What happened after #2

In continuation of my previous post, this blog post will cover some of the important matters that all the KGSP students would have to do upon their arrival in Korea.

BANK ACCOUNT

Upon my arrival to the airport, I was given a few forms to fill up (ARC and bank account creation form) by the staff from the international office. They will help us to create a bank account from Woori Bank and I got my bank card and bank account book about 2-3 weeks later.

But upon receiving the bank card, most of us visited the bank to change the bank card to Mastercard/T-money card, which means we can now use the new card to make online purchases and pay for our transport fees (bus, subway). The original card won’t be able to do that.

ALIEN REGISTRATION CARD (ARC)

All of us will have to apply for an ARC and of course, the international office will help us out on that. There was nothing much we had to do, except to fill up the form in the airport and making a trip to the immigration office (the international office will arrange for the trip) to register our fingerprints. We just got our ARC last week, which is about a month and a half after arriving to Korea. Without the ARC, basically we cannot sign up for a phone package and do a lot of other stuff like signing up for membership at Innisfree (lol). If we leave the country without an ARC, I think we would have to re-apply for our visa when we need to come back. But with the ARC, we can leave and come back without having to do that!

For the ARC application, you would need to bring 2 pcs of latest passport sized photos. I forgot to bring mine but luckily there is a photography shop in campus so we can also snap our photos there to submit to the international office later!

SIM CARD/DATA PLAN

Since we all did not have an ARC at the start, the international office gave all of us a sim card with 20,000 won worth of credit in it. Basically it’s a call/data plan (2GB) by SKTelecom and it lasted me for about 3 weeks. However, it seems like some of our cellphones may not be compatible with the sim card provided because some of my fellow scholars were not be able to use the sim card. But for me, I am using a Huawei Honor 8 and it works well for my case.

WHAT TO BUY

The first week is basically spent on settling down and buying necessary items. Since we do not have our bank account or T-money card during the first few days, it is advisable to bring either your credit card or more cash with you when you shop. For me, I went out to a nearby E-mart with my roomie and 2 other friends. We took a cab and it costs us about 2000won per trip to E-mart from Global House dorm.

We can get almost everything we need in E-mart. They have a wide variety of food, clothing, make up products, toiletries, general electrical appliances and bedding products. You may refer to the list below on the necessary items we bought in E-mart:

  1. Pillows
  2. Shampoo and Conditioner
  3. Toilet scrubbing (?) brush
  4. FOOD like ramen and biscuit. (Catch their 1+1 for cheaps!)
  5. Toilet paper (the cheapest brand available is a brand called “No Brand” lol #punnotintended)
  6. Clothes hanging rack (also by No Brand)

So after our E-mart visit, we head back to the dorm to put all our shopping lots before heading out to Daiso!

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You can buy basically a wide range of items here, from stationary to toiletries to laundry related items etc etc. The only thing they didn’t have was bedding items like pillows, bed sheets and blankets. Other than that, we can find a whole lot of things here and the items sold here are similar to the Daiso we have in Malaysia.

BUT, may items here are significantly cheaper in comparison to the Malaysian Daiso. Before I left, the price per regular item was RM5.90/item. Over here, items can cost as low as 1000won (about RM3.80) to 5000won. There might be more expensive items lying around too but so far I have not seen them. Another difference is that the Korean Daiso sells a variety of biscuits and snacks too!

So the necessities that I bought in Daiso were:

  1. Hangers (1000won for a set of 4!)
  2. Cute Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma plasters (1000won per box!)
  3. A mirror (duh!) for 2000 won
  4. An umbrella
  5. Plastic clips to seal unfinished snacks
  6. Scissors
  7. Nose pack (1000won per box)
  8. A soft toy dog to hug when I sleep haha (5000won for this!)

Subsequently as the days move on, I bought some other things there for cheaps too! For example:

  1. Steel cutlery set (fork, spoon and chopsticks) – 2000won
  2. Mini star shaped sponges to wash my cutlery
  3. Phone stand – 2000won

So about 2 weeks later, we had our campus orientation! More on that in my next blogpost~

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Farewell Throwback

Today’s throwback post will be on my farewell staycation with le besties! We didn’t wanted to go too far away and our main point was to spend as much quality time as we can with one another since some of us (Ok la only two out of six actually) are overseas and we won’t have much to meet each other often at least in the near future.

So we decided to rent an Airbnb in Kuala Lumpur for 3 days 2 nights!

