Hello and welcome to an introduction to my first taste of life as an exchange student at Korea University (KU) in Seoul, South Korea.
Flight time to South Korea averages around 12 hours so by the end of the flight I was most definitely feeling it. However, jet lag is non-existent compared to some others I’ve met. Just sleeping and waking up a little earlier. It momentarily fixed my sleep schedule (⁀ᗢ⁀).
It’s the end of summer, going into autumn and I’m not going to lie, as someone who much prefers cooler temperatures and has hardly ever experienced above high-mid 20s, some days just…I…(ㅠ_ㅠ). In all honesty, I feel like I have never sweated so much in my life before. TMI? Sorry not sorry.
Across the two days of dorm move-in, KU provides a free shuttle bus that will take students from Incheon Airport to the dorms in Seoul. Both CJ International House and Anam International House are foreign students only, hence the ‘International’. Unlike in New Zealand, it’s normal for dorms to house double rooms instead of the singles common in UoA halls.
Orientation was about a week after my arrival and man, exchange students everywhere…probably because it was an exchange/visiting student orientation. Unfortunately, it was raining which meant the campus tour had to be skipped but it was a free lunch（〜^∇^ )〜. During orientation they covered the standard admin including guidelines and expectations of KU life, and also walked us through the process of applying for an ID card with a financial function i.e. can be used as a debit card attached to a Korean bank account.
Each exchange/visiting student is pre-assigned a KUBA (Korea University Buddy Assistants) buddy and group who are essentially the ones designated to help internationals adjust and get through both the semester at KU and life in Korea in general.
It didn’t take much for me to get settled and used to the way of life here. But neither my East Asian cultural background nor the Western environment I was raised in could prepare me for the lack of public bins or the amount of trust people have to just leave bags, let alone valuables, unattended at tables in cafes (like..???).
Speaking of cafes, as expected, there’s so much food here, good food (^-^). My stomach is thriving, my wallet maybe not so much. BUT, as the conversion rate is so low at the moment, my wallet isn’t crying as much as it normally would be.
With my broken Korean, I manage to find my way around and communicate with most people just fine. Seoul is generally pretty well signposted in English and all the relatively more important aspects of Seoul life such as public transport are very easy to navigate. Locals will do their best to try to communicate with you and if all else fails, whether you be shopping, getting food or just trying to find your way around, body language is a universal language.
That’s all for now! 안녕!