Episode 2: Alien Registration Card
Date: September 4, 2012
Watching Super Junior dance away to “SPY” on Mnet Countdown is a great way to start this second blog!
Living in South Korea for the last two weeks has been great! So far, I have visited some really cool places thanks to the tours organized by Yonsei University for exchange students. The first stop on our tour was Gyeongbok Palace. This palace was created by King Taejo in 1395 and is the largest of the five palaces created in the Joseon Dynasty. A beautiful palace to visit, I highly recommend you go see it and check out the changing of the guards!
I’ve also had a chance to visit the FIFA 2002 world cup stadium (which I didn’t even know was held in in Seoul…), the Blue house (Korea’s version of the White House) where the President of Korea lives. I also got the chance to visit the beautiful Buddhist temple Bongeunsa and the SeonNeung (World Heritage Site) which is the burial ground location of two Joseon Dynasty Kings and one Queen. For any student or someone just visiting South Korea, I would recommend these places as great starting points to check out. They are interesting and educational and you might as well educate yourself about the country you are visiting or will be living in (don’t be lazy now).
It’s been two weeks since I arrived in South Korea and I guess I am at the culture shock phase of my adjustment curve. I was in a deep honeymoon phase upon arrival because South Korea really is an amazing country filled with interesting people and many things to do. Furthermore, if you are a KPOP addict like me, you’ll feel overwhelmed with the amount of Kpop and Korean goods you suddenly have access to (I admit it feels oh so good). But nothing here is easy. Finding housing, registering for classes, organizing your banking, getting your alien registration card, and many other things are a bother and the language barrier only adds to the frustration. In all honesty, today I just wanted to go home. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is wrong with South Korea, but I just wanted to go home, speak some English and be surrounded by my family & friends. Majority of people here don’t speak English… you can’t believe how utterly frustrating that is. Not being able to fully communicate can be… depressing? I mean eventually you settle in, but no matter how much you might love a country, you will feel this way if you are living there for a while. It’s very frustrating and no amount of love for KPOP or Korean food can make you feel better. But it’s all part of the experience and being thrown outside of your comfort zone. Time to grow up my fellow students!
Oh my god, enough sappy shit Sabrina! What else did I have to say…. Oh right! Dear students! Here me out! Don’t expect to come here and find easy housing. NO! this is not Canada, finding a homestay can be very difficult because many places in Seoul and around your university will already be taken. Furthermore, most apartments will require a deposit ranging anywhere from 15 to 20 000$ which they return to you when you leave (they make mad interest off your money!). A big mistake I made was to not reserve a spot on campus. Dorms are much cheaper and the location is convenient. So don’t make my mistake and be stuck with no housing T_T. One big word of advice I can give you is to be prepared in advance and assume nothing will be easy. That being said, I love living with a Korean family. Being closer to campus and friends OR experiencing the Korean lifestyle. You choose what you value more.
However, I’m really enjoying my time here! If you enjoy spicy food, Korean food will definitely satisfy your cravings. It’s full of flavor and can be enjoyed by meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Though I must admit, Koreans eat a lot of meat! It’s very easy to find meatless dishes but if you get a chance, you must try samgyeopsal (BBQ’d pork belly) homg it’s good…
Stay open-minded when coming to Korea and try different things. Koreans really appreciate that and don’t like picky eaters. I’d know because I’m like a living garbage can: I eat EVERYTHING. And Koreans enjoy my company because they know I’ll be more than happy to try anything! So no matter how picky of an eater you may be, be respectful and be adventurous about the food you try! When Koreans offer you something, try your best to enjoy it as a sign of courtesy towards them and their hospitality.
Now I must bring this up because my god do Koreans know fashion! Despite knowing many Europeans, I think fashion here prompts my interest more than anything I’ve ever seen! Everyone dresses very nicely and ladies seem to all have the latest fashion here. The men too are quite fashionable with an almost European look to their style, but… a little more gay? I don’t really know how to express it but I think some people would think it looks gay. Which is also called looking FABULOUS!!! However, I find the Koreans have created their own style for men and it works well. I find it more charming and suiting to the Asian man and I must say they look good! Anyone from anywhere will come to South Korea and definitely learn a thing or two about fashion.
