Life and Seoul
ANNYEONG HASEYO!! If you are wondering how South Korea and Yonsei University is like, you came to the right place. I will provide you with rich and helpful details on what to expect when you arrive in South Korea and Yonsei University.
I know how it feels when you are thinking of what country you want to go to and which university to pick to study. But let me reassure you, South Korea is the right place to be as it is bursting with rich and beautiful culture. South Korea is one of the many countries that is wonderful in terms of exploring its dynamic cityscape and its gentle, harmonious nature.
It has been 3 weeks since I’ve been in this gorgeous country and I’ve already fallen in love with the country; its culture and breath-taking sceneries. So far, my experiences are invaluable as I have become more open in taking in the Korean lifestyle, culture and making new friends. Everything can be overwhelming at first but just enjoy your time and take it as you go; its part of being a traveller where you seize every opportunity you have and make the most of it. Yeah sure you will experience culture shock but that’s part of it! Don’t be scared to explore and leave you comfort zone as South Korea has many things to offer, be brave!
Life on exchange is a really exciting feeling and rewarding as you will embark a once in a life time journey; where you will create lifelong friends, and make new memories. But before all that can happen, you need to consider many things to prepare yourself well before arriving in South Korea. Before arriving to South Korea, you need to prepare:
- D2 VISA
- TB test (if you are planning to stay in dorms)
- Valid passport
- Debit Card
PASSPORT and D2 VISA – you need to obviously obtain a valid passport along with your D2 Visa approval. With D2 VISA, apply for it as soon as you receive the enrolment approval from your host university. I did it on the last month before my flight and I was worried that it would take a while to process, luckily it only took one week. But get it done ASAP because the last thing you want is to panic!
TB test – getting a TB is simple but will take 2-3 weeks, depending on the result from the hospital. I got my TB test from Nepean Hospital at Penrith and the process took one week. But for this, you need to do it a month before you fly out. This is important if you are planning to stay in dorms. The university will be asking you for your test and if you do not have it then you will not be admitted to living in the dorms, so get it done and do not forget it!
Debit Card – in terms of banking overseas I was really looking for a bank that will keep my mind at ease and make sure that I am not losing money when I withdraw overseas. I considered many banks and what they can offer a poor student like myself and in the end, I decided to stick with Citibank. The reason why I chose Citibank is because they offer no transaction fees when you withdraw overseas and when you pay by card. In addition, Citibank offer higher exchange rates than other banks which means you are always “winning”. From my experience, I have used it in South Korea and it has not disappointed me but the only thing that you need to find is a GLOBAL CITIBANK ATM. In terms of finding an ATM, you would need to go to City Hall to withdraw money as Citibank is hardly used in the country. Also, when you are withdrawing money, you need to select FOREIGN ENGLISH (overseas card) because if you pick DOMESTIC ENGLISH (local card) you will be charged.
Housing – I am currently living in a single dorm at SK Global House which is located on campus. At first, I was hesitant on living in dorms because I thought that I could find other places that are convenient and are at an affordable price. But you’ll find that if you live outside of dorms, you will end up spending the same amount as living in dorms. However, the only thing is that you need to abide by the dorm’s rules and regulations. In my case, I ended up choosing to live in a single dorm…a bit pricey but worth it because you get to have your own privacy. I like my own privacy purely because I don’t want to share with other people that I don’t know because if you live in a double room, you don’t get to pick who your roommate will be; it will be at random. So, if applications for housing opens apply straight away and make sure you save up!
Once you arrive in South Korea, you need to consider getting:
- T-Money Card
- Prepaid Sim Card
- Alien Registration Card (IMPORTANT)
T-Money Card – this card is like opal but better because it has multiple use of not only tapping on the subway or bus but you can also use it to buy things in convenience stores. Its very handy to have but I mainly use it for public transport. You can purchase and recharge your T-Money Card at every convenience store and the price for commuting is very cheap!!
Prepaid Sim Card – getting this is quite challenging especially for foreigners like us. I did a lot of research, digging into the best provider in South Korea and I found out that SKT and KT are the top two providers in the country. It was hard to find a good deal because the staff members cannot speak English or they just simply cannot provide prepaid sim card. Most of the places that I went to only does plans and you must buy their phones at a high price. I went with no sim card for 3 weeks and it was very hard but don’t lose hope because there is free Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere; you just need to find one that has no security on it and try. So, in the end I got a good deal at Yonsei University where a group of local students were helping exchange students like us to get prepaid sim card. You get a good deal at a very good price; more bang for your buck! So, I really recommend asking them for help in terms of getting a sim card and they will provide you a good deal. Click on the link: https://www.facebook.com/everydayif/, like their page and ask away!
IMPORTANT Alien Registration Card (ARC) – having a D2 VISA will not be enough to keep you in the country as it is required by Korea Immigration Bureau that all foreigners who are staying 90 days or more will need to apply for ARC. You will need to apply for alien registration card but do not worry! You will get the chance to get information from the university on where to apply and how to get it. But make sure that once you get the information at the orientation, act on it as soon as you can because everyone else will be doing the same thing and it’s a ‘first-come first-served’ basis. As for me, I left it a couple of days after and it’s taking a while for me to get my ARC. So, my advice for you is to act on it ASAP!
Now, about life at Yonsei. It has only been a week since orientation and its been so good so far! The campus is big and is larger than the universities in Sydney. You will be amazed at how big Yonsei is and everything is amazing. I have met students from other countries and they are so wonderful! I hope the same would happen for you when you go on exchange at Yonsei.
My personal journey as an exchange student is still unfolding and I cannot wait for what is in store for me. I am excited to start class because I want to know how it differs from UTS style of teaching. So far, my timetable is set out well and I am only doing 9 hours of uni per week! I am undertaking 3 subjects which are direct subjects and they are:
- Nano Medical Technology
- Virus and Host
- Entrepreneurship and Strategy
I hope the information that I have given you is enough to get the idea of what you will need to do when you go on exchange in South Korea. I personally had a hard time on gathering useful information from past student’s blogs as it was all generic. I want you to be aware of what you will be tackling and what you should expect when you go on your journey. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email me on my student address firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you out as much as I can 😊
Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, Bachelor of Medical Science and Diploma in Engineering Practice
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