Exchange in Kimchiland

From Korea with Love

Tag Archives: preparation

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!

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. ;-)


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!