[Updated] 20th Feb 15 ~~ changed details about NTUC student exchange insurance plans
[Updated] 3rd Mar 15 ~~ added Vietnam Air for flight options
I decided to type down what I can remember for my preparation for my exchange in PNU (:
1. Korea Visa
Korea Embassy only opens from 9.30am till 12pm and the last timing to get a ticket number is 11.30am. You need to be there early in case of long queue and to avoid coming another day if you miss the timing.
The address of the Korean Embassy is:
47 Scotts Road #08-00 Goldbell Tower Singapore 228233
Alight at Newton MRT station.
It usually takes 4-5 days for your visa to be ready. Single visa would suffice as you will have to make an Alien card in Korea and that would allow you to leave Korea and continue your visa when you return to Korea.
*do not be alarm if the dates indicated in your visa is not the number of months that you applied for. This is a regulation set by the authorities in Korea, where you are only allowed to stay for another 1 more month after your studies have ended. This means that you will to return your alien registration card to the Immigration Office or if you leave before the date is up, you can also return at the immigration counter at the airport. The officers will then change your visa to a visitor pass for 90 days.
These are what you need for visa making:
1. Letter of Admission from the exchange school
2. Visa Letter from SMU
3. Download the application letter here: http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt?categoryId=2&parentId=382&catSeq=385&showMenuId=374&visaId=D2
If the above link doesn’t work, you can get the form here as well: http://www.mofat.go.kr/english/visa/images/res/visakorean.pdf
5. Coloured passport size photo taken within 6 months
6. Your bank book with transactions of the latest 3 months. Note: If you are using your parents’ account, you are required to bring your parent/parents birth cert and your own birth cert as well as their bank book. At least S$5000 is needed to be reflected on the bank book. You probably need to submit a brief letter from your parent stating that they will be sponsoring you for your exchange. They do not allow ibanking e-statements, so if you do not have transactions of 3 months, you will have to go straight to the bank to ask them for official statements if I’m not wrong. This is the most troublesome aspect, so do make sure you get this right, if not you may just make a wasted trip.
There is quite a number of insurance companies that you can buy from. Just ensure that it covers you for medical and travel claims. I only know a few and I have inserted the link below.
NTUC – **update** they have change their coverage for their policies, please search for the student exchange (or similar title).
Chartis & AIG – They have good coverage and relatively average pricing
MSIG – Has slight more coverage than Chartis & AIG, there is discount depending on the seasons.
3. Air ticket
There is quite a number of airlines that fly to Seoul (or Busan straight). You will need to look out for offers from different airline weekly.
However I find Korea Air is the cheapest with good service. **update** I have indicated the rough cost of a round-trip plane trip, without any offers.
Korea Air ($970++) //Asiana ($950++) // Scoot ($970++) //SIA ($1100++) // Vietnam Air (transit at Vietnam for about 2 hours) ($500++) // Cathay Pacific ($990++)
If you are taking the flight to Seoul, you can take a KTX from Seoul to Busan for about 57,000 Won. I would advise you to book a seat rather than buy a one-day pass, as the one -day pass does not ensure you a seat on the ktx but you can take any timing. Moreover a one-day pass (youth) would cost you the same amount as a booked seat one-way ticket from Seoul to Busan.
4. PNU module biding
During my year, PNU changed and started using google form to help exchange students to register our modules. Do note that they have very small class size (17 – 25) and it it a 1st come 1st serve basis. It is okie if you are not able to get your first choice or start your semester at PNU with 2-4 modules. You can go to the first lesson and ask the prof to manually add you in (provided there is enough slot left or someone drop the class).
**update** It seems that PNU has added english translation to their course registration site since Fall 2014, hence it should make the registration a more smooth-sailing process (: I hope !!
Students in PNU usually buy new textbooks (cost is about 40,000 average) and it is hard to buy second hand textbooks. You can search online and print it at the printer shops just outside of PNU (cost about 12,000 won). Don’t print in school as the shop is relatively slow and if you want to photocopy the whole textbook you will need to leave the book there for almost a week.
The class in PNU are on Mon & Wed (1 hour 15 mins each), Tues & Thurs (1 hour 15 mins each) or 3 hour classes on one day. The location of your class is found after the timing of the class, e.g. 516203 means Blk 516, level 2 and room 3. Below is the maps of PNU & it is a Mountain!! Do take note of where your classes are at and if you have enough time (only 15 mins in between classes). Please merge the maps together, as PNU gave us an outdated a map and I needed to get the latest one form my buddy. The one highlighted in blue is Blk 516 Global Studies School which is a new building in 2014.
There are three kinds of dormitory in PNU:
Woongbee Hall [Mixed]: Twin room, Private toilet in your room [99.9% of exchange students get this as we have priority during selection process]
Jili Hall [Male only]: Twin room, Shared public toilet
Jayu Hall [Female Only]: Bunk room, Shared Public toilet
You can apply for either 2 or 3 dorm meals during application. Use google translate to know which is breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Only Jayu hall is at the entrance. The rest is around 20-30 mins upslope but Woongbee is the newest and BEST hall in PNU. It is apparently called Condo style dorm. The offset is that the dorm food will start to become worse after week 4. Hehe!
