(merkit hukassa)

Adventures in Korea

Tag Archives: preparations

I made a mess

Oh man. I made a huge mess while I was trying to pack my stuff – just to check will it fit or do I need to re-think my high-flying plan: hand luggage only – screw check in. And I’m not talking about those cabin approved suitcases here, I’m talking about a normal high school kid’s backpack.

Yes, I do know it sounds stupid, especially for a woman. But I’m not that much of a woman. I’ve been doing fine with two sets of clothes for a month already. They are washable – clothes I mean, and I pretty much plan on getting ridiculous amounts of stupid fashion crap from Korea anyways. And yeah, it doesn’t seem desperate yet. My backpack isn’t even half-full and all my clothes and tech-stuff are in there already. Quite a bit of miscellaneous stuff is yet to be packed. It’s in the middle of the night and people are sleeping so I’m trying to keep the rustling and bustling noise level down. I’m going to publish this tomorrow after I finish packing and take a picture of what I’m taking.


Oh my, oh my. Look at this:


That’s all I’m gonna take with me (four pairs of shoes, including the pair I’m going to wear!) And it fit well in this:


I measured the backpack and it fit’s in the cabin regulations if I don’t pack the front pocket. And I don’t need to pack it, as everything fits well in the other two compartments. I didn’t put in my travel guides yet, but they turned out to be compact. Without the travel guides all this weights  only 8.9 kilos, which I’m happy to carry around while traveling. The weight is going to increase a bit, I still need to pack some papers and some souvenirs…

Yesterday I went to the bank to sign my credit card papers and to the pharmacy – only to hear I will get my Japanese encephalitis vaccination today. A day too late to get the second shot in time (there should be 28 days between the first and the second shot). To be honest, I regret getting that vaccination already. It’s bloody expensive 130 e per shot, two shots)  and the risk isn’t that high anyways.  I really need to be out and about every freaking weekend to make it worth it. But I went to get the shot today. Been feeling a bit dizzy afterwards, but nothing too bad. The nurse was nice and I’m sure I should know her somewhere (maybe an ex classmate from high school or something).

Still waiting for the Letter of Acceptance :S

Now it hit me

You’ve got mail!” said my email app. Or would’ve said if it was able to speak. Good grief, I’d go crazy if it was. Anyways, Ajou sent me an email stating I should get tested for tuberculosis, get a health insurance, reserve housing, wave my light saber, do a rain dance and practice yoga. The health insurance part I got covered ages ago, hope they’ll accept my all-mighty Finnish insurance of win.

They also suggested I might be interested applying for visa. WELL YES! The ever-so-slight problem is they are sending the Letters of Acceptance this week. Gee, thanks!  For the letter to arrive to my school will take at least 3 workdays and for them to forward it to me will take another two days. Then I’ll send it to the embassy – 2 more days -, they process it – one week -, they send it back – two more days. If everything goes right.

I ordered books from Lonely Planet (LP Korea, LP Seoul and Korean Phrasebook) for 40€. Quite a good bargain, but I have mixed feelings about travel guides. You see, it would be lot easier (and less to carry) to buy a smart-phone with travel guide applications. Then again, the tech-freak I might be, I don’t trust the smart-phone technology yet and I find it huge waste of money to buy crap. I might change my mind if I find something fancy and blingy (with English OS) from Korea – the land of Samsung and LG.

Be as it might, I’m excited and bit scared now. I haven’t learn the language yet. I haven’t even started, to be precise. But I got some info about vegetarianism in Korea ( from this nice guy of Internets, thank you!) Good news is – I’m gonna get thinner. Bad news – I’m gonna get hungry. Seems to be quite hard to find vegan or even vegetarian food over there.  So better eat a lot now!

Lost in translation

I asked our university library to buy a couple of good books. I’ve been hogging them ever since, but my time’s up, so I’m gonna buy my own copies. If you are interested in Korean language, suggest your library to buy these as well.

