Step 4: Flight ticket
NIIED issues the flight ticket based on the entry form you previously filled out and sent to them by email. NIIED sent out the flight tickets with a delay last year so we only received them in the beginning of August. Most of the scholars get their desired ticket but some might also have to book their own tickets if NIIED cannot find one with the desired departure airport. However no reason to worry since they reimburse you the money for the flight ticket if you book it yourself. All flights are either operated by Korean Air or Asiana Airlines and depending on your route your luggage allowance may also vary. Check your flight ticket and if it clearly states that you can have 1 piece of luggage, it means 1 piece of luggage (23 kg) and you would have to pay a supplement for another piece of luggage. As a KGSP scholar, you may qualify for a luggage weight limit increase with Korean Air, from 23 kg to 32 kg. This will be mentioned in the Notice for Korean Air Passenger pdf you will receive if you’re flying with Korean Air. Besides this, prices for additional pieces of luggage may vary from Korean Air to Asiana Airlines. My friend was allowed 1 piece of 32 kg because she was flying directly from Amsterdam to Incheon with Korean Air. Although I was also booked with Korean Air, I was flying from Denmark with a connection in Amsterdam, so I was only allowed 1 piece of 23 kg. I ended up paying 100$ for the excess weight and 130$ for the extra piece of luggage.
Step 5: Packing
Packing to live in a foreign country for 3 years can be a pain. I remember when I had to prepare my luggage for the trip I couldn’t limit it to 1 piece so I ended up buying additional luggage, which I had to pay from my own pocket. Since I had lived in South Korea before I knew that finding clothes and shoes would be a challenge for me so I decided to bring a variety of clothes and shoes for the different seasons. If you don’t have the Asian body proportions I would recommend you to bring enough clothes. I am a US size 9.5 and it is extremely difficult for me to find shoes in South Korea except for brand shoes. Therefore I had to bring both sandals and winter boots. Another important thing to remember is medicine. If your body is sensitive to some sorts of medicine or you just want to bring your own painkiller, do it! I am resistant to Korean painkillers and they never worked for me so I brought enough medicine to cover my needs. Speaking of needs, if you like your towels to cover your body I would recommend you to bring your own big towels from home. The average size of towels in this country is quite small and in my opinion not made for humans. I have later found out that Costco has some decent-sized towels but you need a membership to be able to buy stuff from there. If you are obsessed with mouth hygiene I would recommend you to bring your own toothpaste since I haven’t found any good brands here yet. Another important thing to bring falls in the category of girl essentials. If you are a big fan of tampons I would recommend you to bring enough with you. It is expensive in South Korea and produced differently so you might feel a bit uncomfortable with the locally available options. Most important of all, remember to pack the most important things you need and cannot find in South Korea. It might be hard if you haven’t lived here before but look for information online or on YouTube to get an idea.
Step 6: Arrival/Pick-up by the language institute
It is essential to bring important documents and credit cards with you while traveling. Before leaving your home country you should confirm with your bank that your credit cards work abroad and if not, you should get them unlocked since you might need money during the first month in South Korea. I would recommend you to bring 700 000 won in cash with you for the first month since the language institute might pay the first allowance a bit late. Depending on the circumstances you might need money for at least a month so be prepared.
The language institute will contact you before arrival and give you some information about the pick-up and other important stuff related to the language institute/university. Usually the language institute/university assigns some current students for the pickup from the airport and provides you with their contact information in the email they send you. The students responsible for your pickup will be waiting for you at the exit mentioned in the email and will probably have signboards for you to locate them.
Lastly, I would encourage you not to contact Lucy or other staff members responsible for KGSP students since they have their hands full with thousands of students. Remember that you are not the only one and act according to that. If you have questions contact your seniors or do some research. You can pretty much find all the information you need online. If you have a specific problem or question you should of course contact NIIED but do not send them 5 emails with the same question or call them because they didn’t answer your email. Instead wait patiently; they will eventually get in touch with you.