of ze foto's van deze brieven naar mij kunnen opsturen via Whatsapp en regel ik het verder digitaal of telefonisch.

NB: Dit is maar een kort verhaal in mijn eigen woorden over de DUO studenten buitenland zaken. Er staan op de DUO site alle informatie en voorwaarden die je zeker moet bekijken voordat je dingen gaat regelen. Sommige dingen zijn nog best opslachtig op de site, maar mocht je vragen hebben kan jouw school of andere studenten jou helpen!

Hope you guys enjoyed my detailed Kookmin University/Study Abroad post! ^^



  1. Hi, I'm Fae from Indonesia and I also just got accepted in Kookmin University Exchange Program for Fall Semester :)

    Well, from your post, you did mention that exchange students will get 800,000 won scholarship from KMU.. Wow is that true?? Have you ever got any confirmation from KMU regarding this?

    Thank you and see you there.. maybe? Hehe :)

  2. Hi!
    I'm only reading now this post about KMU. Like the first one, it is really helpful and interesting. Thanks for writing it!

    I will be in the dormitory and I'm also not very pleased to live with 4 total strangers. I'm used to share flat but not the same room x_x well, we'll see! I hope nobody will snore or anything aha
    I didn't know about the scholarship too. Thanks!

    Have a great day!



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