Korean for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Korean
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; Pap/Cdr Bl edition (August 10, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804841004
ISBN-13: 978-0804841009
Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.6 x 0.5 inches
(details from Amazon.com)

Tuttle’s conversational language books are really good. Instead of formal language they concentrate on everyday language and situations. I think it’s crucial to know both, but you are in trouble if you don’t understand what normal people say. These books also have great cultural tips and good phrases to learn. And what’s best: the layout is really good and fast to read.

Korean Dictionary (Collins GEM) (Korean and English Edition)
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Collins (June 3, 2010)
Language: Korean, English
ISBN-10: 0007324723
ISBN-13: 978-0007324729
Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 3 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
(details from Amazon.com)

You only know if a dictionary is good after you use it in real situation, so I can’t tell much. With the little experience I have I found this really useful (read: found the vegetarian and vegan words and phrases right away – grouped together!). Also, this one is very small and light, but still readable.

Joys of bureaucracy

Studying abroad means filling up so many forms, you get lost in your own head. Lucky me (not), this is not the first time I’m doing this, moving or going abroad.

Here’s what I’ve got done:

[x] Electronic application of exchange studies for sending University
[x] Electronic application of exchange studies for receiving University (twice *))
[x] Passport pictures, sent here and there
[x] Passport copies, emailed here and there, probably there is someone using my identity in Ulan Bataar atm – luckily my passport has a picture of an ugly maggot on it.
[x] Self-introductory letters, full of self praise
[x] Motivation letters (note: de-motivators are no good in this case)
[x] Recommendation letters
[x] CV’s
[x] Learning agreement
[x] Flight tickets, got them in August, €620 return
[   ] Korean visa, waiting for letter of acceptance from Ajou
[   ] Form of Travel, for Ministry of Foreign Affairs **)
[   ] Housing application, waiting for letter of acceptance
[   ] Grant application, waiting for me to do it
[   ] Course registration, waiting for it to open
[x] Travel insurance, two additional months = €90 ***)
[   ] Travel currency, waiting for… perfect time?
[   ] Studying Korean, waiting…
[x] Writing blog. No wait, it’s called reporting!
[   ] Other, specify_______________?

[x] Discussing my study plan with tutor teacher
[x] Studying like mad
[x] Panicking
[x] Procrastinating like pro
[   ] Bachelor’s Thesis, in process

[x] Denouncing my housing contract
[x] Informing Kela about it
[x] Stop receiving money
[x] Getting annoyed about it
[x] Selling my belongings
[x] Updating insurances
[x] Address changes, local registry office and post
[x] Checking vaccinations, no need for new ones
[  ] Inform Kela and local registry office that I’m going abroad for a while
[  ] Moving to my parents, I guess they don’t mind
[x] Doing all this instead of studying

*) I needed to apply for exchange from my school in spring 2010, when I also sent all the documents to the receiving university. Apparently applying for Ajou just once during autumn would have been enough, as I still needed to fill in the paperwork again this fall.

**) Considering the fact that Koreas are at the brink of war, it is a good idea to let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have your contact information in case of crisis. It’s actually a good thing to do even if there’s no sign of arising crisis – you never know what’s going to happen (tsunami, anyone?) and your country needs to know how to contact you and get you out of the country.

***)  3 first months included basically in any travel insurance. Extra months seem expensive, but if you get hurt or sick and need to be transported to your home country, it can cost something like 30 000 €.

Just for curiosity, here’s what I did when I went to Canada:

[x] Receive e-mail about exchange opportunity in Canada
[x] Think it over, discuss with you bank (parents)
[x] Blindly pick a university from the list
[x] Get all the needed documents ready in one day (application, recommendation letter, study grant from school, CV, certificate of being rich enough to survive there, etc.)
[x] Kela business
[x] Visa
[x] Apartment from private market, paying it BY CHEQUE!
[x] Flight tickets
[x] Money
[x] Dad’s Credit Card!
[   ] Hesitate
[x] Go!