Some silly observations but Korea is a very conservative country and cleavage and chest revealing is seen as very inappropriate and is frowned upon. Now I know what you’re thinking, but the KPOP stars all dress sexy! Well stop and think, do they show any cleavage? I’ll give you a second to think of that… (me checking KPOP vids frantically to make sure I don’t sound like a dumbass D:)
No they don’t! Korea is very conservative like that so try and be respectful even though I know us westerners don’t dress like that. I think the Americans here are very fearless, they dress as if they were in the States! But out of respect and to avoid dirty looks, I try my best to cover up. Now, flip side! Women here where ass short skirts, dresses and shorts. I think the Koreans have a distorted idea of covering up because cleavage isn’t allowed yet short till I can see your panties is. I think you’ll be shocked when you come here, even people from the West don’t dress in such short clothing. It’s all about the legs here in South Korea, oh yea.
If you get a chance, shop in Myeongdong! It’s s about 30 minutes away from Yonsei University (you take bus 7011 from Shinchon station to Myeongdong stop or you can take subway line 4). It’s a huge market packed with every store you could possibly imagine and then some! I enjoyed shopping there as you can find anything you’re looking for and street vendors offer great deals for items (try your hand at haggling!). I highly recommend MyeongDong for shopping, if you have a Korean friend, I’m sure he/she will bring you there. There is also the Korea Tourism bureau there where you can dress up traditional Korean attire and take pictures (left hand side of Forever 21).
School started yesterday and I was very ecstatic to attend my first class (studying in another country actually makes you excited to go to school). The professors are Korean for the most part but speak good English. I’m taking business classes as I’m an International Business major and all Business and Economic classes are held in Daewoo Hall. If you enjoy walking, good for you! But if you’re a lazy bitch like me, get to your classes early! Walking from the main gate to Daewoo Hall which is at the opposite end of Campus is a 30 minute hike (considering you aren’t speed walking)! I was running like a maniac to get to my class this morning and barely made it (speaking of which I ran all the way there only to find out I already missed my Business Negotiations class cause I read the time wrong… ). I swear, I better return to Canada looking like a freaking model.
And yes, an important thing I want to mention because I can 100% guarantee you your university or college won’t tell you this in advance and you’ll find out when you arrive in South Korea from word of mouth is that you must apply for an Alien Registration Card. And although we are not Aliens despite the fact that we look like them to Koreans, if you are staying more than 90 days in the country then you must go to the immigration office and sign up for it. You will need to go once to apply then a second time to pick it up. From Yonsei University, it’s about 30 minutes by Subway. At the bottom, I posted a Youtube link of how to get their by Subway from the university and listed what you will need to apply for the card. You need this card in order to get basic things such as a phone and to travel to neighboring countries such as China or Japan.
This isn’t just for students. Anyone staying more than 90 days must get this card or you might get fined. And the last thing we all want is Korean fine.
Some final thoughts before I close up this blog: South Korea is very polluted, unfortunately, due to many unknown car brands created in the 80s and 90s that many Koreans still use today and blow out as much burnt gas as a family of immigrants after eating too much spicy food. The women here are to die for beautiful, and the guys are cute. I think KDramas and KPOP create high expectations, but the guys are just your average cute Asian boy 🙂 But when all suited up, they look goooood. Or when looking like a young university student, or when casually going out with friends… I swear I’m not a creeper.
I’ll cover the unknown car brands I was talking about, the University some more and some random tips on my next blog entry. See you then!
How to get to the immigration office:
Don’t forget the following!:
– Passport and a copy of your passport and visa
– Letter of Enrollment (the University will provide you this)
– Proof of payment (should be indicated on the letter of enrollment)
– Color passport picture (must have white background)
– 10,000 Won
Upon arriving at the immigration office, take a number and fill out a form while you wait. On the pink application form, stick your picture in the indicated area.
**Some advice: the immigration office is ALWAYS packed. I waited 4 hours when I went on a Friday to submit my application. To avoid long wait times, get their early (so around 9AM) or sign up before hand on hikorea.go.kr to avoid long lines.
To get back to Sinchon station, do the reverse of what the video explains and you’re back!