5 Big Reasons to Study Abroad in Busan, South Korea

By Sarah Warren, ISA Program Advisor

Picking a program can be difficult, and everyone who thinks of South Korea usually thinks of the city of Seoul first. But ISA offers a new program in the southern coastal city of Busan, and we’re the only US provider that offers programs there. Check out our list of great reasons to consider studying abroad with us in Busan!


1) Location, Location, Location

Busan is in the south of the country, and it’s right on the ocean. This means there are plenty of beaches to relax on after a long day in class! The water is crystal clear and an unbelievable shade of blue, so you’ll never want to leave. There are also lots of docks and ferries to other places (like one that goes to Fukuoka, Japan if you’re interested in traveling!).

Being in the south also gives you great access to some ‘off the beaten path’ places for you to explore. You’ll definitely want to camp out on Geoje Island, watch some bull fighting in Namhae, and go island-hopping around Yeosu. The islands near Busan are actually one of the top vacation destinations for native Koreans, so you won’t regret spending some free time exploring the area. The views are always Instagram-worthy!

After class, kick back and relax on the many beaches in Busan!

2) Experience Authentic Korea

Seoul is known as an international hub nowadays, and this can make it more difficult to find spots that are truly authentic if you’re looking to explore Korean culture. Busan is still a big city, but it holds on more to the spirit of Korea than ever-changing Seoul.

There’s so much history to explore in Busan that you might not know where to start. Gyeongju, the former capital city, is nearby with great public transportation to and from. ISA offers an excursion to the city during semester programs, so you’ll want to join in!

Haedong Yonggung Temple is close as well, and you won’t want to miss seeing the beautiful cliffside temple. The traditional Korean architecture is a sight all on its own, but the peace of the temple will make you want to come back. You might even get to see the monks working during your visit!

Haedong Yonggung Temple, picture taken by ISA alum Minting Xu.

If you’re looking for a more modern spot while abroad, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that many K-pop idols are from Busan. BTS, CNBLUE, and INFINITE all have members who are from Busan—maybe you’ll spot them around town!

3) Expand Your Korean Language Skills

Whether you take language courses in Seoul or Busan, you’ll be learning standard Korean from any university. Studying abroad in Busan will allow you to not only learn standard Korean in class at Pusan National University, but you’ll be able to pick up the local lingo and start to speak like the natives in the area. You might be surprised at how much you can learn just by going out and talking with locals!

Even just ordering food in Korean can help you learn the lingo!

4) You’re Already Getting the Seoul Experience, Too

When you fly into South Korea for any ISA program, you’ll fly into the Seoul airport. The orientation and Bridging Cultures Program in the first days that you’re abroad will happen in Seoul as well, so you’ll get a comprehensive introduction to the city and culture before you take a train down to Busan for the semester.

You can always visit Seoul on your own as well! South Korea is a small country with plenty of public transportation, so you can easily take a train or bus up to Seoul for the weekend!

5) Stay within Budget in Busan

Last but definitely not least, we all know money is one of the biggest factors in choosing a study abroad program. While all programs in South Korea are on the more affordable end, the semester programs in Busan are considerably cheaper than those in Seoul. Busan is also the only spot in all of Asia that offers a meal plan, so you’re saving even more money by having some meals included!

What hidden gems will you find in Busan?

Applications for summer and semester programs in Busan are now available!

The world awaits… discover it.

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