Unpackingโœ…

south korea

Two and a half weeks later and I am moved in!

It feels soooo nice to be settled into my apartment.

It’s cool cause the apartment that I’m staying in has been used by the previous teachers at my school so it already had some things that I would’ve had to buy here. More on that later.

I’m still trying to find places for stuff. I have about 90% of my belongings in their places. The pile of stuff in my bedroom will find homes at some point ๐Ÿ˜†

So I don’t have to keep repeating myself, I just want to mention that I’m not sure when I’ll even be back in the USA. I packed up my whole room and either brought it with me, donated it, or gave it to friends/family. Everything that I brought is in good condition so why throw it out?

It pains me to think back at the $500 that I spent for my huge suitcases. As I was unpacking, I realized that I did bring WAAAAY too much. So, was paying the $500 for my huge suitcases worth it? I’d have say no. However, I didn’t really know what to believe from the videos and blogs that I stumbled upon before arriving in Korea so it is what it is.

Things that I brought:

International Driving Permits: What Are They and Do I Need One? - Travel  World Heritage
AAA IDP. Not mine but mine looks exactly like this
My universal adapter. I got it on Amazon for $20 two years ago and still works great ๐Ÿ‘
  • Pictures. I have a bunch of pictures taped to my fridge. I printed them out at CVS and am SO happy that I did. My apartment in Thailand was not really that homey. If I had pictures I think it would’ve been.
  • Clothes. I brought lots of socks and bras/sports bras, dress shirts, jeans, tank tops, shorts, underwear, etc. I think I could’ve chilled with the amount of socks, bras, and tank tops that I brought. But most of them were new. I am excited to go shopping in Seoul to see what they have to offer. There are also some cute stores near me but it is cold and Covid is making its way back so I’ve decided to put my adventures on hold.
  • HDMI cord and Apple adapter. Other necessities: lightning cables, my universal adapter, portable chargers. I know I mentioned some of these in a previous post but, the HDMI cord and Apple adapter have been sooo useful. Of course, you can also get those here. But they were nice to have from my days in quarantine to now in my new apartment. It’s nice to be able to watch shows and such on a TV rather than my tiny iPad screen.
  • My IDP from AAA. I mean I haven’t used it yet but I’m really looking forward to renting a car and driving here. Again, since we’re in the middle of a pandemic it’s not recommended to take public transportation so starting on December 21, I can rent a car here and drive around. We’ll see if that actually happens. Itโ€™s cool cause you can post date it up to (I think) three months.
  • I also brought a duffle bag on the plane to bring because two suitcases just wasn’t enough ๐Ÿ˜’ I used my backpack and duffle bag as my two carry-ons. Iโ€™m thinking that the duffle bag will come in handy when Iโ€™m actually able to travel and I use my backpack to bring my laptop and small dinner to school.

Things that I brought that I definitely did NOT need to bring:

My water bottles ๐Ÿ˜ If I had more space, I would’ve had more with me.
  • My cervical pillow (I found some at Homeplus that were actually half the price I paid for back home). Of course, they also have regular pillows.
  • Water bottles. I have a sick obsession with water bottles and I don’t know how to stop. I brought 2 water bottles, 1 travel tea mug, and a CrazyCap water bottle. I brought that for when I go on trips so I don’t have to buy plastic water bottles. They have plenty of different water bottles at Homeplus. Butttt, to be fair, the pandemic made me buy stuff that I clearly didn’t need. So I blame Covid.
  • Sneakers/any other shoes. Seoul has all different types of stores from Sephora to New Balance. I have yet to go there but I have looked up some stores for when I do go there post-pandemic.
  • Workout gear. I have my resistance bands and two ankle weights. I also brought my acupuncture and yoga mats. On one of my trips to Daiso, I saw that they had a good amount of workout gear so one of these days I’m taking my empty shopping bag and going crazy.

