I think people who opt to come to Korea to study should have the right expectations. They should know that people in Korea generally do not converse well in English. Therefore I think it is quite reasonable for them to be prepared to learn Korean before deciding to come here.
The steep learning curve for most of the freshmen courses is intimidating. Foreigners should accept that Koreans who got selected for KAIST have a very sound mathematical and science background. They can console themselves by knowing that major courses have a much more level playing field.
The culture of drinking. Although the saying ‘do what the romans do’ can be a helpful advice when living in a foreign land, I think people who have faith, beliefs or principles that restrict drinking should continue to abide by their restriction. No culture can ever replace faith, beliefs or principles. Try to be moderate in whatever you do.
Do not be shy to ask professors and TA’s for help if you have any questions. But keep in mind that professors are really busy, so time is very precious to them.
For studying Korean, I do not recommend just learning everything from the textbook because most of them just teach you a mechanical, boring Korean. Instead, you can learn by watching dramas and speaking to your Korean friends.
Be yourself. Never give in to peer pressure. And if you’re one of the geniuses who get very high GPA, please do not pressure your peers by showing off your high GPA.
You should suppress your urge to take too many credits. I recommend having the first year focused on extracurricular activities and learning Korean.
Health care is well provided.
Classes differ, some are amazing, some are demanding and confusing.
Have things planned out. Never cram. Prepare for sleep deprivation.
Take social classes to ease out the schedule. Less Facebook. More exercise. Save time on things you don’t really need to do for sleep and health care.
GPA, for most, will be disappointing in comparison with high school records, but with time you’ll get used to it and figure out the courses that you should take and the amount of workload you can handle to yield best results. Freshmen won’t see peer pressure too often. But it does get more and more common once you join major classes. Find a buddy who isn’t too competitive in the class.
There are shows and musical performances all year round. Clubs for international students aren’t that plentiful but I would recommend KISA and The KAIST Herald. For other clubs, it’s best if you are at least at Korean Intermediate II when you join. Korean students are not very fond of speaking English.
My challenge was English lectures, because I had never used English before I came to Korea. So I ended up reading the textbooks on my own after the classes.
Make friends with your classmates, both international and Korean.
For freshman year, TA’s are usually helpful, but later on, most of TAs don’t help you a lot.
Don’t be stressed. Everything is going to be fine. Studying is not everything in your life 😉
You should not take the pressure from your friends. Just try to learn the material to be master at your field.
If possible, you should attend a club: you can get to know more friends.
Do not skip meals and do not think about the strange taste or smell! The main objective behind eating is to get energy to fulfill the task for which you are here!
For each and every class try to do some self-study in advance, especially for basic courses like calculus, physics and chemistry for a start! Ask TA’s all the doubts that you have!
Try to study Korean all the time that you get free from your work.
Be consistent in working every single day of the semester. Work hard so that you don’t blame yourself later on and improve on the areas where you went wrong!
Do not listen to other students’ comments about how difficult it is to get high GPA! You should work hard and study for yourself! Results will follow! Try to make yourself active in sports and club activities which divert your attention from the day to day peer pressure.