Students abroad: One semester at Hongik University, South Korea

Traditional Korean Painting Workshop (Photo: Zoya Schwenkbeck)

Our student Zoya Schwenkbeck spent a semester at our partner university in South Korea, Hongik University. Zoya planned early on that she would like to spend a semester abroad. Through Incomings Students at Merz Akademie from our South Korean partner university and her fellow students who had already spent a semester abroad in South Korea, she learned a lot about Hongik University and the decision was made.

I prepared my portfolio and, with the support of the International Office, gathered all the necessary documents I needed to apply to Hongik University. Here, our International Office also made me aware of the Duo-Korea Fellowship Program, which I then immediately applied for and got!

Zoya describes her preparations and how it continued on site:

Before the semester started, I got a small campus tour from my buddy and was able to take a look at the campus and the dormitory, since you can only move in here shortly before the semester starts. The campus of Hongik University is a lot bigger than what I am used to at Merz Academy, but still everything is within walking distance.

The East Coast of South Korea (Photo: Zoya Schwenkbeck)

The campus of Hongik University is located in the Hongdae district, a well-known and very lively student neighborhood where, according to Zoya, there is a lot to discover, from restaurants to cafés to live busking in the evening, it’s all there. After Zoya was able to move into the dormitory shortly before the start of the semester, the first courses already started:

I took five courses in the Visual Communication Design Department during my semester abroad. Despite the workload, I am glad that I was able to learn a lot. Among other things, I took the Practice Design Studio course, which was about branding.

I also enjoyed the Design Research course. All students had to develop their own project and research it using different design methods. I dealt with the topic of sustainability and recycling and organized my own small upcycling workshop and then recorded the results of my investigation in a design paper.

In addition, Zoya is taking a course on “History of Korean Art,” among other things. All the courses our student attended were in English. Zoya was impressed by the constant helpfulness of professors and students.

Zoya Conclusion is:

My expectations of the semester abroad were exceeded and living and studying at Hongik University positively influenced and advanced me both personally and professionally. I was able to acquire new skills as well as further deepen previous skills and discover new approaches for my projects. The semester abroad also helped me to classify in which area I could see myself professionally in the future and it made me more self-confident.

Visit to a Korean temple (Photo: Zoya Schwenkbeck)


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