You can also buy items online through Gmarket. There’s also this cool website called Borderlinx where you can buy items, have it shipped to the US/UK and then they will ship it to you. There are other websites like Borderlinx but that’s the first one that came to mind. From what I’ve heard you do need a Korean bank account though so I guess I will have to wait. Luckily, I also have family in the US sooooo they can just ship stuff to me for a lower price (I think/hope) ๐Ÿ˜‚

I’ve also read that they don’t have deodorant here. They do. I think maybe it depends on your location? Either way, if they don’t have the kind you like, you can buy it online. You really don’t have to go too crazy (like me) and bring a bunch of stuff that you can easily buy here. The only thing is is that it might be more expensive here. The way that I look at it is you either pay lugging all of your things from the other side of the world or buy stuff here. It’s a lose-lose situation. I also think back to Thailand because I couldn’t find good shoes and other stuff that I needed so I thought “better be safe than sorry.” I just didn’t want to be stuck like that again.

iHerb also has a website in Korea, so that made my year. They’re international so that’s cool. Amazon also ships here but I haven’t tried it cause I’m thinking it will be expensive like it was in Thailand. I had ordered vitamins from iHerb back when I was in the US and loved them. I ran out right before I came to Korea but then found out that they are a thing in Korea so it was a great moment. I’m not sure how it works yet but once I get my ARC (alien registration card) I can play around with these online stores and write about them. What I do know is that iHerb has awesome products from supplements to makeup to tea. I’m actually scared for my bank account when I get my ARC.

Honestly, everything else that I brought I am okay with. Yeah, you can always go shopping here but walking everywhere with your hands full can be fun for only so long (cause I walk everywhere) It’s also difficult right now because of the whole pandemic thing.

What I wish I brought:

I honestly can’t think of anything that I wish I brought. I do miss my computer adapter, but I can easily just buy that online or at a store so I’m not too worried about it.

South Korea does use a different type of plug than the US. In the US we use type A and B. Korea uses C and F. Korea also has a voltage of 220 V and 60 Hz while the US has 120 V and 60 Hz. Like I said, I brought my little adapter. I kind of wish I brought something like this though cause it just would’ve made my life easier. But that is what online shopping is for.

You know when you’re packing and you’re like ahhhh I’m going to forget something?? Well, even after being here for more than a month, it’s still in the back of my brain. If I actually did forget anything, I will update this.

Make sure to check out my TikTok for some videos that I think are funny but they’re probably not ๐Ÿ˜€

The Flight & Beyond

south korea

Before I left for Korea, I went on a few Facebook groups and asked a bunch of questions. I was able to download apps before I left and I created a folder, just in case I didn’t have secure WiFi when I arrived. I recommend doing that, just to be prepared. However, the WiFi at Incheon airport was fantastic so I could’ve waited too. The apps that were suggested by the Facebook groups were: KakaoTalk, KakaoMap, KakaoMetro, KakaoBus, Gmarket Global, Subway (์ง€ํ•˜์ฒ ), Lotte Cinema (the app has easier steps to change the language to English), Korail (์ฝ”๋ ˆ์ผํ†ก) and Naver Maps. The desktop website for Naver Maps is in Korean but the app has the option for English. You also have to download the quarantine app at the airport. They have a banner with the QR code. If you have to delete the app and start over, like I did, this is the link where you can download it or you can simply type it into the App Store: ์ž๊ฐ€๊ฒฉ๋ฆฌ ์•ˆ์ „๋ณดํ˜ธ.

Since I am still in quarantine, I have only used the quarantine app. Once I use the others, I will post an update on how they work and my opinions on each.

I laugh about it now but when I was leaving BOS, I paid $500 for my two suitcases through United Airlines. I did not think it would be THAT much. But then again, I packed up my whole room and also broke a suitcase while my dad was trying to bring it upstairs so I guess I should’ve known. One suitcase was 80+ pounds (36kg+) and the other was over 60 (27kg+). My brother had to come to the airport and help me bring them inside because little old me overstuffed them. Along with my 100 and 30 some odd bags, I had a backpack and a duffle bag which were also stuffed. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with the suitcases for a long time because the airport was not busy. I was also surprised with how packed the flight was from BOS to LAX. I thought it wasn’t allowed to be fully booked, but guess I was wrong. There was not an empty seat in sight.

