Going Abroad

Beatriz Costeira

Head of IBC’s R&D Department

28 de Abril 2023

"From Portugal to South Korea, and from South Korea to the world."

Almost every student aspires to go abroad for a semester or even an year, whether it is in the country next door or on the other side of the world. For me, deciding when and where to go was a challenge. With Covid-19 hitting during my senior year of the bachelors, my first expectations of going abroad dissipated as I wanted to live the experience to the fullest, without restrictions. It was the best decision I made. Now I am doing my last semester in Daejeon, South Korea, in Solbridge International School of Business as an exchange student and I am sharing my experience so far, so that others can find the courage to get out of their comfort zone and explore the opportunities they may have in every corner of the world.
As my first option, my mind was already set on coming here during this specific semester, since I am only focusing on my master’s thesis and don’t have to worry about class accreditation in ISEG. However, it was required for me to apply for three classes during the Spring Semester. Although I don’t need approval in all of them, it has been an enriching experience. I am learning new perspectives about matters that I have been hearing about for the past two years and I can confidently say that I consider my curriculum even more complete.
Being a fast-paced society, everything happens faster than we want it to. With classes almost ending and a lot of trips planned for the next two months, I can already miss this country and all the good friends I made here. From trying new foods, living a new culture, experiencing the good and the bad of being a foreigner in a completely different country, I am going home wiser and much more aware of how cultural differences affect everything we do in our daily lives and we need to be resilient and flexible enough to adapt and respect the people around us. The major challenge here is the language barrier and the bureaucracy around insurances and immigration matters like housing, residency, banking and communications as it requires a lot of paperwork. Regardless, my experience went smoothly.
In terms of living expenses, it is similar to Portugal and even cheaper sometimes. I can have a good meal for under 5€ and in the dormitory we have the right to one free meal a day, it being breakfast, lunch or dinner. For me, particularly, food is the hardest, not because it is not good, but because I can not handle spice and everything is at least a bit spicy. Besides that, experiencing new flavors and combinations has been one of the best things here. Transportation can be more expensive than in Lisbon as they do not offer monthly plans. Every trip is around 0,85€ and we get a 30 minute period to transfer buses or trains without paying for another trip, but if we use public transportation a lot, we end up spending a little bit more than back home. From “noraebang”, the famous karaoke rooms, PC rooms, an extremely long list of cafes and pastries, to amusement parks, biking everywhere, and even find new places just because I got lost, all of these are worth the effort and the hard work that I made to prepare for this adventure.
With the weather getting better and classes ending, I have also been planning a lot of trips within the country and to Japan and Thailand. Sightseeing, hiking, seeing the ocean and visiting historical places are all things not to miss here. And, of course, taking the opportunity to visit nearby countries.

It has been an overwhelming and delightful experience and I advise anyone who is doubtful about going abroad to take the opportunity. It’s not just enriching for our personal growth but for our curriculum as well. In the connected world we live in right now, learning how to adapt to different cultures is essential to be successful in any path we choose for our futures. Taking a semester or year abroad is one of the best options for going out of our comfort zone and living life to the fullest, being able to learn new things at the same time we have fun and meet extraordinary new people from all over the world. If life allows it, I will definitely come back.

From Portugal to Korea, and from Korea to the world. I will leave this country richer in knowledge, culture, and with friends for life.