Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

Monthly Archives: February 2011

My room & Orientation day

I took a few photos of our dorm room. As I’ve said before, we live in a small dorm room together with Leena, the other exchange student from JAMK. It’s surprisingly cozy for a dorm room!

Our room.

Our room.

My half of the room is at the window side and you can see Leena’s half at the side of the door. I took these pictures before Leena had arrived so that’s why Leena’s half is a bit empty… :-)

My half of the room.

My half of the room.

My study/blogging corner.

My study/blogging corner.

The bed - it's very nice to sleep on!

The bed - it's very nice to sleep on!

Yesterday we had an orientation day from 10am until 5pm or so. Even though it was a long day, the time flew past surprisingly quickly. We got a lot of information about our studies and living in South Korea/Suwon. They gave us a huge package of useful information that included a survival book (with info about everything and anything, really!), a map of Suwon and all the other necessary documents one should need. They really are efficient here!

They also treated us a huuuuuge Korean style buffet lunch. Everything was so good! You just couldn’t try everything even though you wanted!

The huge lunch buffet!

The huge lunch buffet!

I tried to fit a little bit of everything on my plate, but it was impossible!

I tried to fit a little bit of everything on my plate, but it was impossible!

The school will begin next Wednesday, since there is a national holiday at the beginning of the week. So we actually have a four days long holiday now! Have to make some plans for sightseeing! Today I’ll actually meet with Seona, the South Korean girl I met in Tampere last fall. Tomorrow we were planning on going to noraebang (karaoke box) with some exchange students and Korean tutor students. It will be fun for sure! Have to think about what to do on Monday and Tuesday… Hopefully they won’t close everything for the national holiday and I’ll be able to do some sightseeing then. (-:

First two days in Korea!

Yay, I’m in South Korea now! I arrived here yesterday without bigger problems. There were some kind tutor students at the airport to pick me up. They took me to the bus that goes to Suwon and told me to get off at the final stop which was called “Hotel Castle”. At the final stop, there were some other tutor students that guided us to the taxis. I took a taxi to the campus with two other exchange students. The taxi ended up costing only like 1 euro each! It’s so cheap in Korea to use a taxi! Actually, everything here is quite cheap compared to the Finnish prices. At the restaurant, we could eat our stomachs full of delicious BBQ pork and drink some soju (Korean liquor made of potatoes) and it was only 5 000 won, which is about 3,5 euros, each! Unbelievable!

BBQ pork and soju with Chinese exchange students.

BBQ pork and soju with Chinese exchange students.

After I had arrived at the Ajou University dormitory, the student tutors here guided me to my dorm room and told me to come downstairs in few hours for a trip to a Korean BBQ restaurant. The dorm room is actually kind nice – I thought it would be smaller but you can fit in here perfectly. So, when I had settled down to my room, I went downstairs and met many Korean students there. Everyone was so nice and they were asking a lot about Finland. Actually, I didn’t really think anyone knew the Korean xylitol gum commercial I talked about the other day, but everyone was like “Hyvä Hyvä!” when I told them I was Finnish. Weird! :-D

In Korea, you cut your BBQ pork with scissors. How convenient!

In Korea, you cut your BBQ pork with scissors. How convenient!

The BBQ restaurant was great! I loooove Korean cuisine! It’s spicy and delicious – and cheap! After the BBQ restaurant, we went to a huge department store called Home Plus. I bought myself a pillow and a pillowcase – they only had inflatable pillow here ready for me and it really is uncomfortable… But the pillow and the pillowcase were like 5 euros together so I don’t mind having to buy a new one. I also bought some other stuff like little baskets, hangers, laundry powder etc. Everything ended up costing like 20 euros together so not too expensive I would say.

The view from our dorm room.

The view from our dorm room.

The campus area isn’t really that exotic, it’s like any European or American campus area. The picture taken from our window could well be taken in Jyväskylä. I haven’t been feeling any kind of culture shock here, everything is just great! The campus area is full of little parks and trees so I first tough that this place was like the countryside. But once you step out of the campus area main gate by night, you will see streets full of neon light sings and you can hear Korean pop music everywhere. It’s so cool!

Tomorrow is the orientation day, can’t wait! There’s also a dinner organized by the tutor students in the evening, so I’ll definitely attend that one as well!

This place is just awesome!

Let’s go!

Today was my final exam at JAMK and now I’m ready to go! I’ll begin my final packing soon and try to go to sleep early since tomorrow morning I’ll take the 7:30am train to Tikkurila, from where I’ll take a local bus to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. My flight will leave at 2pm but I decided on an early train since the trains here in Finland have been very late during the winter. If the train is on time, I’ll reach Helsinki-Vantaa airport just before 11am.