Woongbee Dorm Address:
Busandaehak-ro 63 beon-gil, Geumjeong-gu, Woongbee Dorm Blk (A or B), Room (level-number), Jangjeon-2-dong, Busan, South Korea.
Postal code: 609735
Do remember to make payment on the first day of the payment period as transaction takes about 2-3 days. Do check the website regularly to see if you are successful. Later on, you will also be able to indicate your desired roommate. Just follow the guidelines and everything should be fine ^^
Bedsheets may be available, if not you can go NC Dept (@ PNU Main Gate), Home Plus, Lotte or E-mart to buy. [FYI: Bedsheets that are thick and give you warm for winter is called spread.]
Laundry is 500 won (50 mins) while the dryer is 1000 won (40 mins). My advice… do your laundry on weekdays as the washing machine is usually full on weekends and the whole day >.<
You can purchase a Lan cable @ GS25. 2 metre would be sufficient. If you are using Mac book, you can just on your Airport. For windows, you will need to download Connectivity. However you need to pay an amount of money to us it more than one day. If you have friends who can code it, then you can get it for free (:
6. Bank account
Your buddy should bring you to create a bank account after your orientation because you will need to submit it to office of International Services so that you can get your refund from dorm fees (if there is any). There is a Hana Bank at NC and you only need your passport to open an account. If you choose to open an account in other banks, you will need to wait for your Alien card to arrive first.
If you want to apply for your internet banking for your Hana bank account, you will need to wait for your Alien card. As for me, I choose to just withdrawn and pay by cash as much as possible.
7. Alien Registration Card
You will need to make this card when you get to Busan, and the immigration centre is located near Jungang station, your buddy should know where it is. It costs 30, 000 won and you should receive it 2-3 weeks later. You can deliver it to your dorm at 4,000 won.
8. Phone line
I bought EG sim card during my stay in Korea. You can purchase it online and get it delivered to your guest house/specific collection point or purchase it at GS25 at Incheon Airport. I did the latter, however the sim cards sold at convenient stores are now mostly short term (meaning one-month usage and it will expire even if there is still value in it). If you are lucky, you might get the ones that you can extend the validity (10,000 won top-up will add 30 days usage to you sim card)
After you purchase your card at GS25 at Incheon Airport, Insert the sim card into your handphone and configure your phone to the settings in the booklet if you purchase it offline. If there is any issues you can FB message the EG Sim card page.
**IMPT** Do remember to register online at http://m.egsimcard.co.kr/ and input the last 3 digit of your sim card and a clear copy of your passport. This is extremely important because your data gets cut off if you don’t register! [I was data-less for 1-2 days >.<] It will take about 12 hours. After you are done with the registration, you would have to activate the data plan.
There are 3 options available for the data plan. 100MB, 500MB and 1GB. So for example, if you choice 1GB worth of data, EG would deduct 16,500 KRW from your voice balance.
You can either top-up your data from your voice balance or use your credit card to top-up. To top-up your voice balance you can purchase top-up amount from GS25 stores but they are mostly available in Seoul and some other cities, unfortunately Busan does not have such services. Hence during your trip to Seoul or before you head to Busan, you can purchase the top-up the amount at GS25 store. If not, you will need to top-up using your credit card. You can monitor your usage and balance from their mobile app (search EG sim card on Google Playstore or App store. The app should be the first link with black and pink words on white background) or from their website at https://www.egsimcard.co.kr/eng/index.asp
And don’t worry about exceeding your data because there is also free WIFI available for EG Sim Card. Just drop them a Facebook message with your WIFI MAC address and phone number. You will have access to olleh WIFI shortly! You can access the olleh WIFI in subway stations, buses and selected restaurants and streets.
There is many different types of transportation cards, like T-money & Cashbee. Even though both cards are accepted in buses and subways across the whole of Korea, only Cashbee has a much easier process of topping up the value for students living in cities outside of Seoul. I would encourage PNU students to get Casebee card as they can easily top-up the card at the top-up machines in the subway stations. T-money can only be topped-up at the GS25 at the PNU station Exit 3 and most of the GS25 stores only in Busan. I am not entirely sure about other cities so ensure that you have enough value in your transportation card before travelling there.
You can download the subway map from Google Playstore or App store, by simply typing in Korea Subway and search. It is usually the first app. The name of the app is Subway and had a white train with blue background. It allows you to view the maps for 4-5 majors cities and check the travelling time & schedules of the trains daily.
Taxis are relatively cheap in Korea as they have a flat rate of 2800 Won for about 5 mins whenever you board a taxi. For example, to travel from PNU Station to Woongbee dorm only cost you an average of 3000 Won. Sharing cab can cost lesser than taking the public transport, especially in cities that do not have subways.