On meet up day since some of them still has to work/cmi, 3 of us went for a movie date first by watching “47 Metres Down”. It was a good movie but I think I will never see diving with sharks the same way again lol. This is us after picking up someone who packed a pretty a lot of stuff for a 2 night stay lol, guess who….

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After movie in Quill City Mall, we headed to our Airbnb at Setia Sky Residences!

sdrsdr– The view that greeted us when we entered –

So another bestie reached early and managed to set up the air mattress for “door guards of the night” and also pumped air into the unicorn float! She even brought like wine glasses and a vacuum (to pump air into float and matteress). I guess this is how we do staycations hahahahah.

The view was spectacular from the balcony. And it was pretty windy too because we are so high up at like…36th floor or something haha.

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cof– I guess after 12 years of friendship transparent bathroom and doorless bathroom don’t bother us as much anymore –

sdr– Sangria making by Barista Ng –

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While waiting for dinner time we walked around the condo and of course it has amazing view everywhere, including the indoor pool and Jacuzzi area. There is also an outdoor pool which we planned to go on the next day!

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We had home made steam boat for dinner! Apparently most of my friends are chef/housewife material hahaha because everything taste so good! I guess we are the best team when it comes to eating, shopping, travelling… Basically just about everything because we complement each other so well!

edf– Sangria by Barista Ng –

Can’t deny that sometimes I do have good photography skills. This can totally be a photo from stock website or from a restaurant menu. :p

After a good cup of sangria and late night heart to heart talk, the next morning came and of course, it was swim time after breakfast. The night before I was the “door guard of the night” with Ivy so I slept on the sofa in the living room. But the second night I got to sleep in the master bedroom so of course I gotta shift all my belongings into the room.

AND when I opened the door, this scene greeted me….

edf– Omg don’t so sweet can???? –

To be honest I was so surprised because I totally wasn’t expecting anything to happen. So I guess this is what 12 years of friendship do to you. You get fooled and yet not suspect anything omg.

So 3 of the girls were pumping the helium balloons right outside of the house (the door was closed) while I was inside. I heard the sound of bursting balloons in the morning coming from outside but it kinda sounded to me like the neighbors were having a renovation (at 8am in the morning). So stupid me went and ask Barista Ng if she heard the sound. Obviously she did but she played along and told me there was a renovation going on. -.-

And she was the one who asked me to bring my things to the room so naturally I didn’t notice a thing.

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My girls are superrrrrr sweet. Thank you for planning such a sweet and romantic surprise!!

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At that time I was pretty much wearing a bikini under my Mickey bathrobe hahaha because I thought it was swim time!

But yes of course, after the photog session in the room full of balloons we headed down for a swim! Still can’t forget how we epic-ly transported this huge float by squeezing it inside the lift though. XD

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After a good swim and nua session at the pools, it was time to wash up and go for dinner. But before that, do you know we can actually roast/BBQ marshmallows using a candle? I didn’t know either until we tried LOL! It was good but also it gets burnt so easily, we ended up having some black marshmallows especially in the beginning.

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After a hearty dinner, we came back to enjoy the poolside view and of course, more Sangria!

We also celebrated Krys’ birthday! But the surprise seemed like a little fail since everyone was all over the place trying to keep it under the wraps while planning how and where to buy the cake without letting the birthday girl suspect us hehe.

After 2 fun nights, it was time to go home~

cof– But first, lemme have a cheese flavoured ice cream –

We didn’t do a lot as compared to our previous trip to Port Dickson. But all in all, it was a good trip where we spent more time talking and chilling rather than thinking of what to do next. Can’t wait to be reunited with you guys again!

What happens before and what happened after

Finally had a chance to finally write about this topic because I figured I am fully settled down now and have a clearer picture of what we have gone through in the past 2 months of “settling down” and “getting used to things”.

So today’s blog post will revolve around what happened after I received the scholarship (i.e. stuff that happened after the final round result announcement), up until the time where I reached Korea and settled down in my language institution.

Not long after the final announcement, NIIED sent us an email to notify us on what to do. Basically, we had to make our student visa (D-4 for my case) at the embassy and also fill up and submit a flight ticket form.

FOR VISA:

In the email, they would attached a letter of invitation with your name, major and other personal details on it to ease the visa application process. Malaysian students from my year had to personally check with the embassy (by email) on necessary documents to submit for visa application. AND apparently, we need to submit another tuberculosis medical report (a form was given by the embassy for the medical doctor to fill up for us). Remember we did an X-ray test during the second round? So instead of doing another X-ray or pay more to do a separate TB test, I opted to just go back to the hospital I went for the medical check up and just get the doctor to fill up the form for me based on my past medical check up report (which was done like less than a month ago lol).