I just did the online check-in for the flight so I already have my boarding pass now. All I need to do at the airport is to leave my luggage at the baggage drop counter. I usually use direct flights from Finland to Asia, but this time I’ll have a stopover in Amsterdam, so I’m a little bit worried of my luggage. I’ve heard many stories about these huge European airports and their luggage handling… Can’t be sure where my luggage will end up. Let’s just hope they’ll arrive to Seoul with the same aircraft as I will!

I’ll update this blog once I’ve settled down to my small but hopefully cozy dorm room. I’ll try to get the Internet working on Wednesday night. See you soon in Kimchiland!

My first attempt on Korean kimbap this Saturday. Can't wait to try some REAL Korean cuisine soon!

My first attempt on Korean kimbap this Saturday. Can't wait to try some REAL Korean cuisine soon!

Got my visa!

Yesterday was a happy day – my Korean visa finally arrived! It was supposed to take 4-5 working days for the Korean Embassy to process my visa application, but it ended up taking two weeks. I finally called them on Tuesday, and they said my visa was ready, they just needed to print it out. Don’t know how long it would have taken if I hadn’t called them. The lady on the phone was a Korean woman speaking very good Finnish. She was nice enough to tell me the tracking code for my registered letter so I could get it sooner from the post office (wouldn’t need to wait for the pick-up card that usually arrives one day later).

I started packing my stuff yesterday and bought some souvenirs that included chocolate, candy and Moomin gum. Why gum? In Korea, Finland is well-known for its xylitol gum, click here to see why.

Today I got an e-mail from Ajou University about our orientation day schedule. The orientation takes place next Friday. Here’s the schedule.

♦ 10:00 ~ 10:20 Registration
♦ 10:20 ~ 10:30 Introductory Video of Ajou University
♦ 10:30 ~ 10:35 Introduction of Staff Members
♦ 10:35 ~ 10:40 Welcoming address by Vice President for External Relations
♦ 10:40 ~ 11:00 Introduction to Ajou University
♦ 11:00 ~ 11:20 Information Session 1: Key Information for Int’l Students
♦ 11:20 ~ 11:40 Information Session 2: Campus Life & Living in Korea
♦ 11:40 ~ 11:50 Break
♦ 11:50 ~ 12:20 Information Session 3: Dormitory Life & Fire prevention
♦ 12:20 ~ 12:30 Introduction to CCAP program
♦ 12:30 ~ 12:40 Group Photo
♦ 12:40 ~ 14:00 Welcoming Luncheon @ Lobby of Yulgok Hall
♦14:00 ~ 14:15 Registration
♦14:15 ~ 14:30 Video of the former Exchange Student Program
♦14:30 ~ 16:00 Exchage students program presentation
– Program Schedule
– Event Schedule for 2011 spring semester
– Course Registration Notice & Confirmation
– Tips for better life at Ajou
– Introduction to A.G.A students
♦16:00 ~ 17:00 Campus Tour by A.G.A.
♦18:00 ~ Dinner with A.G.A.

Wow, a long day! Don’t know why there are two registrations marked in the schedule, but we’ll find out. The A.G.A. in the schedule stands for Ajou Global Ambassadors, which is like a tutor organization to help the international students at Ajou University. They’re even coming to pick us up at the Incheon airport next Wednesday and they’ll arrange some program for us during our stay in Korea – how nice! Can’t wait to meet all the local and international students at Ajou University! See you soon!

Course selections

So the course selection for Ajou University has been open for a few days now. I was planning on taking four courses; Korean Language 1, Current Issues in Korean Society, Tourism & Culture and Taekwondo. I only got half of them. The Tourism & Culture plus Taekwondo courses were completely full and even though I sent an e-mail to the international office of Ajou, they told me that they couldn’t do anything about it. They did however tell me that they might add some more courses to the course selection later on if there are enough people who would like to attend them. Still keeping my fingers crossed!

Because I couldn’t get these two courses I wanted, I decided to select a course called Introduction to Korean History. That might be an interesting course as well! There were only like two seats left for this course as well as for the Current Issues in Korean Society one. The three courses that I selected are only worth 9 Korean credits (equal to 18 ECTS credits) together, so I’m hoping I can get additional one or two interesting courses added to my schedule when in Korea. Now it seems that every course that I might be even slightly interested in are full. They even sent an apology e-mail today stating that the exchange students might not be able to get as many credits during the Spring semester as planned. Well, I think I’ll attend to some after school activities to keep my hands busy! :-)

I sent my visa application to the Korean Embassy in Finland two weeks ago but I haven’t gotten my visa back yet. Hopefully I’ll get it during this week so I can get to Korea in time! I’m thinking of contacting the embassy tomorrow just in case if the visa doesn’t arrive with tomorrows mail.

One week to go!

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