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Preperation : What I Should Have Packed – Part 1:

August 8, 2007 Leave a comment

I wouldn’t even call this hindsight. This is purely a collection of lessons learned. I don’t feel foolish for not predicting what I should have packed, but maybe others can profit from this advice.

Shoes: The #1 hassle here is taking off and putting on my boots. Any shoes not designed to be taken off and put on quickly would be a pain, but these things seem to take about 250% longer than any Korean takes to swap shoes.

In case it hasn’t come up, Koreans take off their shoes all the time. Walking into the dorms, you take off your shoes. Most restaurants, take off your shoes. A friend’s apartment, take off your shoes. It’s automatic and nearly instant for them. It’s a hassle for me. Get shoes that look ok but you can take off and put on without bending over.

Money: Why did I bring $40 American with me? I can’t seem to easily get it changed once I’m here. I figured it wouldn’t be that big an issue. It is. This isn’t Mexico. They don’t want US Dollars.

Shampoo/Soap/Anything you put on your skin or hair: It’s expensive here. Something on the order of 3 times more than in the US for bargain stuff, 5 times for name brands. Why? I don’t know. I knew it was more expensive, friends warned me. I underestimated how much. I also assumed that bargain stuff would be cheaper. And I was worried about getting it there. Honestly I would have packed differently if I weren’t so terrified the airlines were going to go crazy. Not that they aren’t crazy, but the way they state their rules, and what they actually mean and enforce are not the same thing. I’m not saying you could break a serious rule, and the whole carry-on liquids rule was enforced pretty harshly, but they never really make it clear that you CAN bring that stuff through your check luggage. I knew to bring deodorant. If I were doing it again, I’d bring shampoo, shaving gel, mousse, conditioner, and a bunch of stuff I don’t even want, just so I wouldn’t be paying $10 per if I wanted it for some reason.

More Shirts, Less Pants: This is more specific to me, I suppose, but I brought more pants than I needed and fewer shirts. I’d also bring swimming trunks. Korea has more occasions to swim than the US. But clothes are cheap here, and I don’t see why I can’t pick a pair up next time I see some.

That’s it, so far. The trip is young. I’m sure I’ll think of more.

Categories: Preperation

Preperation : Few Days + Visa Conclusion

July 14, 2007 Leave a comment

I got my visa on Monday. Amid a flurry of papers I had to get done for the financial aide department, it seemed almost unimportant. I freaked out a little until I realized that the visa itself was just a sticker-like entry in my passport, with no external paperwork. But with that aside, it looks in order. And, the Chicago Consulate General was really helpful. As it turned out, it was about 5 days there and 5 days back (working, valid mail days, not weekends and holidays) to get my mail back, for priority, certified mail. The post office was quite disappointing for such a short journey.

I leave on Tuesday, and I haven’t finished packing. For me, packing has always been more of a mental pre-plan, followed by a last minute rush to get it done. I’m trying to be more organized, considering the length of the trip, but I doubt I’ll do anything much more than a day before.  As I said before, I doubt I use all my packing space, or, if I do, it will be because I’m brining stuff I had already assumed I could do without or buy there. The idea of buying things while there bothers me some, as I wouldn’t want to buy them here, again, but it seems like the only practical way to handle things like bedding, and possibly coats.

Categories: Preperation

Preperation : Travelsized Junk and Packing

July 8, 2007 1 comment

I haven’t flown anywhere before. Let alone a ~20 hour flight ~7000 miles long to a place I’m going to stay 5 months. So I don’t really know what I need to bring.

The plane ride honestly sounds almost insurmountably boring, and if it isn’t, then the 4-6 hour bus/train ride from Seoul to Pohang at 6 in the morning probably will be. I’ve got a laptop and a book to read, but I don’t know how I’m going to handle sitting for approximately 24 hours.  I know I’m aloud to get up and walk around at times on the plane, and that there are layovers to stretch out on, but really, that’s a lot of sitting.

Reports vary on how expensive certain things will be in Korea, but in general, I think I’ll be comfortable buying stuff like a winter coat there. I bought a hand full of travel sized bathroom things. The airport said it all had to fit in a quart ziplock bag. Apparently, that’s $25 worth of travel stuff. It’s amazing how fast those costs can rack up for such small things.

At this point I’m not too worried about the weights on my bags. According to the travel agent, I’m limited to two large bags, 50 lbs each and a 25 lbs carry-on. That sounds like it would be enough for me, considering I don’t own that many clothes anyway, but I’ve never packed-for-weight before, and I might be up for having my illusions shattered.

Categories: Preperation