Knowing very little about South Korea didn't deter CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury) student Taylor Coulthard from accepting a study scholarship there in 2014; in fact, it added a real element of excitement. "I've travelled extensively through south east Asia but not to Korea so that really added to its appeal," he says.
Taylor was studying towards the Bachelor of Applied Management when he was offered the semester-long scholarship at Chungnam National University in Daejeon.
"I'm passionate about travelling and experiencing other cultures so being able to travel and study at the same time was a win/win situation. These kinds of opportunities are invaluable for self-development, broadening the mind and overcoming challenges. It's inevitable that you'll grow from such an experience."
Taylor says it was the people he met that made his exchange so rewarding. "They became very good friends in a short period of time. Also the tutors were very hospitable to us as international students and they were interested in our culture and point of view."
The Korean style of teaching was a new experience for Taylor. "It's very different to what I'm used to. In some classes it was 'sit down and listen' while the teacher tells you the information and you don't really question what they're saying. But other classes, especially those with lots of international students, were highly interactive with few barriers between tutor and student."
Taylor discovered that the area around the university had lots of good eateries and bars, but the area's main attractions were in the capital, Seoul, just an hour away by train. "Seoul is relatively cheap and it was easy to get to from Deajeon. It's become one of my favourite cities."
His advice to other students considering an international exchange is emphatic. "If you're looking for a change and to open your eyes then do it, you'll have no regrets. Just go with an open mind and go with the flow."
Taylor says his exchange has had many benefits. "It was a life-changing experience and invaluable to my self-development. I proved that I could cope out of my comfort zone. If you've done an exchange it shows employers that you aren't afraid of a challenge. It's a great competitive advantage."