Gap year report, Philippe Schmitt

Gap year report - Philippe S

 What did you do during your gap year ?

During my gap year I studied in Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, from September 2018 to June 2019. I took courses in economics and ecology, econometrics, Korean economy and Korean.

What did you personally learn from this experience ?

I chose this university – which does not have any partnership with TSE – because I have been attracted by Korean culture for several years. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and I loved that sensation. The mentality, the food, the customs, the architecture: everything was different, yet so pleasant. I struggled to make some Korean friends, as most of them do not feel comfortable with English. You really have to get involved in clubs or associations to meet the locals. Still, people are very friendly and respectful, so it was not hard to get used to the place. Learning a new language and living alone was a way to challenge myself, and in the end I won the day. Most of the time I felt comfortable in class thanks to my background in economics that I got from studying at TSE. Moreover courses like econometrics at Yonsei University helped me to begin serenely my M2 EEE, as we had lessons on time-series.

Did you do your gap year after your L3 or between your M1 and your M2 ? Why ?

I did my gap year after my M1. I arrived at TSE in L3, and initially planned to do a gap year straight after my bachelor. Unfortunately, it did not go as I planned, and I decided to get enrolled into the M1 at TSE and get some time to decide what I really wanted to do if I were to do a gap year. In the end I decided to apply on my own for this university in April and was accepted in June. I had the summer to fulfill all the administrative requirements and to prepare for my trip.

Would you have recommendations / advice to give to TSE students ?

I would definitely recommend to do a gap year if this is a dear project to you. It changed my way of thinking, my way of working, and it made me think more about the system I am living in. Being part of a minority was also a good experience, as there are very few foreigners in South Korea. I realised it was important to make a good impression, as I was one of the few strangers that most Korean would meet. South Korea was new to me and living there was a great experience. Cost of living was surprisingly cheaper than what I expected, and the administrative procedures – applying to the university, getting a VISA, … – was quite easy in the end. However, South Korea is not the most vegetarian-friendly country I have been to. But if it is not an issue for you, South Korea might be the right place for you!