Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

Tag Archives: housing

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!

Visa application, housing & Korean won

I finally did my visa application one week ago! So, how did I get my lost acceptance package? It had arrived to JAMK on the 20th of January, but the international coordinator of Leena (different person from my international coordinator) tought that all of the papers belonged to Leena so she sent them to Finnish Lapland for Leena to have. You can read from Leena’s blog why it took some time for her to get a good look at the papers. On Thursday the 27th I got a phone call from Leena stating that she has my papers. Leena kindly sent the papers to me the same day and they arrived to Jyväskylä the next day. Yay!

The most important thing that the acceptance package included was the Certificate of Admittance which you’ll need to apply for a student visa. Once I got the certificate, I filled in the visa application and sent them to the Korean Embassy of Finland together with my passport, 40 euros, Finnish Study Certificate and a return envelope. If I’m lucky, I should be getting the visa back next week.

We also received information about the dorm housing. They had assigned a two-person dorm room for me and Leena! Just what we were hoping for! Our small room is located on the second floor of the HwaHong Hall. I was actually hoping for the sixth floor with a nice view, but I think we’ll settle with this one. ;-)

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I got my study abroad grant from JAMK this week so I decided to change some Korean currency. They actually didn’t have that many Korean notes at the exchange office since it’s so rare that someone would like to have Korean won in this little town. I decided to take everything they had (which was around 500 euros and 700 000 won). I think that’s enough to start my life in Korea – I can always get more from ATM’s there. A hot tip: go and reserve your Korean won at least one week before your trip – it will take some time for them to order the currency for you.

In South Korea they have four different kind of notes; 1 000 won (0,70€), 5 000 won (3,5€), 10 000 won (7€) and 50 000 won (35€). The 50 000 won note was released as late as the year 2009, so before that the largest note was only worth 7 euros! That is so weird. You would need to carry around a huge pile of money if you wanted to purchase something a bit more expensive. I wonder if they’ll release a 100 000 won note soon as the economy is getting better and the prices higher.

A little over two weeks to go!

Why is it always so hard?

Last Friday was the deadline for the dormitory online application. In order to login to the online application system, you need to have your student number and other information you can only get from the university. I tried to get the information needed by sending many e-mails to the international coordinator of Ajou University but I just couldn’t get any reply. Fortunately, the international office at JAMK called them on Friday morning and got them to send the information needed. The people at the Ajou University said that the information had already been sent. I’ve been checking my spam inbox as well but there was nothing there.

Long story short, I did the application on Friday just one hour before the deadline. Well, actually my boyfriend did the application for me since I was in Helsinki to attend the Nordic Travel Fair and couldn’t use a computer. Tried to do the application with the Internet access of my cellphone but it was impossible. Nevertheless – YAY! Now I may not have to sleep under the bridge!

I’m still waiting for the acceptance package from Korea though. It has been on its way to Finland for little over a week now. Leena already got her package but I’m wondering why mine hasn’t arrived yet. I’m so not digging if it has been lost in the mail. I’m going to ask them to send me another one if it doesn’t arrive here during next week. The time is running out to do the visa application!

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Six weeks left

I’ve got six weeks left in Finland before my flight to South Korea. I’m starting to get a bit nervous, because the required documets haven’t arrived from Ajou University yet. I tought they’d send them to me during December (thats what was written on their schedule) but they sent me an e-mail today stating that they’ll send the documents to my home university this week. Hopefully I’ll get the papers next week so I can apply the student visa and get it in time from the Korean Embassy.

They sent me a great package of information via e-mail as well. All of this information will arrive through snail mail as well, but it was a nice thing from them to send them by e-mail already so I would be less nervous waiting for the info package. The e-mail included spring semester schedules, information about health insurance and tuberculosis test (I need to get tested either in Finland or when arriving to South Korea), information about housing, a campus map, an arrival pick-up service form etc. If you’ll arrive to Incheon (Seoul) airport between 23rd and 24th of February, there will be a pick-up service available. Good thing I knew this already when I booked my flight tickets, so I’ll be arriving to Incheon airport on the 23rd.

Here’s the schedule for the Spring Semester 2011

♦ Dormitory Application, January 17-21
♦ Deadline for Additional Application Materials, January 31
♦ Notice of online course registration (tentative), January 31
♦ Dormitory Room Assignment Notice, January 28
♦ Dormitory Opening, February 23
♦ Orientation (Mandatory), February 25
♦ Classes Begin, March 2
♦ Course Change, March 9-11
♦ŸCourse Drop, March 24-25
♦ Mid-term Exam, April 20-26
♦ Final Exam, June 16-22
♦ Farewell Ceremony for Exchange Students (tentative), June 22
♦ End of the Spring Semester, June 23
♦ Dormitory Moving-out, June 23

There will also be four Korean national holidays during my stay there. The 1st of March is the Independence Declaration Day, also called as March 1st Movement Day. May 5th is the Children’s Day – they also have the same holiday in Japan. May 10th is the Buddha’s Birthday. On the 6th of June, South Korea is remembering the men and women who died during the Korean War. This day is called the Memorial Day.

I’ve finally completed all the necessary paperwork with JAMK and KELA (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland), so everything else besides the Korean visa and the dormitory application (must be done next week via Internet) should be in order. I hope I’m not forgetting something.

What I’ve done so far

♦Filled in the exchange application in February 2010 – got accepted to Korea by JAMK in March 2010
♦Bought the flight tickets (600€) in October 2010
♦Filled in the online application at the Ajou University website in November 2010 – got an acceptance e-mail in December
♦Sent a self-introduction essay with CV, a passport copy, official transcript of records and a recommendation letter from my international coordinator to Ajou University by e-mail in November 2010
♦Filled in the learning agreement and gave it to my international coordinator in December 2010 – the international coordinator sent it to JAMK international office from where it was sent to Ajou University
♦Filled in the application for the JAMK study grant abroad in December 2010 – got the decision of the grant in late December
♦Bought two additional months for my travel insurance (117€) in December 2010
♦Filled in KELA documents for studying abroad and for summer studies (since the Korean spring semester will continue during summer as well) in January 2011
♦Filled in the online form for the arrival pick-up service in January 2011

As you can see, there are a lot of things to remember!

The Ajou University campus area. Most of the exchange students will be living in HwaHong Hall (Dormitory 3).

The Ajou University campus area. Most of the exchange students will be living in HwaHong Hall (Dormitory 3) in the northern part of the area.

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