Travel Tips: South Korea

By: Heather Eubank

1. Pack the least amount of clothing as you can. Clothes in Korea are super super super cute and stylish and everything you see you’ll want to own. They’re pretty cheap, too (for the cheapest shopping, check out the street or underground shopping markets). You might end up buying more than you expected.

2. BRING DEODORANT FOR THE ENTIRE SEMESTER! If you don’t, good luck finding your brand here, and if you do, it’ll most likely be unreasonably priced.

3. For the girls, if you have a personal preference for your, um, womanly necessities, bring enough to last the whole time. Don’t expect to find your brand here.

4. As far as other toiletries go, Home Plus has some major names (I’ve seen some over-priced Dove shampoo and soap), but if you need or just prefer something special, don’t risk it and just bring it with you. Better safe than sorry.

5. If you prefer over-sized towels, bring one with you. They have large towels at Home Plus, but they’re smaller than what I call “normal-sized” body towels. Not a terrible inconvenience, though.

6. Try to familiarize yourself with some of the Korean pop culture (music, dramas, variety shows) before you leave the U.S. or at least during your time in Korea. K-pop and K-dramas are a HUGE sensation and chances are you’ll impress your Korean friends if you’re able to list some bands or sing some songs. Also, they’re great conversation starters. Not only that, going to a karaoke room (called noraebang) is a common thing, so it helps if you know some of the music, although there is a ton of English music to choose from as well.

7. Go to every single ITS function and go on every single field trip. The ITS program is incredible and the people involved will be like your parents, your siblings, and your best friends. Don’t hesitate to ask the office any questions you have! They’re more than willing to help with anything and everything.

8. Food in Korea tends to be a bit spicy. Bring lots of Tums or other medicines if you think you’ll need them.

9. Experience a jimjilbang. Fully experience a jimjilbang. Yes, it might sound unappealing at first, but I’ve developed a great fondness for jimjilbangs. It’s one of the most liberating experiences you’ll ever have once you get over the initial uncomfortableness!

10. Participate in the English Clinic.

11. If you’re sick while abroad, go to the health clinic in the Student Union building. They’re magical.

12. Get a cell phone for your time in Korea. It makes life so much easier.

13. This isn’t necessarily a tip, more like a warning, but there is a curfew for the dorms at KU. The doors lock at midnight and don’t open back up until 5am. If you do miss curfew, you should be able to go to the library. However, during midterms and finals, curfew is lifted.

14. Turn in all of your ITS paperwork on time. It not only makes things less complicated for the ITS office, but there could a reward in it for you later on.

15. Take advantage of the Sky Cafe and the English Cafe.

16. Shipping things home by mail can get pretty expensive. Be prepared to spend over a hundred dollars for a twenty-pound package.

17. Bring enough money with you to get you through the first five to six weeks, because that’s about how long it’ll be about a month before you’re able to receive your alien registration card and set up a bank account and about a week or two after that for the financial office to deposit your flight refund money. I originally started with ₩450,000 but ended going through that quicker than I thought I would, but I was spending quite freely. I ended up withdrawing more than I’m willing to admit from an international ATM in Seoul.)

18. There IS an international ATM in Jochiwon. Take the shuttle bus to the train station and take the stairs across the tracks. Head toward Cafe Pascucci. Turn right before actually reaching the cafe and cross the street. Walk straight toward the shops. (If you look to your left, there’s nothing. Don’t go left. Go straight.) In that round-about strip, on your left, there is a Seven Eleven. Go in and head towards the back of the store, on the left. THERE is the international ATM. There’s another ATM in a bank farther down the main street, but I always went to the one in the Seven Eleven.

19. Beware of the traffic, especially those little motor bikes. They stop for nobody. Pedestrians avoid vehicles, not the other way around.

20. Bring something from home to give to your Korean friends. They’ll love that.

21. Just have a positive attitude. Things will be different. Expect it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

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