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Is studying in Korea stressful?


Studying in Korea has become an attractive option for many international students due to the country’s reputation for excellence in education. However, with the rigorous academic standards and cultural differences, there are questions about whether studying in Korea is stressful or not. This article will explore the stressors that international students may face when studying in Korea.

The Education System in Korea

The education system in Korea is highly competitive and demanding, with a focus on academic achievement. Students are expected to study long hours and attend private academies after school to stay ahead of their peers. This intense pressure can be overwhelming for international students who are not used to this style of education.

The Language Barrier

Korean is the primary language used in classrooms, and many international students may struggle to understand lectures or communicate with professors and classmates. This language barrier can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration, making the already demanding coursework even more stressful.

Cultural Differences

Korea has a unique culture that international students may find challenging to adapt to. The strict hierarchy, respect for authority, and collectivist values can clash with the individualistic cultures of some international students. This cultural shock can lead to stress and homesickness.

Financial Burdens

Studying abroad in Korea can be expensive, with high tuition fees, living expenses, and additional costs such as language classes or visa fees. International students may struggle to cover these expenses, leading to financial stress and anxiety.

Adjusting to Campus Life

International students may struggle to adjust to campus life in Korea, including finding housing, making friends, and navigating the campus environment. These challenges can be stressful and overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the country.

Pressure from Family Expectations

Many international students come to Korea to meet their family’s expectations of academic success or to fulfill cultural obligations. This pressure to perform well can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Work-Life Balance

Korean students are known for their dedication to academics, often sacrificing their social lives and hobbies for studying. International students may feel pressured to follow this same work ethic, leading to a lack of work-life balance and increased stress.


Despite efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, some international students in Korea may experience discrimination or racism. This can lead to feelings of isolation, fear, and stress.

Mental Health Resources

International students in Korea may struggle to find mental health resources that cater to their needs. The stigma surrounding mental health can make it difficult for students to seek help, leading to untreated stress and anxiety.

The Importance of Self-Care

To mitigate the stressors of studying in Korea, international students need to prioritize self-care. This includes getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food, as well as seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals.


Studying abroad in Korea can be a challenging but rewarding experience for international students. However, the stressors associated with the education system, language barriers, cultural differences, financial burdens, and discrimination can make it a stressful experience. By prioritizing self-care and seeking support when needed, international students can overcome these challenges and thrive academically and personally.

How stressful is Korean education?

In South Korea’s rigorous academic culture, students face high levels of stress which reaches its peak during the last year of high school as they prepare for the college entrance exam.

Why is South Korean education so stressful?

In the Korean education system, it’s unfortunate that children and teenagers spend a significant amount of time studying, leaving little time for leisure, relaxation, vacations, or pursuing non-school related interests. It’s not uncommon for some students to study up to 18 hours a day.

Is study hard in South Korea?

South Korea’s education system is renowned for producing high-achieving students, but it is also very rigorous. Students typically spend the majority of their day, sometimes up to 16 hours, either at school or at a supplementary after-school program known as a hagwon.

What are the disadvantages of studying in Korea?

Getting into a class can be very challenging due to the high number of students interested in it. The competition is fierce, and many students end up on the waitlist only to eventually be dropped. As a foreign student in a Korean university, enrolling in a specific subject may prove to be difficult.

Why do South Koreans study hard?

In South Korea, expectations for students are always high due to the close-knit family structures and the diligent work ethic of the culture. From a young age, students are expected to excel academically. The school system requires students to spend a significant portion of their day in classes.

Which country has the most stressful education system?

Countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are known for their strong education systems, but when it comes to the most challenging mathematics, China and South Korea are among the top performers.

Support Systems for International Students in Korea

Fortunately, many universities in Korea provide support systems for international students. These include language classes, cultural exchange programs, and mentorship programs to help students adjust to campus life and the Korean culture. Additionally, many universities have counseling services that provide mental health support for students.

The Importance of Seeking Help

International students should not hesitate to seek help when they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Many universities have counseling services available to students, and there are also resources available outside of the university, such as mental health clinics and hotlines. It is important for students to know that seeking help is a sign of strength and that there is no shame in needing support.

The Benefits of Studying Abroad in Korea

Despite the challenges, studying abroad in Korea can be an incredibly rewarding experience for international students. It provides the opportunity to learn about a new culture, develop language skills, and gain a unique perspective on the world. Additionally, the education system in Korea is highly respected globally, which can be beneficial for future career opportunities.


Studying in Korea as an international student can be stressful due to the rigorous academic standards, cultural differences, language barriers, financial burdens, and other challenges. However, by prioritizing self-care and seeking support from available resources, students can overcome these challenges and thrive academically and personally. Studying abroad in Korea provides a unique opportunity for personal growth and academic achievement that is worth pursuing despite the potential stressors.

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