As your departure date draws near, you’re probably having a bunch of mixed emotions, excitement, nervousness maybe even sad. But whatever you’re feeling, do not fear! We complied some tips and suggestions so you guys are prepared when you arrive!
Leave room in your bag or bring an extra suitcase. When packing for your study abroad, no matter the length of your stay, always leave space in your bags for all the things you’ll buy and bring back after the end of your stay. Some people bring an extra suitcase or purchase one during their stay aboard. OPTIONAL: Pack your stuff in a duffel bag if possible. Your room is quite small so it might not have the capacity to store two suitcases. A duffel bag can be stored away in your closet or in your other suitcase until next use.
Pack only the toiletries that you need and can’t get in South Korea. The first thing that comes to mind is deodorant. Deodorant can be found here, but is usually expensive and probably will not carry your favorite brand. Other supplies like shampoo and conditioner can be brought here. South Korea is known for their high quality cosmetics, so you don’t have to worry about packing those.
Bring a winter jacket. South Korea is known for having very cold winters. If you are arriving in fall, in the beginning, it’ll still be hot and humid from the summer. You will experience the cold nearing the end of your stay. If you’re arriving in spring, you’ll experience it as soon as you step out of the airport. Korean summers are also very hot and humid.
Notify your bank that you’ll be traveling abroad. Some banks will allow you to do it online. If you do not notify your bank that you’ll be in a different country, they might block your account. Also, remember to check if your debit or credit card will work in South Korea. Some banks do not allow the usage of your card in specific countries due to security risks. OPTIONAL: It’s recommended to enroll in a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee if you do not already have one.
You should bring cash. You will need some during your first few weeks in South Korea. It’ll also come in handy in case of emergencies. During the first week of CAU, you will apply for a bank account with Woori bank. However, your card and the account will take time to arrive. If you do not bring cash, you’ll be living without money for a couple of weeks.
Wiring money is simple. After receiving your card and account, you will be allowed to wire money from your home bank. Wiring money can be done directly from your home bank account or other international money transferring services. Check the fee for each service and use whatever is cheapest and/or easiest for you. Sometimes it’s easier to just withdraw money from a Global ATM.
Adapt to the Culture
Independently research the area! In order to make it to a new country with little to no surprises, this is the most important step. Fortunately, because Korea is such a popular place for foreigners to travel, there are plenty of resources readily available. Blogs are a good place to start. YouTube channels are fun, easily digestible methods of information gathering. Additionally, there are a plethora of books available if you want in-depth information. Though it may seem like overkill, utilizing a variety of resources is the best way to get a well-rounded view of the country and culture. It is well worth the time investment to come to the country well rehearsed in cultural differences, norms, and basics, as it can save from trouble and embarrassment in the future.
Learn basic phrases, and if you have time, learn Hangul. Learn. Basic. Phrases. Though Korea is very forgiving to foreigners who are not familiar with the language, it is important to at least try to learn basic phrases, such as how to order from a restaurant, ask for directions, or go shopping. An app called Papago, created by Naver, has a phrasebook built in that is perfect for pretty much any occasion. There are apps for both Android and iOS . Hangeul takes MAYBE a week to learn. Reading it at first will be slow, and you should not expect to read it anywhere near as fast as your native tongue, but just keep trying. You can use this resource to help you study.
Studying is very important for Korean university students. Their GPA is often used for scholarships, internships and even their dorm applications. So it’s not strange if you don’t see your Korean friends for weeks during midterm and finals. Traveling, you will often hear the saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and this is the case in Korea. Though the objective is to have fun while here- as this adventure is generally a once in a lifetime experience for most folks- studying is still an incredibly important aspect of Korean education, and one you should be keen to participate in. Odds are your classes will not be as difficult, but it is easy to get caught up in having too much fun and your grades suffering as a result.