I figured I should at least talk about the courses I’m taking this semester briefly. I of course cannot draw any general conclusions here, just stating my observations.
Students can apply to Chung Ang University both as undergraduates, as well as graduate students. The situation for graduate students is a bit confusing. It appears that they can only attend the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS), so that limits the number of available courses. At least that was the case for me, don’t take my word for it. As a graduate student, you are allowed to take 6-9 credits worth of graduate courses, as well as an additional 6 undergrad credits. This translates to 12-18 ECTS for graduate and 12 for undergrad. So I guess it is possible to go for the full 30 ECTS that are normally recommended per semester. However, at least for my home university, I can only get accreditation for graduate courses. Then again, I don’t want to travel all the way to Korea to spend all my time studying. So this arrangement works out quite well for me.
Wikipedia tells me that International Studies is about ‘the major political, economic, social, and cultural issues that dominate the international agenda’, so that does not really align all that closely with my major (Information Systems). CAU does not seem to offer any courses in that realm at all. However, I was able to get my courses accredited as economics electives, so it’s all good.
The courses here (again, I can only speak about the ones I took) feel more like high school courses than the university courses I am used to. Attendance is required (you can miss up to three classes I think), there is regular homework, and so on. There is also much less emphasis on final written exams, which is a nice shift as you have to do a little bit of work throughout the semester instead of having to cram it all into the last few weeks. The final grade is made up of a bunch of components. To give an example:
- 10% attendance
- 10% participation
- 30% (group) presentation
- 20% midterm
- 30% final
There a midterm exams, which I assume can be quite stressful if you take a bunch of courses. Some Korean students I talked to seemed to basically have to study 24/7 during that period. However, I got very lucky as I only had to write a single written exam during the two-week midterm period (I have one more midterm test upcoming two weeks after the end of the midterm period because….reasons). For the other courses, presentations and essays take the role of the midterm.
There is also no second exam period at the end of the semester break like I’m used to in Germany.
The courses itself are…again, I can only speak from my personal experience, but they are not difficult*. Honestly, they seem more like high school courses. One page essays, presentations on Asian countries that take quite a bit of work but are basically just about reading a bunch of Wikipedia articles, and so on. One professor argued that his economics course required a ton of prior knowledge, but then started the first lecture explaing what markets and the supply and demand curves are. So…yeah. Almost seemed like he wanted to get rid of the students, as he completely changed his approach afterwards and constantly reassured the ones that stuck around. All my professors speak decent English.
I’m not even gonna pretend that the courses played a big role in my decision to join this university, so yeah…it is what it is.
*Well, there is the Korean course that I gave up on because I guess I’m just completely unable and (mostly, let’s be honest here) unwilling to learn a new language. So yeah, that one’s on me.