A comeback after a really long time! I always feel apologetic that I don’t have time to post much during the semester because of schoolwork, and during the breaks because I am usually working temporary jobs D: But by request from one of my readers (and new hoobae coming to UIC) I have decided to spend some time talking about packing! 😀
You might be thinking, of course I know how to pack! I just dump everything into huge luggage right?
I wish the story was this simple.
In fact, I hate packing so much that I don’t know if I’m actually the best person to be talking about this. But in any case I will talk about the things you should definitely bring to Korean and things that you don’t really have to!
Items you DON’T have to bring to Korea:
Of course I’m not telling you not to pack any clothes to Korea, but your belongings will only increase exponentially if you bring too many clothes to Korea. (And you will start to get a huge headache when you graduate and think about how you’re going to bring everything home, like me T___T) Reason being that Korea is a shopping heaven. Korea is one country which places a lot of emphasis on fashion, and college students are especially susceptible to such fashion trends. Baseball jackets may be in trend this winter, but next winter you might see everyone in trench coats. It would be best to just buy your clothes in Korea, instead of using your luggage allowance bringing hordes of clothes from home, thinking that you won’t buy anything in Korea. Nope, not gonna happen. Especially when clothes in Korea are pretty affordable too.
If you are a Singaporean (or from any tropical country), don’t worry about warm clothing. It is a lot lot more cheaper to buy winter clothes in Korea than in Singapore. Moreover, the speed of seasonal change gives you ample time to buy warm clothing before it actually turns that cold, so don’t worry about freezing if you don’t bring any winter clothes. In my opinion, buying winter clothes from home and bringing them to Korea is not only expensive, but also only adding on to your burden (because winter clothes are heavy!!!)
I know that we are all going there to study, and we all have some part of our beloved collection that we are unwilling to leave behind in our homes. However, everytime you want to add another book into your luggage, you have to think – do I really need this book? Will I have time to read these novels?
Chances are, you’ll probably be spending more time doing your readings for class than reading your own books. There are also university libraries where you can borrow books from for your research papers, so you don’t necessarily have to bring your own collection there. If you’re an avid reader and loves buying books to read, you can always drop by Kyobo (the biggest bookstore chain in Korea) which offers a wide selection of English titles as well.
However, if the books you intend to bring are those necessary for your course, then of course, you should bring them. The point is not to try to pack everything in, thinking that as long as you’re going there to study you would need all your books.
Unless you have your own brand of cosmetics/skincare products that you are already used to, or you can only use those because of sensitive skin etc, you don’t actually have to bring them to Korea. One reason is because these products are usually quite heavy, but also because Korea has so many different brands of cosmetics and skincare products to choose from that you’d probably be able to find one that suits you.
If you have sensitive skin but still wish to try Korean products, it might be good to bring one set of the brand you are currently using, and slowly make the transition/find the Korean brand suitable for your skin.
Korean makeup brands such as Etude House, The Face Shop etc give out samples when you buy some of their products, so that you can just try out the products first before deciding to buy them. Also, these brands are way cheaper in Korea compared to your home country, so if you are already using a Korean brand, just buy it from the source directly!
Items to bring to Korea:
1. Instant food from your country
When you’re away from home, you would most likely miss the food from your home country, regardless of how much you love Korean food. There will just be some days when your craving for Tom Yum or Laksa is overwhelming, and that is when your instant noodles will be a great help. Milo is also a great help, because even if you don’t have time for breakfast, a hot cup of Milo will always keep your hunger away for a few hours until morning class is over and you can grab some food.
I’m not saying that there are no vitamins in Korea, but if you don’t understand Korean, how do you actually find the right product…… In any case I personally prefer to bring my vitamins from home, as I’ve been taking them from the same brand all along. It is important to take vitamins because being alone away from home, you may skip meals or pull all-nighters (ie doing everything your parents told you not to do), so in order to take care of your health, you should take some vitamins so that you won’t fall sick and miss class!
If the voltage in your country is different from that of South Korea’s, please remember to bring adaptors for your electronics. The voltage in Korea is 220V. Also note that the plugs in Korea sinks into the wall, so you would need an adaptor that is long and round and can fit into the “hole” in the wall.
Most of my electronics (Laptop, phone, camera) are from Singapore, so what I did was to bring a multi-plug from Singapore, so that I would only need 1 adaptor (for the multi-plug) and I can just plug in my Singaporean appliances without problem into the multi-plug. If I didn’t have the multi-plug, I would need 3 adaptors for my 3 different appliances O.O
4. Souvenirs from home
This is not a must, but when you meet friends from all over the world and wish to show them some parts of your own country, it’ll be nice to have something small to give them so that they will remember you and your country 😀
There are some who recommend to buy laptops in Korea. Personally I bought my laptop in Singapore because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of buying it on my own (especially when I’m no expert at IT stuffs and might end up buying a laptop that isn’t that much functional). Since Korea is a pretty high-tech country, they also have a variety of the latest models to choose from. But first you would have to make sure that they have Windows/Mac OS in the English version (some only provide the Korean version). You would probably also need a Korean friend to go with you so that you can communicate with the people at the electronics shop.
This list is just based on my own experience, of course everyone has different priorities based on different daily habits. I just realised that many people will tend to bring too many clothes or cosmetics etc that can be found easily in Korea as well, and the luggage space that could have been used to bring other things was wasted. The most important thing is to keep everything below 20kg (some airlines give up to 23kg) for checked-in luggage and 7kg for hand carry.
I hope this post has helped those of you who are struggling with overweight luggage think through what are the things that you really need to bring and the things that you can just take out from your luggage now! For those of you preparing to come to Korea soon, good luck in your preparations! ^^