A month into exchange and my arrival in Seoul, South Korea, and I can honestly say that it feels like I’ve been here for ages. Yonsei University is part of the trio of ‘SKY’ universities in Korea – Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. SKY might not mean much to the foreign ear but it is highly prestigious, competitive, and well-known by the locals.
AT THE AIRPORT:
So I flew straight to Korea from home, no pre-exchange travels, and arrived to find one extremely long line at Immigration for international visitors. Patience is a great virtue for this. From Incheon Airport to Yonsei, I took the airport bus for 10,000KRW. For the price you pay, it is surprisingly convenient and comfortable; and you don’t need to worry about hauling your luggage on and off the bus since it goes in a compartment underneath the bus which the driver helps you with.
- Bus No. 6011 and tell the driver you want to get off at the Ewha’s Women’s University This stop allows you to enter Yonsei through the East Gate rather than the Yonsei University stop which is leads you to the Main Gate. It is much more convenient and a shorter distance to the on-campus housing, especially since you have luggage with you.
- Note: Buy your bus ticket inside the airport, not on the bus
Hopefully your accommodation/housing has been sorted out before you leave Australia. I’m staying on-campus at SK Global House (SK). SK has the option of single or double rooms with private bathrooms whilst International House (I-House) only has double rooms with communal bathrooms (also on-campus and situated right next door to SK). Facilities include:
- Each floor (separated by gender) has a lounge/common room and shared study rooms
- There is a GS25 convenience store and various cafes and mini restaurants located on the ground floor
- Laundry Room where the average washing load costs around 1,000KRW and 500KRW for drying.
- Fitness Room contains basic gym equipment (treadmill, bike, weights etc.)
- WiFi is available in public areas (hallways, common room etc.) but for your room, you should bring or buy an Ethernet cable for your laptop to access the internet. WiFi signals in your room can be weak or non-existent.
Hint: If you want a particular room type (especially the single room at SK), then make sure you have your account/login set-up beforehand and apply immediately when registrations open. It literally only takes a few clicks to register but click fast! Also, don’t worry about payment because you apply first, wait for the result, then pay.
- Payment is by bank transfer only, so make sure you give your payment 3-5 working days to be received and confirmed.
- Note: To check-in, you need a clean tuberculosis report and a copy of your passport.
Now that check-in is over, you can set up your room, explore the beautiful and massive campus, and attend orientation the following day where you will receive your orientation package which includes your certificate of enrolment (needed for Alien Registration) and Student ID Card. You will have about 1 week to explore anything and everything before the semester officially starts.
However, during this time and MOST IMPORTANTLY, you should apply for your Alien (foreigner) Registration Card ASAP. Even though you have your D-2 student visa, this card is required for all foreigners staying in South Korea for more than 90 days. Assuming you are living on campus at either SK or I-House, then you need to apply at the Seoul Immigration Office.
MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE: GET TO THE IMMIGRATION OFFICE EARLY!!!
- It opens at 9am but get there as early as possible! This sounds exaggerated but do NOT underestimate how many people are there and potentially how much time you could waste!
So now, semester has officially started and hopefully you haven’t had any enrolment issues. Round 1 of enrolment is based on a ‘mileage’ (points) bidding system and round 2 is first come, first served.
- UTS 6 credit points = Yonsei 3 credit points
- Note: Round 1 & 2 are completed before semester starts – so take note of the enrolment dates if you are at home or travelling.
- If you miss out in both rounds, then a final option is to wait until semester starts at Yonsei and attend the very first class to ask the subject’s professor if you can join his/her class. If they are ok with it, then they need to sign off on a subject form that you will find once you arrive at Yonsei.
- Money: Many students either open up a bank account with Woori Bank or just exchange currency at the bank when necessary. Both are pretty convenient given that there is a Woori Bank on campus and ATM’s can be found quite easily. I’ve chosen the Citibank Plus Debit Card (following advice from another UTS student who also attended Yonsei). From my experience so far, it’s really easy to apply for in Australia, there are no international transaction or exchange fees, and the exchange rate is not a rip-off. Also, there’s a Citibank ATM located in the GS25 convenience store at SK.
- Transport Card: You can purchase a T-Money Card, similar to the Opal Card, at the convenience store and then add money to it there or at subway stations etc. Or you can also use your Yonsei Student ID Card as a T-Money Card.
- SIM Card: many students go to the Olleh shop in SK to buy a SIM Card.
So whether you’re into Korean culture, music or TV, Asia in general or somehow or another ended up at Yonsei University, I hope my post has been helpful and informative in preparing you for your own exchange journey!
P.S. Everybody here definitely knows how to work hard and play hard! There will never be a dull or boring moment with cheap food, vibrant streets, performers, nightlife and everything open late into the night!
Kimberley Ho (11654403)