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Hanbok Pictures

Hanbok Pictures

Today we were able to try Hanboks in Insadong for only 20,000 won! Me and Marty picked our hanboks and were given free reign over a self shoot studio, hence we ended up taking lots of embarrassing pictures. They’re definitely worth trying if you’re heading to Insadong! 🙂

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Culinary Adventures

Here are some of the delicious Korean cuisines I’ve had so far:

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My tips of the day are:

1) If it’s red, it’s probably spicy.
2) Bulgogi is probably the most heavenly piece of sweet meat you’ll try in Korea. Even McDonald’s has a dedicated Bulgogi burger dedicated towards the popular cuisine.
3) If the restaurant requires you to take your shoes off and sit down, it’s probably expensive.
4) Try everything! There’s so many flavours that I had never experienced before!

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Hanok villages

Hanok villages

Korean architecture is one of the most unique and beautiful works of art I have ever seen. This is me and Marty holding our own fort in a traditional Korean palace from the Joseon Dynasty. The weather here is absolutely like the UK during the summer, torrential rain one minute and a heat wave the next, this is one of the rare days we’ve gotten to see the sunshine.
I’d recommend visiting only a handful of the palaces here in Korea because most of them look the same after a while. They’re great fun to explore and take pictures in. There are several activities you can do around palaces, including dressing up in Hanbok (Korean traditional dresses) and nearby tourist sites, such as Hanok villages.

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Dinner

Dinner

Food here in South Korea is extremely cheap for those of us used to dining in London. My breakfast and lunch are both under 5000 won each, which works out as £3 approximately. Dinner is the most expensive meal of the day but most students save by getting cheap takeaway food, such as McDonald’s as they deliver straight to the dorms. Also, other cheap takeaway places which sell noodles or straight up fast food such as Taco also deliver straight to your door. Another option for the lazy people out there like me, cup noodles are the way forward! They’re only a thousand won each and hot water is provided on the dorms. Also, 7eleven and GS25 (convenience stores) have microwaves and hot water facilities for any ready made meals you might buy in the store.

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Before you go off to the Korea University ISC Summer Programme…

‘North Korea warns foreigners to leave South amid new threats of war’

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  • You’re not going to die. Really.

The moment I got accepted to the Korea University Summer programme, news broke out about North Korea threatening to start a nuclear war. The threats had become more frequent ever since the joint Korean-American military drills started. This obviously had an impact on my choice to go to South Korea because I was worried for my safety but no warnings were issued by the UK government (website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-korea) and the threats began to die down soon after the drills were finished, hence I decided to buy the plane ticket after all. If this happens to you as you apply for the programme, remember to check the government website and keep track of the latest news. Although it is unlikely that anything will ever happen, it is good to know that someone went before you did and survived. Plane tickets can wait because they do not soar until early July, so give yourself plenty of time to consider going.

  • Plane tickets

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A quick search in Skyscanner revealed that Lufthansa were offering ridiculously cheap prices for Korea, I managed to snap up a return ticket for £541. I highly recommend Skyscanner for finding cheap flights to anywhere really, they really are lifesavers for students on a budget. Another handy tip is to not select a specific day to fly, try clicking July as a month and Skyscanner will usually show you a graph with prices for each day as some days are more expensive than the rest. Other airlines that fly to Seoul from the UK include British Airways, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and other major airlines.Image

  • Visa (the complicated part)

All UK citizens do not need a visa prior to landing in Korea as you will be given one upon arrival. However, you are required a visa for the Korea ISC programme because you’re studying in Korea for a certain length of time. It’s not a straight up student visa, but a C-3 type Visa which covers short term studying programmes in Korea. The cost is around £70 and the application process is complicated because the visa office in the Korean embassy in London only opens between 10- 12 for processing applications. You’ll also need to collect a series of documents, including agreements from KU and learning agreements from Royal Holloway. You’ll also need to contact student enquiries a few days before to request a student confirmation letter, this can be done online through: http://www.rhul.ac.uk/ecampus/academicsupport/studentstatusletterrequest.aspx In any case, contact the Korean Embassy to ask them the documents you need before heading off to London early in the morning. The visa takes 5 working days to process so make sure you allow plenty of time to collect the visa.

  • Phones, Sim Cards and all that jazz

The cheapest way is to unlock your phone in the UK and apply for a SIM card in Korea. You can pick one up straight from the airport, whether you’re renting a sim card or a phone, it’s amazingly convenient. There is wifi EVERYWHERE, in the subway (you can make calls from underground, it’s crazy), restaurants, the university so there is no need to get an internet plan. I used the EG Sim card company to get my sim card. Every year, they provide free sim cards for foreigners, it’s brilliant. You can pick them up at the airport before the end of June. Their facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/egsimcard?fref=ts

  • Pack your wellies

Unfortunately, the summer is the monsoon season in Korea so the weather is very hot and humid or downright pouring rain. I was given an umbrella as soon as I reached the dorms and wondered why. Don’t make that mistake and pack a good pair of wellies. There has been floods in Seoul before, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. When I say rain, I don’t mean the annoying kind of rain we get in the UK where it’s sunny one minute and pouring the other. When it rains, it rains cats and dogs over here so I’ll insist again, PACK YOUR WELLIES.

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain