I just have to start off by saying that the past couple of days have been so intense. We had orientation with KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistants – they’re pretty much required for exchange students), who showed us around and helped us get basic things, like cell phones and bank accounts and student IDs. I don’t feel like going into detail about what this week has been like, because it’d take so long, so I’m going to sum it up into a list.

Words from a wise KU student:

  1. Don’t live in on-campus housing. At least, don’t live in CJ International House or Frontier House. I didn’t mention this earlier, but the walk up the hill to both is brutal (CJ being much worse). I dread the thought of having to walk up the hill once a day, and in reality, I go up it several times a day. There are plenty of off-campus housing options really close to main campus that are cheaper and better. Also, CJ is really far from main campus AND the science campus. The only redeeming factor is that there are buses that shuttle between CJ and the two campuses, but don’t count on them.
  2. Tell your KUBA buddy you want to look around for the best cell phone deal. KUBA buddies and exchange students are split up into many groups (there were 10 this year), and each group went separately to look for cell phones. Our group went to a cell phone dealer in the Science Library in Hana Square. Don’t go there. The prepaid phones are rather shitty. The truth is, if you don’t want to pay for a monthly plan, you will have to get used prepaid phones that may or may not work well. I have friends who bought used prepaid phones whose enter buttons don’t work. And they can’t even return them, since we didn’t get receipts. Be very careful. If you have a family member in Korea, make them buy you a phone on their plan.
  3. There is no online course registration at KU. That means, you have to go to the International One-Stop Center along with over 500 other exchange students who are all hoping to get into the same classes. I really, really hated this. A lot of the classes I got approved ended up being full by the time I could sign up, so I’m taking 2 Korean language classes. There’s an add and drop period, but that’s also done manually. I really wish KU would switch to online course registration like US universities do.
And one more thing that’s not KU-related, but very important nonetheless. Don’t underestimate how much money you will have to spend here, especially the first week or two. There’s no way getting around the fact that you will have to buy basic living necessities, like bedding, hangers, a hair dryer, school supplies, school textbooks, groceries, tissues/toilet paper, and so many other things. I thought I wouldn’t really need all this kind of stuff, but I was in way over my head. And the basic living necessities in Korea are really a lot more expensive than at home. Don’t expect to come here and be able to get away with not paying not much for food or anything else. I thought the clothes here would be cheap (so I didn’t pack that much), but like any other nice metropolitan city, most stores are rather pricey.

So much heavy stuff. I’m going to post a new post later with happy touristy things. For now, here is a picture of my friend Thanh and I in Myeong-dong in front of a Won Bin picture :)