Packing has always been something I have struggled with, either I pack too much or not enough, that is also why I tend to put it off until the very last minute when I’m contemplating whether or not I should pack the fourth pair of jeans, and in the end I usually get so frustrated that I just unpack everything and start over since I apparently have packed way too much and even the weight of my and my sister’s body is not enough to zip my poor luggage.
Four months is not very long, it isn’t really, but if you are, like me, leaving your comfort zone for the first time, to explore a country you have only seen in your favorite tv-shows then it feels like a lifetime and you will most likely be scared, excited and stressed, with a hint of guilt when you see your parents’ forced smiles whenever you mention something about your destination. It’s all going to be worth it though, right? My heart is trembling but I can tell that it’s the good kind and not the bad, it will be good.
Finally packed and the clock tells me that the time is 11:30 pm, perhaps some sleep would to be advised before a 12 hour long journey, all the way from Gothenburg to the city of Seoul.
Before I stop my first entry on this blog about my experience in South Korea as an exchange student I thought I would write a short list of things to think about before you leave. Most of these tips have been given to me by friends or different sites including our own university’s site which has lots of useful information for those of you who are planning to study abroad for a semester or longer. I apologise for the lack of photos in this post and I promise I will be better once I have landed in Korea. Thank you for reading this far and I hope you will be following me on my adventure.
Make sure you know the rules of how to apply for a visa for the country you will be going to. The rules are often different for each country and it’s always a good idea to start early rather than to be sorry later. You wouldn’t want to have to reschedule a flight just because you won’t get your visa in time. (Of course that did not nearly happen to me, I’m very organized.)
2. This one is quite obvious but it’s worth mentioning since I know some people who have actually done this mistake. Check that your passport is valid during the time of your stay as well as the extra time required by the country.
3. Find alternative ways of communication with friends and family. Apart from getting a SIM Card, having another way of communicating is always good since it is pricy to call internationally and these days it’s easy to text and call for free with certain apps installed on your phone using WiFi. For example, my sister made a group chat for me and the rest of my family on a mobile app so I wouldn’t have to repeat the same thing over and over, kind of put me out of the stress of having to text five different numbers saying simple words like ”I am fine, you may relax now.”
4. Find an accommodation. Korea University which I will be studying at for this fall semester has its own dorms which you can apply for through their site, but since the rooms are limited you also have the options to live off campus. In Korea the most common option besides living in dorms is to live in so called ”Goshiwons”, small rooms in a dorm-like building, with or without private baths. I will write more about Goshiwons in another post since that is the type of accommodation I have chosen.
5. As much as technology can have amazing functions and navigation which we rely on very much, sometimes they run out of charge and that’s when paper and a pen is your best friend. Keep a notebook with all your important numbers, addresses, names and make small notes and instructions to yourself so that you can easily manage even without a smartphone.
6. Don’t forget to wear a smile on your lips and an open mind to be filled with new exciting things. Remember that what you find normal might not be so normal there and that that is fine too. Different does not mean wrong.
You can find more information and important links concerning exchange studies at Halmstad University here.