What to Prepare for Your Summer School in Korea

What to Prepare for Your Summer School in Korea

Coming all geared up for summer school in Korea will save you from a headache, especially at the start of your study stint. Here are some things to be aware of and to prepare.

Having been on student exchange programmes that stretch six months, I thought preparing for six weeks in Korea for a summer school programme would be a breeze. However, I soon came to realise that packing for six weeks was slightly different than preparing for long-term travel because of the awkward duration; it was neither a short trip nor a long one. In addition, there were a few unique things regarding studying in Korea that I had to take note of. Below are five things I wish someone had told me before I arrived for summer school:

Do your tuberculosis test

If you’re staying in a university dormitory, chances are, you’ll have to complete a tuberculosis test. Most students settle this in their home country before coming to Korea, but if you didn’t do it, don’t worry! The public hospitals in Korea offer the TB test for just a few dollars and it takes about 10 minutes to complete. It was much cheaper for me to do it in Korea than in Singapore, where it costs about S$20.

If you will be studying in Seoul, you could take the test in Severance Hospital which is located right next to Yonsei University. It’s also easily accessible from Yonsei, Ehwa Womans University and Hongik University. Once you reach the hospital, present your passport or student ID and request for the TB test. They’ll bring you to get a quick X-ray and the test is done! As the test results will take about three working days to be ready, do allow sufficient time before moving into the university dormitory.

Bring your own bed sheets

The hostel usually provides a set of bed covers when you move into the dormitory. Mine came with a pillow cover, a bedsheet, a mattress protector, and a blanket. However, I would still recommend bringing your own bed sheets and pillow covers as some of the ones provided may have stains with questionable origins. Bed covers that are familiar to you may also have you feeling more comfortable in your own bed. On top of that, bringing your own blanket cover is wise as it saves you from washing the entire blanket every other week; it’s more practical to wash the blanket cover instead.

Bring along an extension plug

Bring along an extension plug so that you can plug in all your local appliances with ease. All the plugs in your accommodation will require a travel adapter, but bringing more than one travel adapter is cumbersome and unnecessary. Simply use one travel adapter for your extension plug and you can use all your appliances without hassle!  

Note: Girls, you may want to bring along a hairdryer as well. Six weeks overseas was not long enough a time for me to justify buying a brand new hairdryer, yet it was too long for me to constantly go to sleep with wet hair. Hence, I brought along a small one from home to save on buying a new one.

Carry around your Korea Entry Confirmation

Singaporeans like myself who study in Korea for less than 90 days usually do not need to apply for a visa. In place of that, I was issued a Korea Entry Confirmation slip at the immigration counter. It’s a small slip of paper that very much resembles a receipt. When I first received it, I thought nothing of it and just left it tucked in my passport and safe in a drawer. However, I soon realised its importance when more than one shop asked for my Entry Confirmation number when processing my application for loyalty programmes or tax refunds. If you do not have the habit of carrying your passport around, snap a picture of this small slip of paper for your convenience.

Prepare your Korea SIM card

While many places in Korea offer free wifi, it is sometimes unstable or hard to connect to. Since I arrived in Korea with my Singapore-based SIM card, I had to get a local SIM card on my first day of school. Due to the lack of options and time, my phone plan was on the expensive side and I ended up with only 2GB of data for the whole month – totally insufficient for all the Instagram stories. A better option for heavy data users would be the unlimited data plan.

So before your flight, do an online search for phone plans as it may give you a better deal. In addition, you may be able to pick up the SIM card at the airport. Having a Korean number will come in handy, such as when you’re making local calls or signing up for loyalty programmes with shops.

Bonus: Where to stay

If you’re studying at Yonsei University or Ewha Womans University, staying at Sinchon will make your journey to school much easier in the summer heat. In addition, Sinchon has many 24-hour shops and decent nightlife.

I would also highly recommend Yonsei University’s student hostel. While it’s a good 15-minute walk to the Sinchon subway station, the student hostels could be located near your classes (depending on where your classes are conducted). More importantly, many international exchange students will be staying in the student hostels as well.  

For Hongik University students, Hongdae is another area with amazing nightlife and food. Many students would avoid this area for fear of it being too noisy at night. However, as a solo exchange student in Korea, I have come to find comfort in the bright lights of open shops when walking back to my accommodation late at night.

About Author

Carmen Lum
Carmen Lum

Carmen is a wanderer who struggles between her desire to explore and kick back with a good book. She is fascinated by culture, scenarios and stories from strangers all over the world. Her energy comes from her constant supply of food and desire to try the most exotic cuisines. Read more of her stories on her blog CarFeasts.

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