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Culture Corner

Currency

The Korean currency is the won (₩ or KRW), with $1.00 being equivalent to about ₩1,138.23. There are ₩1, ₩5, ₩10, ₩50, ₩100, ₩500 coins and ₩1,000, ₩5,000, ₩10,000, ₩50,000 bills. ₩1 and ₩5 coins are rare, and almost all prices are rounded to the nearest ₩10.

Conversion Rates

photo by: Karl Baron
photo by: Karl Baron
The won fluctuates as with most currencies, so it is always a good idea to check the current rate from time to time. As of this publication 1.0 US dollar = 1,150 korean won. For current exchange rate information, visit www.oanda.com.

Cost of Living

While the cost of living in Seoul can be much lower than the U.S. please keep in mind that there are places to dine and shop that are comparable to those costs of living in the U.S.

Budgeting
Due to the change in exchange rates and vast differences in individual spending habits, we can only give you estimated figures. However, most students seem to spend around $250 per week. This figure does not include extra traveling, heavy shopping, or frequent restaurant dining. Please keep in mind that some students spend less and others spend more.When budgeting, keep in mind that it is always better to overestimate than to underestimate. To give you an idea of common approximate expenses and commodities a typical student will incur, please see the brief list below.

  • Public Transportation: $9-20/week (round trip metro with one destination costs $3)
  • Groceries: $40/week
  • Dining Out: $70/week
  • Local Calls: $5-10
  • International Calls: $10-20
  • Cafés/Coffee: $5-10/cup
  • Nightlife: $10-50
  • Entertainment: $7-10/event
  • Travel/Hostel/Hotel: $20-100/night
  • Laundry: $0-20/month
  • Gym Membership: $10/month

Additional Estimated Expenses

The ISA program cost includes items such as tuition and fees, housing, insurance, and more. To view what is included in your program price, please visit the "What's Included" section of the ISA Seoul program page.

The "Additional Estimated Expenses" sheet in the "Accepted Students" section of the ISA website has the following estimated expenses listed:

  • Airfare
  • Books & Supplies
  • Meals
  • Visas/Passports
  • Passport (new/renewal)
  • Student Visa
  • Personal Travel

ISIC Card

It is recommended that students look into purchasing an ISIC card for their studies in Seoul. The ISIC card is an internationally recognized student ID card that gives students thousands of discounts worldwide from travel to cinema, meals and more. While you will likely have a student ID from your host university abroad, it may not grant you discounts that an ISIC card could. You will likely be able to purchase an ISIC card abroad, but it is most convenient to purchase this card BEFORE you arrive, as it may grant you travel discounts, and you won't have to deal with the hassle of international delivery. To find out how to get an ISIC card, visit www.isic.org. Once there, you can find information on discounts in Paris, and what is needed to obtain an ISIC card.