Experience South Korea’s culture, visit national parks and Buddhist temples, and learn about peacemaking efforts on this high school summer abroad program.
Journey through Korea’s past and present during a summer of peace studies and cultural immersion. The program’s different components and travel to different regions provide you with diverse perspectives on contemporary life in Korea and the country’s ongoing challenges related to peace and development. Deepen your knowledge of Korea’s sociopolitical development by engaging with historians, economists, and prominent members of civil society.
Throughout the program, you are immersed in South Korean contemporary life and culture. Following the multiday orientation in Seoul—the country’s political, economic, and cultural center—live with a Korean host family in Jeonju, participating in their daily activities. Learn about religious traditions and the art of meditation alongside Buddhist monks during the program’s temple stay. Near the end of the program, experience the beautiful landscapes, coastal towns, and national parks of mountainous Gangwon province during an exploration of the country’s northeast.
The program includes formal Korean language instruction, visits to important historical and cultural sites such as palaces and museums, a community service project arranged by a local organization, and numerous opportunities to experience Korean food and popular culture.
Orientation in Seoul
- Learn about the history and culture of South Korea and about its relations with North Korea
- Get to know other members of your group during activities and group discussions
- Visit famous sites and museums throughout the city
- Explore diverse neighborhoods and sample Korean cuisine
- Begin survival Korean language lessons and practice your skills with Korean university students
- Visit the DMZ, watch films about the history of the social-political development of the country, and engage in discussions with local historians
- Explore the city with South Korean university students studying North and South Korean relations
- Participate in community service projects such as volunteering at a soup kitchen that serves the elderly
During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located guest house.
Buddhist Temple Stay
- Learn about Buddhism and Buddhist religious traditions
- Live, work, and meditate with the temple’s monks
During this period, you and your group will stay at a Buddhist temple.
- Become fully immersed in the daily life of a Korean family and community
- Do activities with your host family
- Explore your host community and the surrounding area with your group
- Participate in cultural activities to learn more about Korean culture and traditions
- Spend a day at Korea’s famous Mud Festival
During this period, you will stay in the home of a family. Sample host communities: Seongnam, Jeonju, Hwacheon
Excursion to Busan
- Enjoy a traditional Korean barbeque
- Picnic and swim at the beach
- Meet with Korean students at a local youth camp and do a scavenger hunt with them around Busan
During this period, you and your group will stay in hotels.
Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Seoul
Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
- During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hostel.
About The Experiment
The Experiment in International Living is a nonprofit organization that has been offering immersive experiential learning programs abroad since 1932. Today, The Experiment offers three-, four-, and five-week summer programs for high school students in more than 20 countries around the world.
Programs are designed to equip participants not only with essential cultural skills and, in many cases, language skills, but also with a deeper awareness of and sensitivity to critical global issues shaping the diverse communities and regions we visit. Each year, hundreds of Experimenters come away from their summer abroad with invaluable new skills, connections, awareness, and knowledge that help them to thrive—and lead—in diverse, intercultural environments.
The Experiment is committed to providing participants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds with access to The Experiment’s immersive cross-cultural programs through its partnerships, scholarships, and other initiatives.
The Experiment places the highest priority on health, safety, and security. Each program follows a comprehensive structure designed to maximize the well-being of all participants while they engage in dynamic cross-cultural experiences. We have implemented specific risk management strategies that include a 24-hour emergency on-call service and regular safety reviews. We hire and train experienced adult group leaders and maintain longstanding partnerships with in-country offices to support each of our programs.
1 Participant ReviewWrite a Review
Overall Experience: Okay. I am half- Korean and expected to experience better food than in the States, learn some Korean, make some Korean friends, and really gain independence and explore South Korea. However, the food was okay (we went to the cheapest places for the budget - disappointing especially if you are paying the full price), we only had one Korean class that basically told us the translations of phrases rather than teaching us how to form and understand basic sentences and tenses, I made about two Korean friends and that was only because I met them by chance and outside of the program, and no one was allowed to walk a block alone despite how safe Korea is (being from NYC). When I was with my mom's family in Korea, the Korean group leader called me every hour because she didn't "find being with my blood-related family" safe enough without checking in. The plus of the program was that I experienced some new things (Buddhist temple, I can only think of about one) and made more friends (but they were all from the group). Do not go on this program if you want to be more independent and explore on your own, meet Korean people and truly experience the culture (not have a tourist experience), and learn the language; Instead, I would suggest doing a university program on the Korean language. Academics: The Academics were boring and remedial. We had two full days in a classroom while in Seoul; something we could have done online before the program in order to avoid wasting such precious time. We learned about the definition of "peace" and "social justice" for an hour each day. Let this sink in-- a full hour for a simple definition we learn in elementary or middle school. Then the speakers were all one-sided; the program did not provide two perspectives (very anti-America). Furthermore, as previously mentioned, we did the Korean class for half an hour and only learned phrases to memorize. I had thought I would learn Korean from speaking with Koreans and taking actual lessons on grammar and structure and verbs, etc. but all I spoke was English and only know a few new words. Living Situation: The living situations were not bad; the hostel was modern and clean. The Center for Reunification was nice (dorm-style) and the Buddhist temple as well. The stay in Gwanju was interesting (traditional house). However, the hostel only had 2 bathrooms for around 20 of us, the Center of Reunification was filled with bugs and we were not allowed outside after dark "because of wild animals" although in a lit, building-filled complex (I live in Westchester; we have coyotes here and we still go out after dark), the Buddhist temple monk controlled every aspect of our lives (we had no freedom), and the traditional house in Gwanju had all the girls in one room (about 17 of us) and only one bathroom for the twenty of us. I was sick during the latter half of the trip and couldn't sleep when the rest of the people came back from restaurant and turned the lights on, stepped on me (we were sleeping on mats on the floor), and talked very loudly. Cultural Immersion: Very little cultural immersion. I guess my anyeong-haseyo skills have been refined and I now know mashi-seyo. However, I didn't learn really any of the language, the food was blah, and I interacted with very few Koreans besides the group leaders. Health & Safety: Very safe if you want to be prevented from walking to the cafe next door or the laundromat down the street. However, I got food poisoning and suffered for the majority of the trip (not very safe as we should be eating at clean places not just the cheapest ones). Program Administration: Ok. The American group leaders were very nice but one main Korean group leader was very controlling. She had everything planned out, we could make no choices (restaurants, going out), and had very little freedom (she barely let me visit my blood-related family). Social Life: Only could go out some nights in groups of 3+ and had very early curfew. Didn't meet any Koreans, only fellow group members.
Response from Experiment in International Living: South Korea - Peacebuilding & Modern Culture:
Thanks for your review of The Experiment in International Living's Korea program. I’m sorry you had a bad experience. We’ve been around for 83 years, serving hundreds of students every summer, and we always strive to provide the best possible experience for our participants. We will take this feedback into consideration as we plan next summer's Korea program. -The Experiment in International Living Team