Most people have probably seen American college life in TV dramas or movies. It looks like a dream. Campus has a free, bright atmosphere, a fresh lawn, and wonderful, classical buildings. People have probably dreamed of living that life at least once, but many people may not have even tried to go to a U.S. college for many reasons. However, students from the University of Seoul (UOS) can enjoy this life more easily through our exchange programs. Here is an American university that you might consider: The University of Iowa.
▲ Homecoming Parade
The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, Iowa, the United States. It is in the Midwest of the United States and close to Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1847 and is the oldest public university in Iowa. It is also the second largest university in the state. Among American universities, the University of Iowa was the first public university to open as coeducational, and it was the first university to officially recognize an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) student organization. In addition, it was the first university to use television in education, in 1932, and it has the largest library in the state, with four different specialized libraries. This university has few exchange students, but there are many Asians, especially Chinese. That is because there are many students studying abroad. However, about 90 percent of students are white.
1. Application to the University of Iowa
Students can apply to enter the University of Iowa if they have higher than 80 points on the TOEFL Internet-based Test (TOEFL IBT) and higher than 17 points on a TOEFL Subscore. The cost is 5 million KRW per semester, including dormitory and meal tickets for five meals per week. If you only want to use the dormitory, but no meals, it is 4 million KRW per semester. Other costs amount to about 400,000 KRW a month.
2. Introduction to scholarship
The UOS Times featured an article about the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) in the last issue. In addition to the support provided by UOS for exchange students, there are other programs providing assistance for costs. One of these is the Mirae Asset Scholarship. This Scholarship aims to provide more opportunities for Korean students to participate in exchange programs, helping them to find wider academic and cultural experience. The conditions of applying for this scholarship include a grade point average (GPA) higher than 3.3, and less than eight income quintiles . There are about 300 students who receive scholarships every semester. There are no restrictions on universities, countries, or majors. The scholarship provides 7 million KRW for students going to the Americas, Europe and other regions, and 5 million KRW for students going to Asian regions.
▲ On Iowa event for transfer student and fresh men
3. School life
Students at the University of Iowa are generally individualistic. Unlike Korea, there are no club rooms, and there are no official after-parties. These cultural differences provide some benefits, but also some challenges, for Korean students. Seo Jae-won (Dept. of Mechanical and Information Engineering, ’14) majored in liberal arts. He provided some examples of these experiences. Recalling one experience, Seo said there was a team project in his major class, in which students designed cars given by a company.
“I was able to accumulate practical experience while doing this team project,” Seo said. Seo later took an acting class, but his experience was more challenging. In one assignment, he had to watch two English plays and report on them, which he found quite difficult.
As for campus living, the dorms at the University of Iowa are isolated from the campus, and students can choose between single rooms that live without roommates and double rooms that live with roommates . Double rooms are cheaper than single because students share a living room and kitchen with roommates
4. Life off Campus
A college town surrounds the University of Iowa, and the area just beyond is an agricultural region, with many cornfields. There are restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and Korean stores in the campus town where students enjoy their free time. Farther afield, it takes four hours by bus from the university to Chicago, with many famous sites such as Willis Tower, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and Cloud Gate. Students often go to Chicago for sightseeing on weekends.
Advice and Tips
▲ Iowa river
Seo recommended going to the University of Iowa in the fall semester. If you start in the fall semester, you can finish the semester before the cold winter starts. The state of Iowa has very cold weather that easily falls below minus 20 to 30 degrees Celsius in the winter, and it would be better to avoid it. He also said it is good for men to bring clothes from Korea because there are not many good places to buy men’s clothes, except training suits and hoodies. In addition, the Internet speed is rather slow, and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) does not work well in most buildings. He recommended the telecommunications company AT&T rather than T-Mobile.
Also, Seo strongly recommended joining OASIS, the club for foreign students. He said he had good opportunities to make friends in OASIS. For those who are religious, Seo recommends attending a local church. “Church people are very kind, so it is easy to make good friends,” he said. Finally, Seo said the most important thing is to take an active attitude toward meeting people. It is necessary to search for clubs or meetings for foreign students through the university homepage actively. When you make friends, you should do good things such as celebrating birthdays or giving consolation.
The UOS Times hopes that if you choose the University of Iowa for your exchange experience, this advice will help you to have a wonderful school life.