Imagine walking around the LAX airport with both carry-ons, while dripping sweat wearing a jacket and sweatshirt? That was me. Not to mention when I landed in LA, I had no idea what terminal I was going to. I ended up calling one of my friends (thanks Christina) and she looked up the terminal which was TBIT and I was on my way. About 20-30 minutes later, right as I was about to walk into the gate, my name was called over the loudspeaker. What a memorable day that was. To be fair, it wasn’t my fault because the flight to LAX from BOS was delayed by 20 minutes.

Asiana Airlines vegetarian meal

But at last, I was off to ICN. Before entering the airplane, they took temperatures. I was scared that they were going to deny me because I was hot from sweating and nervous because I was hot from sweating ๐Ÿ˜… I had never heard of Asiana Airlines before but in my opinion, they were up there with Qatar. The movie/TV show selection wasn’t that great but the food was delicious. I only had one meal because I passed out right when I got onto the plane. I had the whole row to myself which was awesome for a 14 hour flight. AND for the first time ever, I actually remembered to change my meal plan when I booked the flight to vegetarian. Yay.

During the flight, I filled out 4 forms: arrival card, travel record declaration, health declaration, and traveler declaration form. Make sure you have a Korean phone number and address to use. I only had my address in Korean at the time, so that took about 10 minutes to fill out per page. The flight attendant complimented me on my Korean writing which I am very proud of ๐Ÿฅณ I also downloaded a bunch of Netflix shows/movies, brought a book and downloaded games that didn’t require internet so I could keep myself entertained. Don’t be like me and pack your charger where you can’t find it. I went more than half the flight with thinking that I didn’t bring a charger with me when all along it was in my duffle bag. Will I ever learn to be organized? Probably not.

Since I had symptoms of Covid within the past 21 days (along with coughing on the flight) I got pulled aside once I went through customs. I got handed a lanyard with a note that said “Incheon.” I then sat down and waited to be called. The lady asked me what symptoms I had and I explained that I have allergies and also got a Covid test two days before my flight. Then, I followed these two guys and they gave me a KF94 mask and asked if I had any meal requests (how sweet). The staff asked me what my suitcases looked like so they could set them aside (if you don’t keep the sticker they give you from your suitcase, that’s okay. I only had one and they were still able to pull both of mine off the belt). Then, I was taken to a little cubicle-like area and I had to fill out even more forms. I had to write my Korean address down 3 or 4 more times. After that was done, one by one he sat us down. I gave him my visa and he called my school director and then showed me how to use the app and what information to put in.

The airport staff were super friendly and although we couldn’t really communicate, it was simple and straightforward. The three of us then went through immigration and our suitcases were there waiting for us. One of the girls that I was grouped with came from Virginia but was from Korea so she spoke English fluently and explained to me what was going on. She was so kind!

We then went onto a bus, drove for about 10 minutes and we all got tested. We were put into cubicle-like spaces again, along with our belongings and good WiFi. The room also had outlets and various chargers.

OJ, water, & (I think) milk
First Meal: lettuce, tomato, cheese, mustard & mayo

Eight hours, two meals, and four water bottles later we received our results. We were taken back to the airport and went our separate ways. My new friend helped me find a taxi. I gave the guy the sheet with my address in Korean we were on our way!

Second Meal: rice with seaweed, carrots, cabbage, spinach & some other ingredient that I’ve never seen before. So flavorful.

One hour and some change later, I was outside of my apartment building handing the taxi driver โ‚ฉ190,000 (โ‚ฉ20,000 for the tip). That’s about $172. Just to be clear, I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable price for the distance or if I was scammed. But either way, don’t make the same mistake that I did. I should’ve known to have the taxi driver use the meter because of my experiences in Thailand. However, I was tired and not all there so I hadn’t thought twice about it. So, make sure you have them run the meter before you leave the airport. Or if you have a working phone, use that to find out how much the fare.

At least we made it to Korea before breaking!

Before I left the airport, I went on Google and saw that there drivers expect a tip of 10-20%. That was a swift Google search so don’t quote me. From the airport to my apartment I didn’t have any phone service because I canceled my plan before leaving so I had no way of asking anyone how much the ride should be. If I did get scammed, oh well. I mean he did carry my two humungous suitcases in and out of the vehicle.

I typed in the code to my building, broke my second suitcase, and entered my apartment. What a relief.