I am getting ready to study abroad in Korea for one semester. The struggle is so very real that I want to document what I have learned. Hopefully I can help someone. So here’s what I got.
I am sure this goes without saying MAKE SURE YOUR PASSPORT IS UP-TO-DATE!
The process of getting a visa is so damn hard if you are broke like me. For a semester you need to have $5000 in your bank account in order to receive the visa. Generally you show them a bank statement with this amount in there for the D-2 Visa. If you are going for a year, which I am NOT, you will need $17,000 in your bank account. It also depends on the Korean Consulate near you. Each one is a bit different. I know for a fact that they hate me though. However, one ill advised alternative is going into the country as a tourist and then applying at the local immigration office of where you will be staying. As a US citizen you can be in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. Your just a tourist until you get that visa. Going this route requires the stuff sent in your acceptance packet and your passport. You’re school and the school your going to will probably be upset about it, like mine, but whatever. But also note that you are responsible if problems arise with this, not me or the schools. Its hard enough trying to get a damn plane ticket and a visa before departure. Also be sure to mail all the appropriate documents, the money & a paid return envelope so they can send your stuff back to you.
Second: Plane Ticket
To get a great deal try www.studentuniverse.com first. Because you are a student, you can find cheaper deals. Also look in other places because there could always be another site with a cheaper price. As of today I am still awaiting my refund to buy my plane ticket but that’s another story. Know that you will be traveling forever in order to get the best deals. Most I’ve seen, round trip & from PHL, have long layovers in Canada. Less layover time means more money. I would strongly advise that if you are leaving from the northeast coast, leave from Newark, NJ or New York, NY. Those places are much cheaper. I can’t use those airports but you should try your best.
Housing as I know it, is a first come first serve kind of thing. YOU have to keep in contact with them so you know when, where and IF you got housing. If not there are always some fairly cheap places where you can stay. You just have to search for them. Try: https://www.airbnb.com
If you want to get ahead in life, APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS. As many as possible up until and after you leave for Korea. Though I did not receive it, I strongly suggest applying for the Gilman Scholarship. A few of my friends received it and it helped them a lot. So DO IT.
Check to see what insurance your school offers for while you are abroad. See if they have HTH or just look around yourself for traveler’s insurance. You can also check the school that will be hosting you. Make sure it covers everything you need it to. Also look up the names of the medicines you take here so you know their equivalent there.
Sixth: Bank Account
TELL YOUR BANK that you will be abroad so that they do not think it was theft. Also make sure your card works there and find out the prices for taking money out, etc.
Seventh: Cell Phone
For God sake, get your phone unlocked here, ahead of time. If not, you may be forced to get a new phone there that you will not be able to use when you come back. Let’s not spend any extra money okay?