So after accumulating all the necessary documents, I just head to the embassy (which was right behind the hospital, literally) and submit! You will be able to collect your visa around 3 working days later and for working peeps like me, you can even ask someone to collect on your behalf! Just bring the receipt!

FOR FLIGHT TICKETS:

Because my parents are tagging along with me, I opted to buy my own flight tickets. So I just filled up the flight ticket request form and marked “I will buy my own tickets” and sent it back to NIIED via email.

For those who chose the option to allow NIIED to buy them tickets on behalf, they received the tickets about 3 weeks before departure. Whereas for my case, I bought my own tickets. It has been 2 months here and I have yet to receive my flight reimbursement. So be prepared that the reimbursement may not come as fast as you think it would. For reimbursement purposes, NIIED will advice you on the necessary documents to submit.

BUT, despite submitting my reply form saying that I would buy my own tickets, I still got an e-ticket email from NIIED about 3 weeks before departure that they have bought my air tickets! But thankfully, I managed to resolve it and they cancelled the ticket they bought for me and allowed me to request for reimbursement for the flight ticket that I bought (and ultimately used to fly here).

So after much preparation and packing, I flew to Korea!

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I was assigned to Chosun University for my one year language course. And prior to departure I have liaised with the PIC via email to arrange for airport pick up and dorm arrangements. I got the dorm I wanted, thank God! I landed in Incheon Airport on 22 August 2017. Also, the staff were so kind to let my parents hop on the same back back to Gwangju. Together with students from Chonnam University that arrived in the same morning, all of us hopped on the bus and came to Gwangju!

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After about a 4 hour bus ride and spending around an hour getting lost in Chonnam Univ (lol), we finally reached our dorm!

First impression of the weather: Walao so hot and humid. It was wayyy hotter and more humid than the weather in Malaysia. And it didn’t really help that it rained shortly after we arrived so the weather got even more humid.

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This is my dorm! I am living in the Global House dormitory in a shared room with another room mate on the 9th floor. It was pretty clean (albeit a little dusty) and they even washed the toilet before I arrived. But of course, we do hear nasty “Settling in” stories from our friends hahaha.

And the best thing ever? THIS VIEW from my window!

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It looks gorgeous and I have already had maybe 50 photos taken from the same window at different times of the day hahaha.

cof-Desperate times call for desperate measures-

Apparently the only thing that was provided is a mattress cover (which I placed at the bottom most layer of my mattress before layering it with my own mattress cover). There were no pillows or blankets that were provided. Personally, I brought my own blanket (just a thin one) and some pillow cases because I plan to buy the pillow here.

BUT, who needs a blanket when it is so hot here right?! Plus, they turned off the A/C at 12am every night until like 8am the next morning. Which explains why I decided to stuff my blanket into a pillow case and make it a pillow instead.

Oh! And my room mate arrived to the dorm like at 1am in the morning hahahaha. So on the next day, we went out to look for lunch with our Romanian neighbours!

cofbty-First proper lunch in Korea as a student-

Since we were really newbies in Gwangju, we didn’t know anywhere good to have lunch so all the KGSP students that has arrived went to Chosun Hospital to grab something to eat. They do have good restaurants and also a Paris Baguette bakery here so that is basically where I spent most of my first week during lunch time haha.

And of course, part of settling down involves shopping for necessities! After lunch we took a cab out to an E-mart nearby.

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They have everything from food to toiletries to bedding products. Me and my roomie bought our pillows there and also a bunch of toilet cleaning detergents, clothes detergents and so forth.

We bought toilet paper and clothing detergent from a brand called “No Brand” (lol, no pun intended) because it was so cheap! It is like some kind of house brand so it is definitely cheaper than internationally known brands.

Pro tip: It never hurts to also buy some ramen or biscuit or any convenient food because you will definitely need it at some point. Best to stock up some stuff to munch in the dorm because you may never know when will an apocalypse happen, or when you are just plain lazy to go out and get food haha. With so many 1+1 deals out there, it is not too expensive to buy stuff on promo.

Pro tip 2: Essentially you will be surviving on all the money you brought from your country for at least the first month here. We got our first allowance almost at the end of September. So it is wise to save up some emergency cash just in case the allowance doesn’t come in on time. I brought about USD500 for a start and it was barely enough for me because I didn’t shop for non-necessary items. I just used it for food, bedding items and household items + misc items.

Pro tip 3: Clothes are expensive here (at least by Malaysian standards). Either buy it back home and bring it. Or if you can’t, then I guess you will just have to bring more money to buy them here. Maybe I will do a separate blog post for shopping 😀

We also went to Daiso to grab some small stuff like plaster, chopsticks (of all items this is like one of the most essential). The stuff in Daiso are wayyy cheaper. In Malaysia, an item is RM5.90. Over here, it can go as low as RM3.80. I bought like a set of hangers (4pcs) for RM3.80 only!

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bdr-Pleased to introduce my roomie from Mexico-

P/S: Ok I will make a separate blog post for shopping because this is getting too long lol

Since my parents were here for a week to explore the city and to see me (T.T), we went to Chosun Hospital for lunch and bingsu for dessert before they went home. T.T

btybtybdredfbdr-Miss yiuu-

After my parents went home, my life in Korea as a student officially started!

Next up, we had 2 orientations and much more fun before we started our language classes. Will be blogging about them soon!

The miracle of two dreams

I am currently on a week long break for Chuseok and it has been a really relaxing and quiet week so far. Time to post some back-logged updates before I forget them!

So today’s post will take us back to the time when I was going through the KGSP application process. Those who have been through would know that it is 3 months worth of nervous waits with bouts of anxiety and confidence issues. For the 3 months, most of the time I was going back and forth between “I CAN DO THIS!” to “Sigh, I am not going to get it”.

And within those 3 months, I dreamt TWO dreams that I can now say, has turned out to be true. And I truly thank God for sending me these two dreams, to tell me that everything is going to turn out OK.

So the first dream happened right after the second round results was announced. If you have been reading my past blog posts, you would know by now that I was actually placed in the waiting list after the first round. But then, my name was in the results announcement list for the second round (i.e. I was bumped up to be one of the confirmed scholars for the second round because someone decided to drop out). I remembered being over the moon but yet a bit skeptical because I have not received any clear confirmation from the embassy yet. What if they made a mistake right? I didn’t want to get my hopes up and get really disappointed again before getting an official confirmation.

So here is the story of the dreams! The wordings in red are actual events that happened in reality and the rest are what the dreams have shown me.

Dream #1:

The dream started at home. I was passing by my dad’s room and he was sitting on his chair, reading a book. And as I walked passed, he looked up and told me, “Girl, you are going to Korea!”. (In real life, I frequently update my dad on my application process and he has been telling me all the time that I should not worry and be confident that God will bless me with this scholarship.) I smiled and said “Oh really? I am going to the South Korean embassy now”. I took a cab to the embassy, and as I walked up the stairs, an embassy staff who I bumped into, smiled and told me “Congratulations Ei Lynn, you are going to Korea!” (Remember I said I emailed the embassy staff to confirm whether I passed the second round? The staff replied my email and she said YES!). I felt good and subsequently I went into the interview room. After the interview is done, I left the building and went back to the cab. The cab driver (just some random stranger that I don’t know) turned around and told me, “You are going to Korea!”.

The phrase “You (me) are going to Korea” was repeated 3 exact times in the dream. And in reality, we have 3 rounds to pass through. And I got this dream right after the second round results announcement.

Dream #2:

This dream appeared in the middle of the second round, which was after my interview with Yonsei and upon submission of my medical check up results to NIIED. If my memory serves me right, by that time I would have had gotten acceptance from Yonsei so what was left is the final round results.

The dream started with me cycling on a bicycle. I started off from my house and I needed to cycle through a small alley. Upon reaching the alley, I saw three ribbons tied across the alley and it was hindering my way. I didn’t bother to take the ribbons down (despite knowing I would trip over it, duh). So I attempted to cycle pass the first ribbon. But as expected, I tripped and fell over it. Subsequently, I got up and I saw the two other ribbons in front of me. So I went ahead to untie the second ribbon, then I went back to untie the first ribbon as well, before untying the third ribbon. Then I went on with my journey. I reached a convenience store and met up with my bestie. We were looking at pyjamas (lol) and she asked, “Would you buy this for Korea?”

Truth is, I don’t even know how to ride on a bicycle in real life (LOL!). So I guess cycling on a bicycle indicates that I am doing something that was challenging for me and it was something that I had no prior experience on. Tripping over the first ribbon directly correlates with me being in the waiting list for the first round. Subsequently after passing the second round, only then I found out that I passed the first round (which explains why the second ribbon was untied first before the first one). And ultimately, I passed all three rounds and now I am here, in Korea!

As I look back now, the timing of which these dreams appeared seemed like it was an assurance from God that I will make it through. No doubt I was super duper worried that I may not make it till the end. But I guess everything happens for a reason. Dreams, included.